There have been worse times to be a flagship NWOBHM metal band in recent memory.
Would you, for example, have thought Satan would be touring the US if I’d told you this would have been the case 10 years ago?
I think not.
Or just look at the rapturous reaction that Venom Inc. have received for their recent gigs across Europe and the USA and the rise of festivals like Brofest and Garage Dayz Re-visited.
Like I said, there have certainly been worse times to be associated with the somewhat nebulous term that is the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.
Escaping that term for a band like Diamond Head is somewhat difficult. They are inexorably bound to it like they are to certain San Franciscan bands.
I revisited ‘Lightning to the Nations’ recently and was, once again, struck by the absolute energy of the thing as well as the fucking great songs. It’s tempting to ask yourself why Diamond Head didn’t reach the same level of fame some of the other leading names of the NWOBHM.
The answers are there for all to see: management decisions, production issues and a notoriously fickle UK rock press all played their part but it’s also tempting not to care when Diamond Head graced us with such an incredible debut album.
So how does this self titled effort stack up?
It’s noticeably a Diamond Head album; the Zeppelin-isms and class are there for all to see. And that in itself is probably something I couldn’t say about 2007’s “What’s In Your Head?”
It begins strongly with “Bones” having a bit of an Achilles Last Stand feel to it (always a good thing) and “Shout at the Devil” being a nice- straightforward rocker.
After that, there’s a bit of a more modern vibe creeping in and I can’t say it’s for the better.
I’m reminded a little bit of Audioslave, and that’s not my cup of tea at all.
New vocalist Rasmus Bom Andersen has more than a bit of Chris Cornell to his voice as well as more than a bit of similarity to Sean Harris – that’s no bad thing in itself but I can’t help but think that Diamond Head were always defined by the Harris/Tatler partnership and that his presence is always going to be somewhat missing on any DH album he’s not present on.
Even on the lesser tracks on the album there are some positives to be found.
Brian Tatler’s lead playing is exemplary and to the bands credit even in some of the more drop tuned moments of the album don’t give off the sense that they’re trying to get down with the kids too hard.
It’s certainly not an attempt to make their heaviest album yet or anything like that.
In reviewing this, I’m very much aware that it isn’t the Diamond Head album that I want, but I know that it’s impossible to recreate “The Prince” in 2016 and yet I still want them to do it… but one only has to look at the overwhelming majority of bands trying to write the logical successor to their masterpiece and seeing that mediocrity often results.
The phrase damned if you do, damned if you don’t comes to mind.
This isn’t a bad album by any means and I’d wager that it puts to shame much of what Classic Rock magazine is touting as the new saviours of rock ‘n’ roll this month but it’s just not for me at the end of the day.
2.6/5 – Tom Andrew ::: 10/07/16