Review Summary: Diamond Head are overcomed by their success, and turn to play a more commercial sound. Fortunately, they still manage to create an amazing album.
Diamond Head was one of the more famous and successful bands of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Their debut, Lightning to the Nations, is widely considered one of the bests from the genre, alongside with Iron Maiden and Angel Witch's self-titled.
After releasing their debut and achieving mainstream success the band signed a record deal with MCA Records, and sat down to record Four Cuts EP and their second full-length album Borrowed Time.
The album obtained even more commercial success, even though the critical responses for it were diverse, some of them saying the band sold out. That statement may in fact be true, seeing as the sound has evolved and became more commercial contrasting the debut, but Borrowed Time remains to be one of the greatest records of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.
In their second studio album, Diamond Head abandoned the heaviness, almost completely, and instead embraced some Progressive Rock elements. The two 7-minute long epics, Don’t You Ever Leave Me and the title track demonstrate this point perfectly, while other songs such as Call Me show some different Pop influences.
Borrowed Time actually contains only five new tracks, as two of the tracks, Am I Evil and Lightning to the Nations, was already released on the band's debut. Many people believe the tracks were included because of the band's lack of originality, or that it was the manager's way of earning money without working, but the actual reason is that Lightning was meant to be a demo album, and Borrowed Time was supposed to be their debut, so the band decided to take their two favorite tracks from the supposed 'demo' and put them in the real album. This didn’t work out, though, seeing as the former is the band's highest selling album of all time.
The album's opener, In The Heat Of The Night, and Call Me are both power ballads, strongly signifying the band's approach to a more mainstream sound. Both of the songs are characterized by very cheesy lyrics and title, and simple power chord verses and choruses. In The Heat is the more complex of these two, containing some beautiful licks and passages, and a great solo. Call Me is far simpler, but it's still an amazing catchy track. The other three tracks, though, are where the band really shines.
To Heaven From hell is probably the closest song Diamond Head ever made to Am I Evil. Three minutes in, the song turns unexpectedly from Heavy Metal to Thrash. It contains some of the band's best riffs, and after a solo it ends with Sean Bean's emotional singing in an Iron Maiden-like bridge.
The two epics, Don’t You Ever Leave Me and the title track really fulfill the album's purpose with the most Progressive sound. Both of the songs have beautiful long solos, and some interesting riff movements. Don’t You Ever Leave Me, in particular, has some of Colin Kimberley's finest bass riffs. The songs ends up with an emotional and beautiful bluesy acoustic part, with a stunning guitar solo and, once again, a great vocal delivery, which rounds up to be one of the greatest parts of the album.
The reworked Lightning to the Nations tracks remain, unsurprisingly, extremely true to the originals, and they fail to be anything more than unimportant skippable tracks.
While looking at the new, original material, though, it easily contains some of Diamond Head's best moments, and despite the fact that the band played a more commercial sound, each member of the band is at the top of his game, and the music sounds amazing. This album is recommended to everyone who loved Lightning To The Nations.
On the next album, unfortunately, Diamond Head will sell out, and will make their downfall.
Borrowed Time was released in September 27, 1982. The record label is MCA and it is 42:10 minutes long.
- Dont You Ever Leave Me
- Borrowed Time
- To Heaven From Hell
Sean Harris – vocals
Brian Tatler – guitar
Colin Kimberley – bass
Duncan Scott – drums