Diamond Head was formed in 1976 when Sean Harris was asked by his schoolmate Brian Tatler to join a band. Brian and Duncan had earlier founded a band and Brian was interested in Sean after hearing the latter perform Be Bop A Lula at a school party. Diamond Head was formed with Sean on vocals, Brian (who had earlier wanted to become a keyboardist) on guitar and Duncan on drums. The band members were all around fifteen years old at this point.
Next into the fold is Colin Kimberley on bass. This line-up began working intensely and recruited another schoolmate Tom as manager. Reg Fellows – who owned a cardboard factory - and Sean Harris’ mother, Linda Harris, later managed the group. The band was performing originals and the occasional cover of Black Sabbath's Paranoid at this time. The first recording occurred in 1978 when the band immortalized a demo tape at a recording studio on the second floor of a music shop.
The band soon got the attention of Geoff Barton at Sounds Magazine who would lend a hand in promoting the band early on. Barton would both list Diamond Head's demo in the magazine and interview the youngsters. The band's first major live break came as support to AC/DC at Mayfair in Southampton.
The band released two independent 7"s on its own Happy Face Records in 1980. The band's first ever EP featured the songs Shoot Out The Lights and Helpless. The band's logo at this point was the letters 'DH' standing atop a diamond shape.
Appearing with an independent album called Lightning To The Nations in 1980, Stourbridge's Diamond Head took its cues from Led Zeppelin. In fact, when asked by DJ Tommy Vance, Colin cited his favourite band as Rush, while Sean mentioned Led Zeppelin. Grabbing the attention of MCA after licensing the album to an obscure German label, Borrowed Time managed to, in turn, grab the attention of many metal fans through its fantastic cover artwork, simple and catchy songs and soulful playing. The band and label had issued the Four Cuts EP prior to the album. The band was adamant that three of the songs on the EP were not good enough for the upcoming Borrowed Time. Sean Harris, in particular, did not look at the song Dead Reckoning, fondly. The quartet was working hard for success at this point and had played 200 shows between 1980 and 1982 in the UK. MCA paid for several promotional videos shot during the same session of the band on stage. Borrowed Time hit the UK charts at position number 24.
Canterbury's recording saw the first shift within the band with the rhythm section departing. Members came and members went and, despite good songs, following a series of misshapen gigs MCA dropped the band. The band members scattered to different projects in 1985 with Notorious having the biggest hype until the band's major label dropped them too just after the debut's release!
The band was made better known through Metallica's affection and cover of Am I Evil. Following a series of gigs and projects, the band recorded Death And Progress for Bronze and toured in the UK. D&P was an overtly commercial album. The group split and reappeared and even performed a few gigs using the Dead Reckoning monicker. A disappointing major concert as the openers for Metallica at the Milton Keynes festival also followed. This gig was billed as the band's last. When the band (again) fell apart in 1994, the members went on to other projects (including a Thin Lizzy cover band) while the compilations, re-releases and sub par oddity albums followed.
The band reappeared again 2001. This incarnation featured a new rhythm section. A show in America and a series of club gigs in the UK followed. Although a previously announced band featuring Dave Mustaine was seemingly shelved. A brand new album would also be announced for 2004. Instead, the band unceremoniously dumped long-time singer Sean Harris in mid-2004. The replacement was called Nick Tart.
