Once upon a time, there was a New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. This new wave included the likes of Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Tygers Of Pan Tang, Witchfynde, Saxon and Diamond Head – amongst many, many others. I remember it well as the wave was getting going as I started my own musical journey and I still enjoy the musical output of it’s survivors.
During this new wave period, Diamond Head released three albums – the self published White Album (or Lightning To The Nations), the very successful Borrowed Time (which is another favourite) and Canterbury (which I think is their best).
Canterbury was something of a stylistic departure for Diamond Head, shifting from the heavy metal roots of their first two albums to a rather more progressive vein. In fact, it is quiet an experimental album in places, especially given the metallic background against which it was composed. That might be why I have such a fondness for it but this change in direction is also considered to be one reason why commercial success eluded the band – check out the Diamond Head article on Wikipedia for more info on this.
The track listing for the album reveals an almost medieval theme to the piece:
Out Of Phase
One More Night
To The Devil His Due
Knight Of The Swords
I Need Your Love
This is borne out when the lyrics of tracks 3, 5, 6, 7 and 9 are considered (visit the Diamond Head site to read these for yourself) and perhaps that was enough to put people off this album, or perhaps it was the more complex and less metal musical style. And maybe it was these things that meant it took me a few listens to get into it but it did stick and has remained an often listened to part of my collection (on LP, then tape, then a digital copy, and more recently a nice, shiny CD with a couple of extra tracks).
As an example of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal’s finer melodic moments, it is well worth checking out. Their previous album, Borrowed Time, stands out on its own as an example of the heavier side of the genre and is also a damn fine album. Both show Sean Harris (lead vocals) and Brian Tatler (lead guitar) as damn fine songwriters – at least IMHO – and on the strength of these albums, I thought Diamond Head would be around for a while but this was not to be. Various pressures led to a split in 1985 and a follow up to Canterbury did not emerge until 1993 in the form of Death And Progress. It was a solid release, I felt, but I don’t think it did that well and things did not go well on the tour to promote it. So once again Diamond Head disappeared from view.
They have since returned to active duty with two more … traditional-modern (or modern-traditional – does that even make sense?) rock/metal albums All Will Be Revealed and What’s In Your Head. Both are very listenable and I’m happy to have them in my collection. However, for me, Canterbury remains their creative peak and one of the best albums I own.
In closing, I note that Diamond Head have some live dates coming up this July, including Sonisphere dates in the UK and France – see www.diamond-head.net for more info. It’d be cool to see them play live but that’s a bit beyond my current means. I shall just take my Canterbury CD for another spin (or three) instead.
The original of this post can be found here.