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When it comes to NWOBHM, I have a preference for pioneering bands which failed to make the commerical impact that Def Leppard, Iron Maiden or Judas Priest did. I've never been able to put a finger on my particular favourite but for different reasons I'd have Raven, Blitzkrieg, Diamond Head and Sweet Savage at the top of my choice. Diamond Head unlike the others have less aggressive vocals which really can only be compared to Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin as they really are very similar.
The album Lightning to the Nations is their first and my definite favourite, released in 1980 by Old Smithy Recording in Worcester, the band don't particularly rush things, each song starts with a powerful guitar riff and whilst the vocals are often the focus of the tracks, there are some pleasantly long tracks "Am I Evil" and even somewhat psychedelic "Sucking My Love" where Sean Harris' patience pays off as it allows some superb instrumental sections. The band are excellent in fusing slightly satanic lyrics sung in a Led Zeppelin style with a Sabbath musical style plus a little bit of undescribeable magic that gives the band a unique sound even now, whilst it sounds dated, it also sounds legendary in the same way that The Doors, Jimi Hendrix and Elvis will most likely always be listened to, no matter what the year.
Guitar solos are sumptious, lyrics are powerful and it's no wonder Metallica drooled over their work and went on to record 3 covers of songs on this album, I'm of the opinion that the Diamond Head versions are better but try telling that to a young American metal growlster and he'll most likely dismiss you with a tirade of vulgarity! This album comes across as finished work in a year when contemporaries generally released albums with glimmers of raw talent.
I recommend getting the 2001 release, you get 8 bonus songs, all of which are just about as good as the original tracklist and were mostly released as B sides on singles.
Tracklist courtesy of Wikipedia:
All songs by Harris, Kimberly, Scott, Tatler
1. "Lightning to the Nations" - 4:15
2. "The Prince" - 6:27
3. "Sucking My Love" - 9:35
4. "Am I Evil?" - 7:39
5. "Sweet and Innocent" - 3:13
6. "It's Electric" - 3:37
7. "Helpless" - 6:51
[Bonus Tracks on 2001 re-release
1. "Shoot Out the Lights" - 4:17 - originally on Shoot Out the Lights single
2. "Streets of Gold" - 3:34 originally on Shoot Out the Lights single
3. "Waited Too Long" - 3:53 originally on Waited Too Long/Play it Loud single
4. "Play It Loud" - 3:31 originally on Waited Too Long/Play it Loud single
5. "Diamond Lights" - 3:31 originally on Diamond Lights single
6. "We Won't Be Back" - 4:18 originally on Diamond Lights single
7. "I Don't Got" - 4:20 originally on Diamond Lights single
8. "It's Electric" (Remix) 3:36 originally on Diamond Lights single
Diamond Head's modest, initially self-produced debut album is one of the definitive releases of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, so-called because it was new back in 1980. Alongside the likes of the self-titled debuts from Iron Maiden and Angel Witch, 'Lightning to the Nations' is a classic of early heavy metal and one that still holds up well today, despite sounding enjoyably dated.
Sean Harris' vocals are still rooted in the seventies and comparable to Robert Plant, but his strong performance allows several songs to be vocal-centric, such as the prominent verse rhythms of 'It's Electric' and 'Helpless.' Other songs favour Brian Tatler's excellent guitar work, particularly the enthusiastic soloing that opens 'The Prince' before that song develops into yet another memorable riff, and the seriously heavy and demonic 'Am I Evil?' that builds up with a homage to Gustav Holst's apocalyptic heavy metal masterpiece 'Mars, the Bringer of War.'
The only song to let the side down is the disappointingly commercial, bland pop-rock of 'Sweet and Innocent,' but even that's enjoyable as a guilty pleasure.
1. Lightning to the Nations
2. The Prince
3. Sucking My Love
4. Am I Evil?
5. Sweet and Innocent
6. It's Electric
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Lightning To The Nations
3 Sucking My Love
4 Am I Evil
5 Sweet And Innocent
6 It's Electric
8 Shoot Out The Lights
9 Streets Of Gold
10 Waited Too Long
11 Play It Loud
12 Diamond Lights
13 We Won't Be Back
14 I Don't Got