Abaddon magazine

Music magazine

Monday, October 18, 2021

Review: Diamond Head – Lightning to the Nations 2020

Label: Silver Lining Music

Date: November 27th, 2020

Let’s get one thing straight. I have nothing against classics being recorded again. If anything, I find it an ever better solution than simple re-mastering. Especially if you wish to see what your early works might have looked like if you were to record them with state of the art technology. There’s been more than enough such endeavors which proved that these records sound even better with modern day production. Also, the experience musicians have gathered through the years can be of a lot of help in these situations.

Unfortunately, there have been a whole lot of releases that were just an insult to the original. Mostly because they were just shameless attempts of gaining some easy money from the unsuspecting fans. Due to creative exhaustion, of course.

The others are just no good and serve no purpose. You can easily guess the reason why. Simply put, age difference. When these bands were young and uninhibited, they had a whole lot of energy to expulse and did so. Midlife is definitely not a time to be angry and turbo charged. Which brings me to “Lightning to the Nations” anno domini 2020.

The record is a classic. Epitome of early NWOBHM. Forty years ago, along with “Iron Maiden”, “Angel Witch”, “British Steel” and “Wheels of Steel” this record was a dominant force in British metal. Yes, it was primal, raw and unrelenting. Not to mention it was almost a direct cause for the formation of one of the greatest metal bands in history. Metallica, of course. And a lot of others too, directly or indirectly. Today, I’m afraid to even think what would the history of metal sound like if Metallica was to be influenced by this version of “Lightning to the Nations”.

The fact that Brian Tatler is the sole remaining member of Diamond Head in 1980 that remained to participate in this recording, might not have been as defining as it actually is. The younger members can add the necessary drive to the album. However, Rasmus Bom Andersen is no Sean Harris. Not by a long shot. Though a fine vocalist and he does try on occasion, his voice colour is by no means appropriate for this album. He is more befitting to some hard rocking pub band. This way, a lot was taken from the record, even if the background might seem improved in comparison to the original. The only exceptions might be the covers. But I’ll get to that.

Speaking of the background, it is improved. Production is clean as a whistle and pumped up nicely. Musicianship is on a high level. These riffs are legendary. The tracks are mostly tried and tested hits. No serious fault can be found, really.

Yet, somehow, I’m not feeling it. Can’t quite describe it, but the album does nothing to me and, apart of singing along to the well-known tunes, I have no connection to the sound coming out of my speakers. Whether I’m just too used to the original version, or there is something else, I cannot tell. You will just have to make up your own mind.

Now, coming to the album extras… Covers… Judas Priest, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. Quite a fitting tribute to the home scene. Well performed classics. But there is one more and this is just way too… Call it what you will, but covering Metallica’s “No Remorse” must be among the weirdest things I have heard in my lifetime. I guess Lars, James and Kirk are absolutely honoured. Dave Mustaine too. But come on! Covering a band you influenced in their very beginning!? I mean, it has happened before to Metallica with Motorhead covering “Enter Sandman”. And just as you could almost see Lemmy being fairly uncomfortable there, I can only assume what Brian Tatler felt while recording a song that was released three years after his masterpiece. I get that Metallica had an enormous input in making Diamond Head’s reputation grow, especially with younger generations, but this is just way too ironic to me.

Be that as it may, I’m keeping to the original “Lightning to the Nations”. Timeless classic, no doubt. As for this new rendition, I’ll take it as a reminder to go spin the album from 1980 once again. By the way, I’m almost glad that I missed the latest Diamond Head records.