Can you imagine a metal band naming an album Melissa? Neither could I until I learned of this record. And then I just assumed there was going to be some kind of bizarre Allman Brothers cover or it wouldn’t actually be metal.
A few sites have this record as a “black metal” record. I am no black metal connoisseur but the black metal I am familiar with doesn’t sound much like this. Also, I believe the genre didn’t come into existence for at least a year, right? Apparently it’s the lyrics – which focus on various “black” themes despite the record’s title – which had a big influence on actual black metal bands later. Bur influential on a genre or proto to that genre doesn’t make it part of the genre. Anyway…
This is relatively fast, occasionally thrashy metal of the kind a lot of European bands were playing in the early ’80s; it’s clear there’s a bit of a NWOBHM in the music but there are fewer hooks (or singalong choruses) and more of an emphasis on speed metal esque flashy technique. Like much metal from this time period, there are elements that feel quite modern and some that feel ’70s. One big difference is Diamond’s voice, which feels like a rawer, more dangerous power metal voice – he can sing the big high notes (his voice is very high) but he can also get dirty when he needs to (sometimes with the help of affects). It’s probably Diamond’s voice more than anything that makes this record sound “blacker” than it otherwise would if, say, a conventional power metal singer were present.
Anyway, this is pretty good stuff for the era and it’s clear that this band had found its own niche, distinct enough from others at a time when the whole scene was transitioning.