Diamond Head – “The Coffin Train” (Silver Lining Music)
Battle Helm Rating
Famed forever for being one of Metallica’s influences, the sun certainly shone on Diamond Head back in the day, who even while still at school were confident enough to write their own material and play to sizeable followings. So much so in fact, that it didn’t take long before the fledgling band were supporting AC/DC and Iron Maiden, as well as attracting attention from a certain Leber / Krebs Management, who would go on to manage Metallica! However, t’was not to be and while Maiden and Def Leppard would go onto become household names, Diamond Head’s fortune took repeated turns for the worse, even though breaks came their way over the course of time. There were many reasons for this which are probably best laid to rest, however, in 2016 the band released their self titled 7th album that would see the star shining in their cosmos once again. With founder guitarist Brian Tatler now joined by vocalist Rasmus Bom Andersen, a killer writing combination would now be forged reactivating this band onto greater fortune as well as doing justice to their legacy! Despite its sombre title, this 8th album is anything but that, instead blowing my mind as a high energy hard rock album proudly taking in the band’s NWOBHM roots through Tatler, while having a modern edge thanks to Andersen. The 10 tracks definitely err towards the glory days of the band when the likes of ‘Am I Evil’ and ‘The Prince’ were wowing many a young headbanger, including myself, given their obvious heaviness yet also alluring melody, and all presented with such class thanks to the terrific musicianship. “The Coffin Train” has this in abundance throughout, with Tatler producing some of his best riffs and guitar work in many a year, while Andersen, vocally reminiscent in many places to Sean Harris, has done a superb job equally in the production of this release. Opening with the chugging ‘Belly Of The Beast’, the Zepp influences are evident in Andersen’s highs and yelps, while Tatler’s roaring riffs and kick ass licks are undeniable in making this a head shaker from the off as the twin guitar solos wail and yell as the drums go into double bass mode – wow! Burning through with even more guitar dexterity on ‘The Messenger’, you really get to appreciate why Brian Tatler is still regarded as one of NWOBHM’s greatest (if underrated) guitarists, and as the massive groove just rocks right into you graced by Andersen’s red blooded vocals, you realise that Diamond Head have lost none of their spirit and why the stars have always been in their grasp. With the crystal clear but loud sound being another plus point of the album, the guitar work once again shines on ‘Death By Design’ which is nothing short of classic and in my opinion a worthy successor to ‘Am I Evil’ thanks to its captivating lead melody, unbelievable balls deep raging riff and in no small part, Andersen’s soulful highs adding that final crucial component to Diamond Head’s winning formula. At last, Brian and Diamond Head may have found that long elusive success.