Released: 11th March
Genre: Heavy Metal
Brian Tatler-Lead Guitar
Rasmus Bom Andersen-Lead Vocals
Andy ‘abbz’ Abberly-Rhythm Guitar
Shout At The Devil
Set My Soul On Fire
See You Rise
All The Reasons You Live
Our Time Is Now
Blood On My Hands
The world and his dog know the influence the Holy Trinity of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple have had on hard rock and heavy metal. So much so, at times the conversation becomes an overwhelming bore. So if you nudge those forerunners to one side for the time being, there still remains a clatter of iconic giants whose impact is equally as legendary. Bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest will always spring to mind, but if you want to go a little more hardcore, you won’t find anyone as important as Diamond Head. As part of the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) movement, the band never truly realised their true potential on a commercial level. But still they’re cited as a pioneering influence on likes of Metallica, Megadeth, and countless others.
After gaggles of line up changes over the years, founder Brian Tatler remains. And four decades on since their formation, this self-titled album is their first lump of material in eight years. And the first to feature new vocalist Rasmus Bom Andersen. And what a way to announce your arrival than with furious opener Bones. This is pure and simply classic British heavy metal, no frills, no bells and whistles, just a barbaric orgy of authoritive vocals and power riffage.
Messrs Mustaine and Hetfield will no doubt salivate at the trashy Shout At The Devil. It’s assaulting pace and fist-yielding chorus will leave you in no doubt why the band are held in such high esteem in the thrash metal genre. Reminiscent of their vintage work, the pounding military like stomp of Set My Soul On Fire is already suited and booted for live work. The caustic change of pace takes the track to a whole new level and Tatler’s solo will have their dandruff-laden faithful in a brain shaking frenzy.
Much to the disgust of some of their most hardened followers, Diamond Head have at times been labelled with a progressive rock tag. And in fairness that tag can’t be denied on All The Reasons You Live. Packed with seriously dramatic keyboards and some zany melodic fretwork, it might not be for a denim and leather purist, but will appeal to those who like some subtle futuristic tones in their rock.
My first encounter with Diamond Head was in 1982 when they performed on the legendary BBC rock show The Old Grey Whistle Test. Memories of them belting out To Heaven From Hell came flooding back as the glorious retro vibes of Wizards Sleeve and Speed rang out. The years are well and truly rolled back on these two beauties, and if All The Reasons You Live left you DH novices in sceptic mode of their metal credentials, crank these bad boys up to the fatter side of eleven for an ear-splitting lesson.
Tatler had toyed with idea of not recording anymore new material with the band, but the addition of Andersen to the ranks gave him a renewed impetus. The Danish singer’s suggestion that the album should be written as a collective has proved a stroke of genius. The masterful Blood On My Hands is cast iron proof of that, it might seem a slow burner at first, but its gradual power and tempo changes are measured perfectly. Andersen once again proves he’s a singer of fine pedigree with some haunting and versatile vocals, which bind beautifully with Tatler’s mix of thunderous and dulcet fretwork.
Without doubt the finest track on the album, Diamonds has a hook and a chorus that you’d get up in the middle of the night to listen to. If you fast believe that the days of great metal songs being produced are dwindling, Michelin star tracks like this will restore your faith. Bands of Diamond Head’s vintage are not going to be around forever, so step forward the next willing batch of wannabes who think they can match quality like this. If they can, then the brutal iron fist of heavy metal will long continue to pack a formidable punch.
Written by Brian Boyle
Rating: Brian 10/10