Diamond Head – “Diamond Head” (Dissonance)
Now there’s a name. As a 14 year old, Diamond Head was the first gig I ever attended – coincidentally the same show as Lars Ulrich – at the Woolwich Odeon back in 1981. Not that I remember seeing Ulrich, despite there being only about 40 people there given there was rumored to be a race riot in town that night, but clearly the event would have a profound effect on both of us, he to go onto form one of metal’s biggest bands in history, and me to be still here content to listen to metal and write about it. Diamond Head were one of the most upcoming bands at the time, bringing together the best in British metal from youthful looks to talented musicianship and excellent songs that everyone from university intellectuals to bikers and headbangers could appreciate. Proof was in “Borrowed Time”, a major label release reaching Number 24 on the UK album charts! One year on and the beginning of the end began. From label problems to changes in musical direction and the band’s line up, Diamond Head began to fracture as far as the fans were concerned leading to the band folding in the mid 80s. Ironically, it would be Metallica that resurrected them in the 90s through covering ‘Am I Evil’, to another short lived stint until the turn of the century, when the long lived, if short fused relationship between founder guitarist Brian Tatler and vocalist Sean Harris, came to a final end. Since then the band have remained active on the touring front, if less so album wise, their last release being in 2007. Now onto their 3rd vocalist in London College of Contemporary Music graduate Rasmus Bom Andersen, this namesake album has taken me by a complete surprise – it’s 1981 all over again! Mind you, not some retro effort but taking that successful essence, sound and style from 3 decades back and giving it a modern makeover – even if Brian Tatler didn’t wanna write again, boy, has he still got in him! From that authentic NWOBHM warm n heavy guitar sound to the riffs that got everyone sweaty over “Lightning To The Nations”, it’s all across the 11 songs here, which I listened to over and over again. With Andy ‘Abbz’ Abberley on rhythm guitar, the sound has gotten chunkier, while giving Tatler the room to deliver plenty of lead breaks, licks and of course some excellent soloing. Best of all, there’s a definite energy to songs like ‘Shout At The Devil‘, ‘Speed’ and ‘Our Time Is Now’ which can only come from a happy and productive collaboration, which Tatler seems to have found in Andersen, whose voice incidentally is like a youthful Harris, so I really hope Brian can keep this line up together. Fast rockers, mid tempo headbangers, epic ballads, this namesake album has them all in this amazing blast from the past!