Monday, July 23, 2007

Diamond Head-Borrowed Time

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The New Wave of British Heavy Metal was highly influential on the metal scene. Yet over here in the states there were just a few bands that we knew from this scene or at least that was case while the scene was still going on in the early 1980's. Iron Maiden and Def Leppard would of course become huge and Saxon once flirted with breaking it big, but didn't. Even Raven and Venom got some notice and eventually got contracts on American labels. A lot of the other bands from the scene didn't get as much notice. However the impact of a cover song came into play when Metallica started doing covers in the late 1980's. A number of bands from different scenes got more looks because Metallica covered one or more of their songs. Among those bands were Budgie, Killing Joke, the Misfits and Diamond Head. I believe I heard Diamond Head's version of "Am I evil?" once and it was after I heard Metallica's cover. I think I remember being fairly and it is yet this album was way different than I thought it would be. I guess that due to the Metallica connection that I expected this album to be more a blueprint for Metallica's style. This album is really nothing like that in fact in some ways Diamond Head seem to draw on older metal influences more than many other NWOBHM bands. The opener "Heat of the night" is a medium slow affair with the vocals being almost more hard rock in style than metal. It's simple, but steady with a truly fluid solo. "To heaven from hell" has starts with a riff that reminds me of maybe early Saxon, but slowed down a little. The song has a strong and deliberate beat and again the solo is strong and after that the song picks up a bit. "Call Me" has the band controlling the pace yet it feels a little generic. Not bad altogether, but at least half of this track has me picturing some cheesy early 1980's movie that might have a band playing at some dive in the background of a scene and this would be the song they would be playing. "Lightning to the nations" tears on initially and then settles into a tight zone with some solid drums and fired-up vocals. Again the band's strength is controlling the pace and milking a lot out of everything they do. "Borrowed Time" begins the first of three straight tracks that are all over seven minutes a piece. The tone of the guitar somehow reminds me of early Def Leppard yet it's kind of blended with almost a 70's doom sludge sound not completely removed from Black Sabbath and Pentagram. The song works into way into some nice passages that manage to be steady yet hold my attention fairly well. "Don't you ever leave me" actually a sound fairly similar to the previous track, but a little more odd in it's pacing which I actually prefer. The vocals kind of play against the guitar at times and that makes for a nice change I think. Last up is "Am I evil?" and it of course has the long, but very direct introduction and then we getting tapping, harmonics and that nice, neat and tight little riff. The song does have a little bit of a 70's metal influence to me perhaps more in tone than in style. They manage control of this track and it's a good example of fairly solid songwriting and they really squeeze a lot of cool riffs just in the last two minutes alone. Overall I think this is a good album, but I don't see it as great. I may listen to it from time to time, but to me the first three tracks were not nearly as good as tracks four through seven. I like it, but in some ways can see why it didn't have the impact over here that some of the other bands of the scene did. I think it does require a bit more patience at time and it does blend hard rock with metal at times rather than being the straight metal that was on the rise. Still worth giving a listen to, but I wouldn't say it's essential.

***Remember this is Trans-Atlantic Metal Monday so slip over to Rock of ages and read what Bill had to say about this one.

****Also I will be gone for a few days, but have some great guest bloggers lined up so make sure you check them out.


Anonymous Rhodeislandrock said...

Diamond Head was touted as the "new Led Zeppelin" by the press back in the day but they just never got a break. Bad management actually. This is a solid record but the problem i have with it is that 3 songs were already previously available:

'Call Me' - Four Cuts E.P. (1982)
'Lightning To The Nations' & 'Am I Evil' - Lightning To The Nations (1980)

Try to find the High Vaultage release of Lightning To The Nations, not only is the album great but the bonus cuts are the Diamond Nights E.P.

10:53 PM  
Blogger captain corky said...

Have a good vacation man!

4:56 AM  
Blogger rock_of_ages said...

Mark - I thought you'd like it, but like we've both said it's not exactly a complete album with one or two lower grade songs. I guessed that you'd be interested in hearing one of Metallica's influences but like you I found it interesting that a band named a such an influence were in fact some distance from the Metallica sound. Proto-Metallica they most definately were not! Some good hard rock & metal on this album though and it's well worth a listen.

I'm trying to find some affordable copies of the stuff RhodeIsland recommended as well!!

I don't think the "new Led Zeppelin" tag did them any favours whatsoever in the long run. A band worth checking out though...

5:25 AM  
Blogger Luiz said...

This is not their best album. I suggest you try their debut, "Lightning to the Nations". That was the album that made them famous among the NWOBHM lovers. Later, when they signed to MCA, everybody predicted that their sound would become softer. And that was what happenned. (BTW, the NWOBHM fans of the day used to say that MCA stands for "Musical Cemetery of America" - easy to understand, if you listen to Diamond Head's and Tygers of Pan Tang's later albums).

6:31 AM  
Blogger The Mule said...

Not a bad album, but I was much happier when Metal Blade released 'Diamond Nights,' featuring their earlier stuff.

That's a kick-ass album cover, though.

8:21 PM  

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