Diamond Head – Lightning To The Nations

August 1, 2012 in Kylie's Classic Corner, Reviews by Kylie

Diamond Head
Lightning To The Nations
1980

Ahh yes, one of the most influential albums of the NWOBHM era, and yet, it has been relegated to being almost an afterthought. Diamond Head never really achieved the success that you’d think a band that had five of its original seven tracks covered by Metallica, four of which on a major compilation of their covers (“Sucking My Love” was performed in the very early days of the band). Sure, their first “proper” album, 1982’s Borrowed Time, was a minor hit in their native England (no. 24), but their self-released demo contains their most cohesive works, and most of their best songs.

The album takes its title from the first track (it doesn’t actually have an official title), which is a total riff monster accented by Sean Harris’s Robert-Plant-meets-Ronnie-James-Dio vocals. He has that a smooth soaring voice that can get down and dirty, and he is one of very few vocalists that can compete with the totally badass riffage of Brian Tatler.

 “The Prince” and “Am I Evil?” may very well be the two best NWOBHM tracks ever. The latter has some of the most well-knows riffs of all time and a lethal Ritchie Blackmore-worshipping solo to boot. The former boasts a killer set of riffs, blistering solos, and a harmony section that would make an Iron Maiden freak squeal with delight (and even a disco bridge that manages to be badass!).

Sucking My Love” definitely doesn’t suck. It has more greats riffs and the greatest fake orgasm ever, surpassing Meg Ryan’s in “When Harry Met Sally.” It’s a bit drawn out (only 5 riffs over 9½ minutes). “Sweet And Innocent” is the only song that doesn’t really kick ass (it was written to be a single), and just seems out of place (although the b-side “Streets Of Gold” is a great rocker).

It’s Electric” and “Helpless” close out the album in style. “Helpless” is one of the better early power metal songs, bridging the gap between Led Zeppelin and Iron Maiden with a great bluesy riff cranked up to eleven, a powerful proto-thrash bridge, and more awesome wails from Sean. “It’s Electric” is similar to “Lightning To The Nations” as a simple, riff-based rocker that is still all kinds of awesome.

I can’t even begin to express how awesome this album is, as it’s not only historically relevant, but also a heaping slab of riff-filled madness and killer vocals. Yes folks, this is the NWOBHM for 1980, better than even Iron Maiden’s and Angel Witch’s eponymous debuts from the same year in terms of quality.

 Kylie’s rating: 4.75 out of 5.