Review Summary: It's Electric!
Let's be brutally honest here: the NWOBHM movement was the greatest time for rock. It introduced several new faces and bands to the heavy metal scene, such as Iron Maiden, Avenger, and Motorhead
, to name a few familiar faces. But if there was any band who was easily the most influential, it had to be Diamond Head
With the release of the four horsemen of NWOBHM's debut, Lightning to the Nations
in 1980, the Diamond Head foursome garnered popular attention. Sporting hard, heavy guitar solos, smashing drum work, and a healthy dose of aggressive, early-influenced thrash metal, the album later proved to be more of an underrated highlight and milestone of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and to 80's metal. Diamond Head was formed in 1976 by Brian Tatler and Duncan Scott, two close friends into rock music. The vocalist Sean Harris auditioned and was voted into the band, and just a couple of months later, bassist Colin Kimberley joined Diamond Head. After playing several gigs, they earned enough money for a truck, tour bus (purchased from Arizona Killers, hell yeah!), and lighting rig.
Lightning to the Nations was recorded in seven days in Worcester. By this time, the band had no major label wanting to commit to having them, and their gigs were going downhill. They made a decision to release it under their own label, oddly called Happy Face Records. Later proving to be a good decision, Nations was released in cassette only, and later CD copies. It later proved to be one of the best heavy metal albums of all time, and highly influential to several major label bands.
Kicking off the classic seven-track LP is "Lightning to the Nations", one of the band's classic tunes. With sharp, shredding guitars and crushing bass, right from the first minute of the album it proves to be an energetic release. The dense drumming and cheesy vocals also highlight. This style should help a listener understand Diamond Head: a hard-rocking, fast-paced song, yet incredibly straightforward in its own way, whereas other metal bands stick to a particular technicality. (I'm going to set you down, I'm going to set this right, I'm going to bring you home / I'll bring you lightning to the nations / to the nations / to the nations)
Lyrically, the greatest song on the album is "Am I Evil?" and "The Prince". The former shows off a dark, haunting opening riff strangely similar to Black Sabbath's self titled track
(with few notes and a lowwwwwwwwww pitch), and crashing drums, it slowly fades into a fast-paced, dark song. This deals with a man going mentally insane after witnessing his mother burned alive, chanting numerous death wishes and violence warring for dominance. The riff in the song is cataclysmic and the frenzied midtempo section will keep it energized and fresh. The Prince
maintains that chaos, telling a tale of a man jealous of a prince, with his wealth, fame, power, and respect. This man vows to kill the prince, in a slow, painful manner. The bitterness of the song is high, and the thumping bass, shredding guitar, and quick drums prove to be one of the iconic thrash songs Diamond Head is known for.
With such a sense in that, you'd think that everything else feels less notorious. This is not the case, where three single songs prove to be the worth of the album altogether. It is far more toned down than most thrash, and takes a more mainstream approach to it. The songs Sweet and Innocent
and Sucking My Love
, while both being explosive and highly enjoyable, are both as straightforward as humanly possible. (You live it good girl / And baby you live it high,
You reach it easily, makes me wanna cry) Still, the playful nature alongside those two apocalyptic entries makes for a good mix of emotions. (Angsty then happy, vengeful then cooing)
It's been more than thirty years since Lightning to the Nations was released. It doesn't feel any less fresh, any less surprising. It is still one of the defining moments of metal, easily, and it is such a visceral approach, you'd believe it was an experienced band in a major label, not a self-produced album made in a week. And if you can't find yourself enjoying this piece of metal art, you're definitely either mentally ill or just plain ***ing retarded. So thrash away.
Diamond Head - Lightning to the Nations
Released in 1980 under Happy Face Records