1980, Music

Lightning to the Nations [The White Album] (1980) by Diamond Head

There are a couple NWOBHM bands that sound a little closer to the thrash metal they would inspire and, from their debut album, Diamond Head appears to be one of them. Nowhere near as dirty and punk as Motorhead, they’re still (at times) grittier and heavier than some of their contemporaries.

Much of the music here is pretty typical NWOBHM; a song like “The Prince” could easily fit on one of the major records by one of the more famous NWOBHM bands. But the songs do feel a little less obviously about pure power than those of their contemporaries. “Am I Evil?”, the song made famous by Metallica, is the obvious candidate for a song that feels maybe a little ahead of its time.

But a lot of this vibe just comes from the band – Sean Harris is a less powerful singer than his more famous contemporaries, which some feel as a criticism. But looking at this record through the lens of history, it’s easy to see why the thrash bands liked him more, even though most of them couldn’t sing as well as him. And the rest of the band feels a little less polished, too. Though Tatler shows off on the ridiculous “Sucking My Love”, he’s definitely not all about the bright melodic leads like many of his contemporaries were. That preference for more traditional riffing feels like an important step towards what would come next.

Of course they’re nowhere near as important as Motorhead in terms of the influence on the Thrash bands, but I do hear a clearer line from a NWOBHM band like this than I do with, say, Judas Priest or even Maiden at their grandest.

Like a lot of NWOBHM records, the sound of the record is actually pretty good all these years later. I don’t know why, exactly, but this seems to be the rare metal subgenre where good production is pretty much standard. It’s easy to imagine this record coming out more recently, at least from the sound quality. (I can hear the bass!Imagine!) And this is from an independent label…

Honestly, I think this is one of the more underrated and under-known NWOBHM records. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of the genre or are just interested in the history of metal.


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