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Diamond Head

Diamond Head's history is certainly among the most peculiar in all of rock. One of the most remarkable talents to arise out of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, the band's career never fulfilled its early promise, yet their legacy still ranks among the most influential of the genre. Sounds metal editor Geoff Barton (the man who coined the phrase N.W.O.B.H.M. in the first place) once remarked that "there are more good riffs in your average single Diamond Head song than there are in the first four Black Sabbath albums"; and Iron Maiden leader Steve Harris weighed in that Diamond Head "looked like they were going to be the next Led Zeppelin for a while." Such lavish praise had been sparked by the band's unassuming, independently recorded first album, which by all rights should have been just the first step on the road to a legendary career. But this was not to be...here's the story why.

Diamond Head formed in Stourbridge, England, in 1976 by schoolmates Brian Tatler (guitar) and Duncan Scott (drums). They soon recruited Sean Harris (vocals) and a few months later, Colin Kimberley (bass) joined their ranks. Barely out of school and vehemently opposed to joining the cover band pub circuit, the fledgling young band also had the heyday of punk rock to contend with and were forced to develop their sound in relative seclusion through endless rehearsal and songwriting sessions. Still unable to attract any record company attention three years later, despite occasional gigs in and around the English Midlands, the group decided to take matters into their own hands, issuing a couple of self-financed singles, "Shoot out the Lights" and "Sweet and Innocent." These were soon followed by a self-produced full-length album, which they recorded between February and April 1980 and made available via mail order through their own Happy Face Records. By naïve inexperience or artful design, the LP was packaged in a conspicuously anonymous white sleeve, lacking so much as song titles, and sent to members of the British music press. As it turned out, a copy of the nameless LP (later commonly referred to as the "White Album" or "Lightning to the Nations", after its first song) soon found its way into the hands of Sounds metal editor Barton, who was so floored by its contents he quickly proceeded to interview the band for the respected music weekly. Soon being heralded by most everyone in-the-know as an undeniable masterpiece, the album quickly passed into legend as one of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal's most seminal documents. Indeed, between Tatler's towering power chords and Harris' delicate yet muscular voice, Diamond Head had stumbled upon the perfect synthesis of un-godly, Sabbath-sized riffing and Zeppelin's epic musicality.

If only the rest of the story was as remarkable. Encouraged by such a euphoric response, Diamond Head quickly signed with MCA, issued the Four Cuts EP, then set out on a relentless touring schedule that included a legendary appearance at the 1982 Reading Festival. But the dream began to shatter as soon as they entered the studio to begin recording a follow-up album. MCA's and producer Mike Hedges' excessive tampering and the band's inability to just say "no" transformed Borrowed Time into a disappointing, vague reminder of their glorious first album (the fact that Sean Harris' mum acted as their manager didn't help matters any). For their part, as brilliant as they were at composing complex heavy metal anthems, Tatler and Harris proved incapable (or subconsciously unwilling) to pen radio-friendly singles. Re-recorded versions of first album standouts "Am I Evil?" and "Lightning to the Nations" also paled in comparison to the genuine article, and though it entered the British charts at a very respectable number 24, Borrowed Time quickly fulfilled the prophecy in its title and tumbled from sight. As initial expectations gave way to disappointment and pressure began to mount, the band started work on their third album. But they would splinter in half during the sessions for 1983's erratic Canterbury, with the rhythm section of Kimberley and Scott both fired and/or quitting. Another commercial failure, the LP's chances were further curtailed by a pressing error that resulted in 20,000 faulty copies. A slot in that year's massive Castle Donington Monsters of Rock Festival couldn't staunch the bleeding, and a frazzled Tatler (by now standing on the brink of a nervous breakdown) finally pulled the plug. Diamond Head effectively ceased to exist.

Here's where things get interesting, however, for among the band's early worshipers was a young Danish drummer named Lars Ulrich, who had been so deeply affected by Diamond Head's early material that he proceeded to pattern his own brand new group (future metal gods Metallica) on their idiosyncratic style. Not only did Metallica base the bulk of their early live set on Diamond Head's songs, they also covered the first album's "Am I Evil?" for the B-side to their "Creeping Death" single in 1984, and later repeated the gesture with "Helpless" in 1987. This unexpected exposure began to slowly resurrect Diamond Head's music among fans, and when Tatler and Ulrich finished compiling a greatest-hits disc, released later that year as Behold the Beginning, unsuspecting American audiences were also, finally given their first glimpse of Diamond Head. But, Tatler remained wary of attempting a complete comeback and it wasn't until 1993 that he again teamed up with Harris, bassist Pete Vuckovic, and drummer Karl Wilcox for a set of club dates under the name Dead Reckoning. The full-fledged reunion was made official by a new album, entitled Death & Progress (featuring guest performances and songwriting contributions from Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi and Megadeth's Dave Mustaine), which nevertheless failed to ignite serious interest in the band. Following a number of high-profile concert appearances in the U.K. that summer, Diamond Head once again disbanded, but not before releasing the Evil Live album, recorded at their Milton Keyes performance where they supported Metallica, ironically enough.

