Released: 2016, Dissonance Productions
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Like so many pivotal metal bands of the late 70’s/early 80’s, Diamond Head was both a pioneer and a casualty of the NWOBHM scene. Bad business deals, lineup drama, and a global musical climate that was unprepared for heavy metal’s six string roar, it's a familiar tale. But then a young, aspiring band named Metallica grabbed the world by the balls and reintroduced the music of Diamond Head to the new generation of metal heads. “Am I Evil?”, “The Prince”, “Helpless”, “It’s Electric” are more often associated with Metallica these days, but they all share a writing credit with Brian Tatler.
The renewed interest in Diamond Head has spurred several reformations/breakups/re-reformations over the years, currently leaving Tatler as the sole original member from the band’s classic lineup. But man, the guy can still write classic songs. Diamond Head’s latest, self-titled release celebrates a history 40 years strong, and is easily his most confident material since the early 80’s. Age may have mellowed the songwriting a pinch, but there’s plenty to enjoy across these 11 new tracks.
Think the melodic, hard rock inclinations of CANTEBURY with the fan sensibilities of LIGHTNING TO THE NATIONS and BORROWED TIME. It’s a more mature sounding band for sure, but the songs are catchy, the riffs are slick, and the vocal lines are insanely charismatic; think 80’s-era Rainbow on Viagra. There’s no shortage of classic guitar licks and catchy vocal hooks across the album, and on more than one occasion I found myself uttering from under my headphones “dammit, that was really good”. In a perfect world, you’d hear a song like “Bones” on your local classic rock station. Tunes like “Shout at the Devil” (no, not a Crue cover) and “Diamonds” are throwback headbangin’, engines racing down the highway metal, while gems like “Wizard Sleeve” sound like a Deep Purple b-side. As tight as the musical performance are, new vocalist Rasmus Bom Andersen (say that 3 times fast) deserves much of the credit for the album’s success. He’s insanely malleable to the melody surrounding him, bending vocal notes across sonic peaks and valleys without so much as a flinch. His delivery is the perfect complement to Tatler’s riffs, and genuinely brings additional life to the songs.
Diamond Head’s legacy is already well established in the hallowed halls of heavy metal history, but the band intends to prove that four decades in, there’s still some history yet to be made. DIAMOND HEAD is the kind of fun, classic metal that there’s just not enough these days. Grab your significant other, pound some brews, and crank this to 11.