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Quick Review: DIAMOND HEAD Diamond Head

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Having sporadically released new material in the decades since their debut single in 1979, Diamond Head continue to be primarily known for their first two albums, Lightning to the Nations and Borrowed Time, not to mention their contemporary non-album singles. By 1983's aboutface Canterbury, however, indifference for these NWOBHM legends became more status quo than anomaly for most fans, to the point that even fairly recent albums have struggled to stay in print with the kind of longevity as those early  classics.

Guitarist Brian Tatler has been Diamond Head's only constant, spearheading a rotating cast of musicians that often serviced better as hired hands for touring purposes than effective songwriting partners. Tatler cites the addition of vocalist Rasmus Born Andersen to the touring lineup in 2014 as the impetus for finally getting back in the studio (the band's most recent effort up to now was 2007's long forgotten What's In Your Head?), and it's easy to see how Andersen's complementary voice – part bluesy moan, part high note wail – provided Tatler a unique opportunity to circle back to Diamond Head's  roots. Not entirely a Sean Harris clone, Andersen nonetheless sports many of that singer's more engaging affectations: the sensual dragging out of end phrases, the ability to effortlessly vacillate between confident tough guy and swooning lothario with ease, etc.

Mainly, though, Andersen is on board to help put over Tatler's commanding riffs, and Tatler has come to the table with some of his all-time best: opening cut "Bones" is about as good as anything on Lightning to the Nations, "Shout at the Devil" is more Priest than anything Rob Halford & co. have put out since the 70's, and "Wizard Sleeve" would have made a dynamite Diamond Lights outtake. "All the Reasons You Live" and "Silence" prove that Tatler learned some valuable lessons from 90's era guitarists; neither reads like the grunge-era afterthought that saw many of that decade's 80's holdover struggle desperately to master.

The second half of the album does fall prey somewhat to an anticlimactic inability to maintain the sterling heights of side one, but as a whole Diamond Head is easily the strongest of the band's albums since 1993's Death in Progress, in most ways exceeding that effort with several high water marks fully equaling their early 80's heyday.

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Score: 8/10

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