Diamond Head - Diamond Head - (7.5/10)
Published on April 27, 2016
Diamond Head are one of the NWoBHM’s cult acts, having risen to relative fame with their two first albums Lightning to the Nations (1980) and Borrowed Time (1982, sporting an outstanding cover by Rodney Matthews of Magnum fame) and Metallica’s covers of several of their songs. Come their 1983 album Canterbury, though, things began to sour, taking on a more classic rock influenced direction that did not sit well with fans and critics alike, and after their reunion in 2000, 2005’s All Will Be Revealed and 2007’s What’s in Your Head? fared even worse, all the way to being called a “disgrace” to the Diamond Head name with their modern approach to their music.
Nine years after their last effort, Brian Tatler and crew are back, with new Danish-born vocalist Rasmus Bom Andersen, and one thing becomes clear very quickly, any traces of modernity are gone, quite the contrary, Diamond Head seem to have done the complete 180 and gone completely retro. Back in their early heyday, people had likened them to become new Led Zeppelin and with Diamond Head there is a chance that they might finally live up to that promise, even if just in terms of sound.
“Bones” is as traditional as heavy metal in the style of the 80s comes, driving, powerful, with a nice slowdown for the chorus, possibly the best track the Britons have penned since their first two albums, with “Shout at the Devil” also displaying some great energy and “Set My Soul on Fire” taking on a more plodding approach that also invokes some Led Zeppelin memories with Andersen’s vocal delivery showing some substantial influence by Robert Plant, adding to this impression.
After that Tatler and cohorts continue to lead Diamond Head down the road splitting the 70s and 80s and a few excursions to either side of the road, with driving “See You Rise” and epic “All the Reasons You Live”, but once “Our Time is Now” hits things get a little samey and the retro feel loses a bit of its appeal, running out of steam and getting a little dry. And it’s not until faster “Diamonds” that things pick up again and closing “Silence” with its symphonic flourishes bears the maybe strongest Led Zeppelin influence.
Even though at first the strongly retro sound might take listeners a little aback, Diamond Head evolves into the band’s best album in 33 years with repeated listens and pretty much sounds like what the Brits should have released in 1983 instead of their attempt at a more commercially viable sound titled Canterbury. Even the album’s production fits in without sounding dated, rounding off a surprising comeback after seven years of silence. It remains amazing how many “old” bands, especially from England, still prove that they have what it takes to compete with today’s metal!