Dissonance [Release date 23.06.17]
Diamond Head were at the forefront of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, and were influential on many, most notably Metallica, who covered several Diamond Head tracks, most famously Am I Evil.
Formed in the West Midlands in 1976 by guitarist Brian Tatler and drummer Duncan Scott, they were fronted by vocalist Sean Harris. Influenced by Deep Purple, Free, UFO and Led Zeppelin, they set out to concentrate on original material, although in their early days they covered tracks by Black Sabbath, Motorhead and Montrose.
Between 1980 and 1983 the band released three albums; Lightning To The Nations, Borrowed Time and Canterbury, with Tatler and Harris the constant factor, before splitting and reforming 10 years later.
These two albums were originally released in 1993 and 1994 respectively, a much overlooked period of the band’s career, although the reformation would be ill fated; this was largely due to what was considered a below par performance at the Milton Keynes Bowl, opening for Metallica. Ill health, pressure, lack of rehearsal and ill-informed Metallica fans taking tracks like Am I Evil as covers all contributed.
1993’s Death And Progress was an excellent album, and alongside Harris and Tatler are bassist Pete Vuckovic and drummer Karl Wilcox. The album kicks off with the trad metal Starcrossed, that featured Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi. Truckin’ is in a similar vein and features Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine. There’s some fantastic guitar work throughout the album, which gives a modern edge to 70s hard rock. It’s solid beginning to end. Dust mixes influences of Hanoi Rocks and mid 80s AC/DC. Other tracks feature touches of blues and soul that nod to Free. ****
The 2CD Evil Live, released the following year, features the aforementioned live performance which on disc sounds better than the show was reported. Opener Am I Evil, with extended intro as the band takes to the stage, and seems to go down well. A lot of Metallica fans will have known the name as an influence without actually knowing the music.
Mixing early tracks and more recent material, the music is excellent and at times with energy, but at others it does seem a little flat.
The second disc mixes covers and other previously unreleased tracks. Bad Company’s Good Lovin’ sounds good, while Joni Mitchel’s This Flight Tonight takes much from the Nazareth arrangement that originally popularlised the song in 1973. Rock fans will also love the solid covers of Montrose and Mr Big.
Kiss Of Fire has a funk touch and Feels Good has vocal harmonies you’d expect from 80s glam metal bands, the band seem a little lost here, a little disjointed. Largely good but an element of a mixed bag. ***1/2
The studio album is essential listening, the live set is good, enjoyable, but more for the collector.
Review by Joe Geesin
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