The band was announced as the support act for Megadeth on its February and March, 2005 European tour. The band's 2005 album, All Will Be Revealed, was out then as well. The band soon signed a UK distribution deal with Cargo Records for the release of the All Will Be Revealed album. Diamond Head’s It’s Electric live album was out in July through Secret Records. The band was also issuing a DVD called To The Devil His Due. Metal Mind Productions released two vintage albums, Borrowed Time and Canterbury in late 2007. Following its UK tour in support of Thin Lizzy the band was scheduled to play its first Japanese show on February 17th of 2008 in Tokyo. Universal Records UK would release a triple-CD of the band in March, 2009. The package contained remastered versions of Borrowed Time, Canterbury and Live At The Reading Festival. The release also included bonus material. Diamond Head would be the opening band for Europe in February of 2010 for nine shows in the United Kingdom. Guitarist Brian Tatler's had written an autobiography called Am I Evil? as of 2010. It featured forewords by Dave Mustaine of Megadeth and Lars Ulrich of Metallica. It was available through www.diamond-head.net. Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax closed the show on Friday, July 8th at Sonisphere Festival in the UK. Diamond Head had opened and participated in a jam session with American four. Kyoji Yamamoto was appearing in the U.S. for the first time since 1978 for a debut solo appearance in the USA on Saturday, September 24th of 2011. Kyoji would play two instrumental shows at Klub 45 in Manhattan. Playing with Kyoji would be Karl Wilcox, drummer for Diamond Head. The guitarist had an album called Voyager through City Boy Records. Diamond Head was forced to cancel its July 3rd, 2012 show at the O2 Academy in London, England after the band's drummer, Karl Wilcox, was admitted to hospital with a suspected blood clot. Diamond Head announced two tours of North America for 2013. The first would be in April with the band hitting East Coast and Midwest USA and Canada. The band would be back in October. The NWOBHM acts Diamond Head and Raven were playing Vancouver on the 8th of October.
Diamond Head singer Nick Tart’s father died. Tart missed the Canadian and US tour dates. Singer Chas West (Jason Bonham and Lynch Mob) joined the band for the dates. The band would release a new and self-titled album on March 11th 2016. It featured relatively new singer Rasmus Bom Andersen. The band was touring North America this autumn. Diamond Head signed a management deal with Thrashville Management run by Dave Mustaine and his son Justis Mustaine in 2017. Dave Mustaine had been a fan of Diamond Head for years and wrote the foreword to the Diamond Head biography. Diamond Head would issue a new album called The Coffin Train through Silver Lining Music on May 24th. Lightning To The Nations 2020 was a re-recording.
DIAMOND HEAD - BORROWED TIME - MCA
It has been a source of irritation for those of us who discovered Diamond Head before popetellica came along and made its sheepish fans aware of the English band to have people surmise that everyone came to know the quartet in the same way. Diamond Head is a great band which had a large enough following prior to Metallibore's scheme to make more money by playing other bands' music came around. In fact, if any band owes the other, it is rocketellica which needs to thank Diamond Head as the source of much of its inspiration, not to mention riffs.
This is not the way this review should have begun, but I had to get that off my chest. Diamond Head is often perceived as a Led Zeppelin-inspired band - and there is truth to that - except people fail to notice the equally great impact of Deep Purple on the founding quartet. In reality, there is much hard rock and blues that has gone under this bridge. Nevertheless, if one adjective were to be attributed to Diamond Head 'honesty' would be that pick. To listen to Diamond Head and Borrowed Time is to be exposed to a young band interpreting its influences the only way it can.
In The Heat Of The Night begins the album and sets a mood - which is always a substantial component of what Diamond Head did - with a typically simple yet soulful guitar rhythm accompanied by a chugging bass sound. Equally routine for these lads is the deceptively simple drum beat and the wailing, and almost pleading, vocals. A soaring original lead flies by while the rhythm keeps pumping along. The feeling is magical. Like almost every song on Borrowed Time, In The Heat... tells a story that rings true which takes one to song two To Heaven From Hell and its imagery. Here one finds a soothing song with equal parts gusto and romanticism. Here singer Sean Harris is aided by guitarist Tatler and bassist Colin Kimberley on backing vocals. Soon enough The song kicks into a harder torrent seemingly in tandem with the unfolding story.
Call Me is believable again because it has the power to seemingly carry one to the scene of the story. When Harris begs "So say you want me to stay/You are more than all to me" one can imagine himself standing the midst of the exchange. It is a testimony to the emotional transference power of Diamond Head. Call Me is the album's shortest song, one of the album's better tunes and simultaneously quite commercial in construct.