A slew of unsatisfactory greatest-hits sets has been released in the years since, but it wasn't until 2001 that fans were finally treated to a fully restored re-issue of Diamond Head's legendary debut by Sanctuary/Castle. Their desire to promote the long-lost classic led to another reunion, which included Diamond Head's first-ever performance on U.S. soil at the New Jersey Metal Fest on April 5, 2002. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

underappreci a t e d
sucking my love
helpless
Lightning to the nations is cool
Where's the original Am I evil ? Cd ?
It's Electric
damnation street
Play it loud ImI
I really like diamond head I didn't really think I would like them first but when I heard them it was like god has spoken to me and when metallica does am I evil and its electric its like Metallica's version isn't really that good and when I first listened to diamond head I didn't expect what I was. Going to hear because I thought diamond head was another speed metal band because I always though for the longest time that metallica always did am I evil but then I watched the big four and they sai
better than tallica
The best of NWOBHM
A frontrunner from the NWOBHM.
Holy crap!!! How have I missed out on these guys? I feel like such a poser as a metal fan not knowing their work, I suppose being over 50 years old is almost an excuse, but damn, I wish I had heard them before.

I had heard of them, but never heard any of their music, but now that has changed and I am an instant fan, these guys kick some serious a**!!
heather.mcle m o r e
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you've started reading so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes when done press f6 and your lover's name will appear on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it actually works!
A masterpiece diamondhead very underrated band
I saw these guys in Arizona on their first US tour last year. I've seen a good number of metal bands, including the Big Four, Rammstein, and Rob Zombie, and I hold Diamond Head's performance as the best one I've ever seen. All four of them looked like they were enjoying the hell out of playing, and they all sounded fantastic. It was impossible not to share their enthusiasm. By far the best concert I've ever been to.
san francisco ? i missed it and i live there,well 12 miles away.i understand about not hating metallica-bu t they live here too and they're such jerks.you can love the music but you don't have to love them. i think you can hate any band on any thread,if you want to. this isn't cuba.even to i should live there because of the cool cars and no i-pads,at least i hope not.but if you do hate,it ain't that good for your spirit. i love dio,witchfin d e r general,bob dylan and of course King-yea,i feel bette
i don't need to read the fuckking bio to know that this came out around mercyful fate or judas priest.i've always loved them and now love them more than ever.
Only True Metal Fan's realize the relevance of this Legendary band and their Music.. Just sawa them in Sanfrancisco . . Not the same without Colin Duncan and Sean... My Brother was the lighting tech for the British tour way back when Lars first met them... Hating on Metallica is born out of a Sean Harris myth.... DONT DO IT....... Brian Tatler LOVES them ......And after all Brian Tatler IS Diamond Head.....
steelerfnati c 1 9 7 1
lol why hate on Metallica in this thread? James rains praise down on these guys. It's no secret that they are a lot of the foundation Metallica's stuff is built on.
socal_m05
Sucking My Love is epic! The music is among the best I've ever heard, too bad the subject of the song is so tongue-in-ch e e k .
Where the hell is Lightning to the Nations?
kisses !!!!!!!!!!!! ! ! !
Diamondhead is music ive been waiting my whole life to hear. Borrowed time' IS a masterpiece.
I always found these guys to be boring, but then again Metallica is boring as well. Oh well just my opinion.
shore62
These guys rocked. Borrowed time was a metal masterpiece. Too bad circumstance s didn't allow them to last.
this is the truth , i love metal . without bands like these guys there would not be metal bands like samson ,witch finder general . metalllllick e r , raven,six feet under, should i go on diamond head was the biggest contributer , along with black sab , motorhead
i blame bob rock!lol
Cool, maybe their singer can come sing for Metallica and then they won't suck anymore. Hetfield could be replaced by Randy the Macho Man Savage, and no one would know better. It's crazy how much music Metallica took from these guys, back when they still kicked a**. Who me bitter?

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