Diamond Head

Picture of Diamond Head

Lightning to the Nations

Diamond Head - Lightning to the Nations ©1980 Happy Face Records
1. Lightning to the Nations
2. The Prince
3. Sucking My Love
4. Am I Evil?
5. Sweet and Innocent
6. It's Electric
7. Helpless

To be realistic, it is literally impossible to discuss Diamond Head's 1980 debut, Lightning To the Nations, without discussing the band that brought this somewhat obscure British band into the widespread public realm. Given that Metallica has managed to cover just about half of this album at one point or another, it is safe to say that just about all of us got our first exposure to these songs because Metallica recorded them. And given the steadfast and enduring support from Metallica, Diamond Head has managed to reform a couple times and have a small career rather than disappear into total obscurity.

Originally, Lightning to the Nations was self funded and released in a plain white sleeve that the band members signed before sending out. So to some it's considered "The White Album". One of the early purchasers happened to be Lars Ulrich, who apparently took it upon himself to fly to England and pester these guys in person for awhile. Obviously Ulrich has been both an ardent supporter and borderline creeper in the lives of the Diamond Head members. That said, giving this album a listen several decades later, it surprisingly holds up fairly well. Granted, these are generally quite familiar songs since I've heard the Metallica versions about a zillion times and it's not as though Metallica truly put them through a musical blender to rearrange them into something entirely different. I don't think they're quite capable of that feat. Anyhow, what Diamond Head presented was a set of songs that were solidly written, a bit more aggressive than some of their British contemporaries and often catchy. There's more than a few albums from that time period that sound painfully dated, but this one manages to sound quaintly dated instead.

It's worth noting that four of the seven songs here stretch six minutes or longer, occasionally consuming more time than necessary, so that obviously also inspired Metallica.

This album has since been repackaged, remastered, even remixed by quite a few sketchy record labels. The band themselves admit that despite the apparent influence they had on other bands, they haven't seen a penny from album sales over the decade. Without having the original vinyl handy for a comparison, it's hard to say how the very original pressing sounded. However, that said, this is one of those influential albums that actually is worth the trouble of seeking out, if nothing else to hear the small kick in the pants Diamond Head ended up providing at least a portion of speed and thrash metal.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2013

Back to top 

Behold The Beginning

Diamond Head - Behold The Beginning ©1992 Metal Blade
1. Am I Evil?
2. It’s Electric
3. The Prince
4. Sucking My Love
5. Streets Of Gold
6. Play It Loud
7. Shoot Out The Lights
8. Sweet And Innocent
9. Waited Too Long
10. Helpless

Unless you're a devoted old-school metalhead, you probably haven't heard of Diamond Head except through the liner notes from various Metallica cover tunes, which isn't entirely surprising but is really a bummer, 'cuz Behold the Beginning contains some great songs which deserve a place of honor in the metal pantheon. This disc, which is a remixed and repackaged version of Diamond Head's debut album, Lightning to the Nations, with the addition of the subsequent single release "Waited Too Long," is a solid collection of tunes, chock-full of great guitar riffs. The style in which Diamond Head structured its music—-a relatively straightforward but killer riff, played quickly in a percussive fashion over a rock-solid rhythm section and howling vocals over top of it all like whipped cream on a sundae—-was the direct inspiration for Metallica's early days, as is obvious in the now-famous band's cover of a Diamond Head original, "Am I Evil?". As far as the sonic quality of the disc goes, it isn't half as bad as you might expect, considering the year of recording and the indie budget, but the sound is a bit thin. And the vocalist, Sean Harris, doesn't have as strong a voice as the songs ask for...but hey, at least he's smart enough not to screech and hurt my ears.

Diamond Head signed a major label deal on the strength of this debut and went on to release other albums, but Behold the Beginning is arguably their best work. The strongest compositions are the four tracks which Metallica has covered and, although there isn't a genuine clinker among the rest, tracks five to eight are best described as serviceable but not exceptionally distinguished. The added track, "Waited too Long," is more of a rock 'n' roll tune-—not exactly metal but not quite a ballad, either—-and is distinctive, but if this was the direction which Diamond Head took on their subsequent releases...well, this is definitely their best album. "Sucking My Love" deserves special attention for its mondo-extendo length and memorable riff. (Damn, now it's stuck in my head...) Incidentally, the Other Band mentioned in this review used "Sucking My Love" as part of their set list when they were still playing in bars.

Generally speaking, if you liked Metallica's versions of "Am I Evil?", "It's Electric," "The Prince," and "Helpless," you'll like Diamond Head. Behold The Beginning is not a vital part of your collection if you already own Garage, Inc., 'cuz you have four of the five best songs, but it's a significant marker in the NWOBHM scene and is at least worthy of serious consideration.

Review by Jonathan Arnett

Review date: 02/2000

Back to top