Lightning To The Nations is a beautiful title and is coincidentally the name of one of the many overlapping Diamond Head albums. Fans would recognize the song as some of the band's earliest material.
Borrowed Time is slow, steady and fortified with a rumbling bass before it bursts into a vocal explosion which comes across as belonging to one truly in pain. The simple skeleton of the song is nicely overlain with a sharp sense for dynamics The solo is less purposeful here, and the listener appreciates the moody winding down of the track which follows more as a result.
Don't You Ever Leave Me begins with a riff that is lead-heavy, but played softly which is again typically Diamond Head. The vocals are pleading and morose. The quartet's art is taking simple lyricism and making it as believable as any writer could. The song before last is arguably more introspective than any other song on the album. With eight minutes of playing time Don't You... could afford to be. At one point the band's roller coaster runs to a soundtrack which comes across as a mix between Led Zeppelin and Elvis!
In contrast to its equally-long predecessor Am I Evil? kicks in top-heavy. The riff is instantly recognizable, the lyrics spooky and awesome. They don't compose solos like this any longer either. It is a magical solo whose beauty lies as much in its simplistic atmosphere as its originality - and the latter is not a term with which the critics bother showering Diamond Head with too often. The song's power will not be denied and the way Diamond Head keeps it up for nigh on eight minutes is impressive in its own right.
This is a much more original band for which many have give them credit. The Diamond Head promise was never fulfilled, although this being the next century and the band's popularity being what it is those words should be banished as we speak.
I can recall a time when we had come across Diamond Head as a new band. Those were extraordinary times and we wondered at the music, raised our eyebrows interpreting the lyrics and admired the artwork. The magic, seemingly, is forever. - Ali "The Metallian"
DIAMOND HEAD - BORROWED TIME - METAL MIND/MVD
Having reviewed (Living On...) Borrowed Time several years ago there is not a need for either a revision or an overlapping addendum. Diamond Head’s first real album is a must for fans of hard rock, heavy metal, NWOBHM, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple or those who really really need to know from where a bunch of wimp-outs from California would draw inspiration. As one can imagine, Shoot Out The Lights is the father of Hit The Lights.
This limited edition of 2,000 courtesy of Metal Mind Productions (which has also reissued the follow-up Diamond Head album Canterbury) of Poland is a digipak distributed in the USA by MVD Entertainment Group. It is a gatefold release with much of the original artwork and a new biography. This new and updated version of the band’s history is, unfortunately, typical corporate make-believe. When the unaccredited text says singer Sean “Harris has left the band,” the astute reader knows he was kicked out under duress and so forth and so on. As mentioned, standard stuff except one wishes metal and hard rock were less mainstream in deed and habit. The artwork’s colour is slightly washed out compared to the original.
Where this version of the album distinguishes itself is - in addition to the gatefold format - the addition of three-quarters of the 1982 Four Cuts EP, which originally was issued in both 7” and 12” formats. With Call Me being cut presumably because it appears on the album proper the release features the songs Trick Or Treat, Dead Reckoning and Shoot Out The Lights. These songs are a tad more primitive and punky than the Borrowed Time material. Also tagged on is another release already present in the archives of Metallian Towers, the In The Heat Of The Night 7”. This one features the song In The Heat of The Night again as well as live version of Play It Loud and Sweet And Innocent. The latter song was from the band’s Lightning To The Nations LP and is a great cut bristling with power and enthusiasm. This album, as with the original 7”, end with an informative interview conducted by famous BBC radio DJ Tommy Vance back in 1982 just before the release of the Borrowed Time album. Imagine a public radio DJ nowadays interviewing an upcoming extreme band. Yes, the world has indeed dumbed down (keep voting conservative/right-wing, suicidal morons), but at least now one can get the music and hear the interview through this release. - Ali “The Metallian”