“Diamond Head”; one band - so many near misses. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve thought “this is it, they’re going to be massive” – and somehow it never quite has been. Diamond Head produced a couple of stellar LPs back in the early 80’s, but whilst the stars of the NWOBHM rose to take-on and tour the world, they signed with a bloke who ran a cardboard factory and the singer’s mum as management and then mostly stayed at home. It could have all changed with third full-lengther “Canterbury”, but they decided to update their sound and confused and lost a lot of fans along the way. So – several line-up changes and three decades later, we get the eponymous seventh album.
A short while ago someone on a Facebook Group asked about how to write good songs, and you could pretty-well tell the replies from people who actually write, because they were the ones that said “write a lot and then throw all the crap ones away” Well, the band must have written a skip-load of songs for “Diamond Head” because it’s packed with far more than their fair share of great song ideas. Given that Brian Tatler is the sole remaining member of the band’s early-eighties line-up, I was surprised by how much this collection reminds me of the vintage band, even though they actually do sound quite different in a direct comparison. So, what have we got?
Opener “Bones” gives us a moment to get into the groove before new(ish) singer Rasmus Bom Andersen nails it like he was born for this band. It’s hard to describe what makes a song “right” but it’s all here, and it leads into more classic DH riffage with “Shout At The Devil” (no it’s not a cover of, um, “Shout At The Devil”); we really are back in the glory days here.
“Set My Soul On Fire” grinds and bruises until Tatler lights it up with a good old-fashioned British triplet laced solo, “See You Rise” riffs its way almost towards a Ramones 4-on-the-floor, and “All The Reasons You Live” slow-builds from stringed intro to mid-tempo power chorus and laid-back guitar solo before “Wizard Sleeve” and “Our Time Is Now” sort of follow on. I loved both tracks when I listened to them on their own but in the flow of the album they got just a little bit overshadowed for me (I know – they’ll turn out to be every-one else’s favourite tracks – vive la difference!). “Speed“ puts me in-mind of Motorhead without Lemmy; follower “Blood On My Hands” gives Ras (as I’m now calling him) a chance to stretch-out, “Diamonds” slices short and sharp, and “Silence” is simply epic!
“Diamond Head” doesn’t have a weak song on it; I’d probably put “Wizard Sleeve” and “Our Time Is Now” in a different place in the running order, but seriously, this is simply one hell of an album from one hell of a line-up.