Thursday, April 21, 2016

Diamond Head - Self-Titled (2016)

As a first time listener of Diamond Head, I know very little about them. I had a tough time getting into their earlier work, but most of what I heard from them were singles on satellite radio ages ago. I was still a teenager and my tastes in music hadn't quite matured to what they are now (even though I'll admit that I still enjoy a lot of stuff I listened to as a teenager.) In any case, I wasn't expecting a heavy metal album from these guys, and it's not what I got from them either. Diamond Head come from the days when bands like Motorhead, Black Sabbath and even Mercyful Fate were just considered rock n' roll. Lemmy never considered himself a metal musician and he never thought of the band as a metal band. Motorhead were always rock n' roll and that's what Diamond Head has delivered here, flawlessly.

Now I've been reading the Metal Archives reviews regarding the bands last couple of albums, and never have I seen lower scores for an act. They're in the twenties and thirties, which is practically unreal. So I'm not sure what happened, but given the eight years after the band's previous release, What's In Your Head (2008) it would seem that they've gotten their shit together, as a bit heavier sound that's quite reminiscent of Led Zeppelin seems to have formed out of this one. Interestingly enough, the band was poised to become the next Led Zeppelin and failed miserably in that after being signed to MCA Records many years ago. But one thinks, if they'd released an album like this, they might have had a better chance. Simply put, Diamond Head is the kind of record that just sounds like the formula done right.

I'm hearing dozens of solos, loads of memorable rhythms, and a vocal performance from new frontman Rasmus Bom Anderson that I'd just consider pretty mind-boggling. There's absolutely no denying the classic Led Zeppelin influences here, and Diamond Head may as well have made another classic-era Led Zeppelin record with this album, but I think it's the kind of thing that will find a lot of appeal. As I said, you're actually getting riffs and solos here, especially on near-epics like “All The Reasons You Live” and the meditative trance, “Silence.” Yeah, I know. I'm already waiting for it – a reviewer is going to hear “Silence” and immediately think that the band might be completely ripping off Led Zeppelin, but even if it's obvious that things have been borrowed, it still sounds very good. It's like playing a very good fan made game, which manages to come in as as strong (or sometimes even stronger) than the original product. This record even features the orchestrations and oriental soundscapes that we'd expect from the band they're emulating, which isn't a terrible thing. If you're going to copy Zeppelin, at least be sure to do it justice, which has been done here.

As I said, I'm not familiar with the band's first two NWOBHM albums, Lightning To The Nations or Borrowed Time, so I can't talk about what they used to do or how great of a band they may have been in their earlier, heavier era. But what I can say here, is that the listener is getting a 100% classic rock-fueled record that feels very much like Led Zeppelin in their prime. It goes without saying that this is more or less what the band was attempting to do almost twenty years ago, and I'm really glad that they've finally been able to pull it off after a nearly forty year existence. Andersen is a fine new fit for them, as Brian Tatler and Andy Abberley play up an absolute storm. I went into the disc not knowing what to expect, but I found my toes tapping and fingers tapping along while I was buying groceries, and I think that several other listeners will find the same things happened to them. It's just good rock n' roll and it's done right, with the essence and spirit that make the genre what it is today. I'd definitely give it a listen, as it simply has to be better than the last couple of releases they've put out.

(11 Tracks, 48:00)


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