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Diamond Head – Lightning to the Nations 2020 Award winner

Diamond Head
Lightning to the Nations 2020
by Mark Machlay at 19 January 2021, 7:03 AM

My journey with English NWOBHM band DIAMOND HEAD began back in December of 1998. I was growing heavily interested in harder-edged metal music and received METALLICA’s infamous “Garage Inc.” record for Christmas that year. At first, I was a bigger fan of the many newly recorded covers on the first disc, but I soon grew more interested in the older covers and three in particular, DIAMOND HEAD’s “Helpless”, “The Prince” and especially “Am I Evil?” The last of which would be a track I would go on to play many times in the high school metal band of which I was a part. I was lucky to find a compilation album – “Behold the Beginning” but never any studio albums back when brick and mortar record stores still existed. I may have illegally downloaded many tracks but never was able to find another physical album of theirs.

Much like my interest in them, the band got quite a boost from influencing and being covered by the mighty METALLICA but the band would ultimately breakup after the compilation – originally released in 1986. They had a small resurgence in the early 90s, even releasing a 4th album but would be plagued by the National Bowl Incident in which the band opened for MEGADETH and METALLICA. Unfortunately, after being inactive for many years, fans thought they were covering METALLICA’s songs and the performance was allegedly subpar due to several problems. They would later reform in 2000 playing some unplugged gigs and re-working their songs. Unfortunately, long time singer and rhythm guitarist Sean Harris would leave the group during the recording of their comeback album. Nick Tart of CANNOCK would be asked to front the band in 2004 and they went on to release “All Will Be Revealed” in 2005 and “What’s in Your Head” in 2007 to decent reviews. After Tart emigrated his family to Brisbane, Australia, it started costing the band extra just to fly their singer out for tours and the band parted ways with him. Soon after, they recruited the Danish born Rasmus Bom Anderson and released a self-titled album in 2016 to fantastic critical acclaim and further released “The Coffin Train” in 2019, reaching even higher on the UK Metal charts than their previous self-titled album.

When I first heard DIAMOND HEAD were planning to re-record and release their highly influential debut album “Lightning to the Nations” for its 40th anniversary back in mid-2020 I was skeptical. I was aware of their recent resurgence and of the poor quality of the original recordings so I was optimistic but ultimately thought it was a cash grab. I can say with complete confidence that all the love and care was put into this release and it elevates the songs to the level at which they deserved, the level and potential that METALLICA saw in them back in 1980. Says founding guitarist Brian Tatler, “we thought it’d be great to re-record the debut album with this lineup and the modern technology available.” Given that the original was recorded and mixed in a week, the band were only 19-20 years old at the time, and didn’t yet possess of the techniques and craftsmanship to record with the sort of energy that they could now, it seemed like a decent idea.

I have to agree with Tatler whole-heartedly. The mix of “Lightning to the Nations 2020” is alive, the songs simply jump right out of the speakers and have a fire and ferocity that an 80s recording could never match. That prime cut anthem “Am I Evil” is fiery and energetic, there is nothing of the rawness and flat frequency that make the old recordings sound like exactly that, old recordings. But they add a few goodies onto the end to sweeten the deal with a handful of covers of classic songs from influencers and influences. In a perfect tip of the hat, “No Remorse” from METALLICA’s own debut album “Kill ‘em All” gets a powerful modern rendition as well as song each from the likes of LED ZEPPELIN – a heavily electrified version of “Immigrant Song” worthy of Valhalla – as well as JUDAS PRIEST and DEEP PURPLE.  It’s a great package and well worth purchasing the special double vinyl edition.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 9

5 Star Rating

1. Lightning to the Nations
2. The Prince
3. Sucking My Love
4. Am I Evil?
5. Sweet and Innocent
6. It’s Electric
7. Helpless
8. No Remorse (METALLICA cover)
9. Immigrant Song (LED ZEPPELIN cover)
10. Sinner (JUDAS PRIEST cover)
11. Rat Bat Blue (DEEP PURPLE cover)
Brian Tatler – Lead & Rhythm Guitars
Rasmus Bom Anderson – Vocals, Orchestration & Additional Guitars
Karl Wilcox – Drums
Andrew “Abbz” Abberley – Lead & Rhythm Guitars
Deadn Ashton – Bass & Organ
Record Label: Silver Lining Music


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