Review Summary: Surprisingly, Diamond Head are still here and as solid as they’ve been in the last 30 years or so.
Having released one of the greatest debuts in the history of metal in the form of Lightning to the Nations
, where does a band go" In the case of Diamond Head, the answer is given by music history itself and is painfully obvious; to the solid yet inferior Borrowed Time
which in turn gave its place to a series of subpar LPs that lacked in a variety of aspects. The songwriting was there, the inspiration and talent were apparent so what went wrong" In a sense, what the Brits lacked was most of all a sense of direction, in the form of a Steve Harris. So next time you decide to criticize Lars Ulrich because of his drumming, think of where Metallica recorded their most classic material, the nationality of their co-producer and if that is a coincidence.
So releasing a self titled album, with a cover that looks like a compilation 34 years after Diamond Head were relevant, doesn’t scream success on any level, right" *** no! Believe it or not, Brian Tatler might have made the most kickass return in the history of arts since Gandalf came back as Gandalf the White. Well, not exactly since Heaven and Hell
and Brave New World
exist, but still… All things being equal, Diamond Head
isn’t just the best album the Brits could have offered at this point but as good as “modern” NWOBHM can get.
What makes this LP an essential listen for fans of the band, is the solid songwriting that sounds like the missing link between Lightning to the Nations
and Borrowed Time
. To be more specific, the music on here isn’t as heavy (or inspired of course) as on the band’s debut, but neither as “poppy” as on their sophomore release that boasted the likes of “Call Me” or “In the Heat of the Night”. In addition, the band’s new singer will bring to mind Sean Harris but doesn’t sound as Plant-esque; he uses a more raspy approach and can certainly be considered as an upgrade from previous vocalist, Nick Tart. However, what makes or breaks a Diamond Head album, is the level of riffs and fortunately there are a lot of standout moments on here. Where the LP works better is on the more energetic tracks and one needs to look no further than album opener “Bones”, “Shout at the Devil” and “See You Rise”. Those three tracks are some of the fastest yet most catchy material on the LP. The riffs are infectious and memorable, the guitar tone is impeccable and the bass audible. “Wizard Sleeve” for example, with its UFO-flavored riff is a typical example of the bass work on here while “Speed” is a highly representative sample of the album.
Nevertheless, all is not great on Diamond Head’s latest full length. When the band lowers the pace and level of energy such as on the semi-epic “All the Reasons You Live”, the political “Our Time Is Now” or their version of “Kashmir” titled “Silence”, the outcome isn’t as interesting. Similarly, “Blood On My Hands” isn’t a bad song per se but feels a bit run of the mill. However, even these tracks have their moments in the form of an interesting guitar solo or a catchy moment. For example, “Set My Soul On Fire” is saved by the strong bridge after the chorus and Tatler’s solo while the penultimate “Diamonds” saves the LP from a mediocre second half and a weak closing.
All in all, Diamond Head
is a solid effort even though it’s miles behind the legendary Lightning to the Nations
but at the same time can look Borrowed Time
straight in the eyes. Granted, removing one or two tracks or decreasing the duration of a couple of others would help in avoiding a sense of tiredness towards the end. But after a sequence of disappointing releases, it’s surprising how Tatler and Co. have bounced back to the point of releasing one of the year’s strongest NWOBHM album’s along with Satan’s Atom by Atom