Freak, the first full-length album from LA-based (by way of Atlanta) metalcore band Tetrarch mixes elements of hard rock, thrash, and nu-metalcore. The mixture creates heavy, dynamic songs propelled by blasting drum beats, steady riffage, and dark, hooky vocal melodies. Behind Tetrarch’s big sound is the driving force of lead guitarist, Diamond Rowe, whose heavy melodies and intricate leads help generate the band’s commanding energy, and has been turning heads in the metal scene since the band started in 2007.

Rowe grew up in Atlanta. By middle school, she had discovered rock music and started listening to alternative radio. She thought it’d be cool to play guitar; her mom supported that idea and bought her a cheap one for her 12th birthday. “I literally never put it down,” Rowe says. She spent hours practicing each day, and eventually met and started jamming with future Tetrarch vocalist/rhythm guitarist Josh Fore.

Since they formed in 2007, Tetrarch has released three EP; their most recent one, Relentless, came out in 2013. They’ve also shared the stage with bands like Trivium, Black Tide, Avenged Sevenfold, and more. A couple of years ago, Tetrarch relocated from Atlanta to Los Angeles in order to be closer to managers, potential labels, and other people they were corresponding with. As Rowe describes, it was a matter of convenience. She also explains that although Atlanta played a role in their development as a band, Tetrarch wasn’t heavily involved in their local music scene, and were instead looking for something bigger.

Rowe’s musicianship is greatly influenced by bands like metal bands such as Trivium, Metallica, and Gojira (she also cites Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine and Slipknot’s Jim Root and Mick Thompson as influences on her early musical development), but she is also interested in developing her own methods. “One of my biggest goals is to be able to do a little bit of everything—when it’s necessary,” she says, explaining that she tends to focus more on songwriting over mere technical ability. She aims to be a versatile guitar player who—like many of her influences—doesn’t necessarily shred the whole time, but she can when she wants to.

That balance is demonstrated well on Freak. The album expands from their earlier songs, which tended to stick to one idea, and unfurls as a collection of songs that show an appreciation for many metal subgenres, and highlight how Tetrarch has continued to evolve.

Songs like “Mary,” “The Oddity,” and the title track are perfect examples of this, and highlight Rowe’s growth as a musician. “Mary” is a dark sounding track with a catchy, hooky chorus, hard rock vocals and riffs. It’s reminiscent of 90s-00s radio rock hits from bands like Linkin Park or Mudvayne, while also incorporating elements of metalcore. Tetrarch’s thrash influence is evident in “Oddity,” which includes one of the heaviest breakdowns on the album. It’s a song full of grit and fast riffs. Rowe says she identifies with the song “Freak,” as it is about embracing what makes a person different, even if others find it bizarre.

Despite their musical progression, some things stay the same: Since their start in 2007, the band has written, recorded, toured, and done everything else on their own. “I always try to stay focused on the fact that our goals are attainable, but it’s up to us,” Rowe explains about how she and her bandmates stay motivated. She says they’ve been able to stay focused this long by remembering that everything is a means to an end, as well as being able to laugh and find joy in everything.

Fully aware that she isn’t a stereotypical-looking metal guitarist (i.e., not a white dude), Rowe says her experience as a black female guitar player has been overall positive. “I didn’t pay attention to it [at first]; I just wanted to play guitar,” she says. She recalls that what amused her when she first started playing and touring with Tetrarch was when people who assumed she was the band’s merch person or manager would be surprised to see her shredding on stage. Overall, she says the metal scene is open to diversity among musicians, stating, “If you’re good, people are going to accept you.”

As far as her life outside of Tetrarch, Rowe says she is too single-minded to have a musical side project at the moment, but she took up bass fishing about a year ago and likes to fish during off-times on tours. “It’s a good, little relaxing getaway,” she says— although she admits that the fish aren’t as abundant in California as they are in Georgia.

Rowe offers this piece of advice to anyone embarking on an artistic venture: “Learn what you want to do, practice your ass off, and become better than everybody.” She also suggests surrounding yourself with like-minded people who are working to attain the same goal. Tetrarch has remained a band this long because of their dedication, and if Freak is any indication, it’s safe to say that they’re here to stay.