1. Diamond Head – Diamond Head
Nine long years after the release of Diamond Head’s last album, What’s In Your Head?, the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal heroes were back with a new frontman leading the line. The good news was Rasmus Bom Andersen fitted in perfectly, retaining a distinctive wail of his own but honouring Sean Harris’ style with a familiar but never derivative delivery; it would appear that Diamond Head, post 1983, had finally found their frontman!
The even better news was that first and foremost, Diamond Head was an outstanding modern melodic metal release. They needed to bounce back with something spectacular and spectacular is what they delivered!
Of course, the root of their success had always stemmed from the nimble fingers of a certain Brian Tatler. We’re stating the bloody obvious here but King Tatler is a truly incredible riff writer, overflowing with ideas and Diamond Head found him still conjuring masterstrokes that would have sounded at home on their genre-defining debut; as evidenced on the ironically youthful “Bones”.
The many virtues of this great album don’t just begin and end with Diamond Head’s classic NWOBHM sound either! Doom riffs? Tatler had ’em licked (check out that neck-wrecking beginning of “Set My Soul On Fire”). Thrash riffs, shit….the man practically invented them (give “Shout At The Devil” a go). Unsurprisingly, each and every track on this beast was underpinned by a tectonic Tatler riff, taking center-stage and showcasing the seemingly endless talent behind one of metal’s most under appreciated bands.
There was also a knowing cheekiness flowing through Diamond Head’s 7th album, an assurance and a confidence that nodded to their past and their deserved position amongst metal’s most pioneering acts. Was that the iconic riff from “Am I Evil” nonchalantly tacked on to the end of the prescient “Our Time Is Now”? Does Rasmus shriek “shout at the devil” in such a ‘familiar’ way to remind the world just who the real 80’s metal heroes actually were? You be the judge but it all added up to a refreshingly nostalgic yet forward thinking experience nonetheless. The past is the past – and while Diamond Head know how paramount their debut was in forming the sound of heavy metal – it’s to the future that they now set their stare.
One last question needs to be posed. Was this self-titled release in the same league as the all-time NWOBHM classics Lightning To The Nations and Borrowed Time? Hell, we’ll throw the severely underrated Canterbury in there as well! Not quite, but it was close. Damn close. And the fact that Diamond Head, in 2016, could return with an album so full of ideas – and without losing sight of their core sound – was a triumph and Diamond Head was infinitely better than fans could ever have hoped for!
The best NWOBHM album of 2016 by a country mile!
You need to hear: The whole damn thing!
Enjoyed this? Read our countdown of 2016’s greatest thrash albums as well!