Sound — 6
As far as influential hard rock heavyweights are concerned, Diamond Head are among the most iconic groups from the late 1970s to have since developed a cult following, despite scarce activity over the years. Diamond Head are most readily recognized for their song "Am I Evil?", which in turn was made infamous through Metallica's rendition from the "Creeping Death" single B-side and following 1988 reissue of "Kill 'Em All." Despite this legendary status, Diamond Head never became a household name, largely due to an unqualified manager; wrong choice in a major record label; two hiatuses from 1985 to 1990 and 1994 to 2000; attempts to move into a mainstream sound (again, attributed by the label); and the consistent lineup alterations over the years which has left only lead guitarist Brian Tatler from the original band. After founding singer Sean Harris exited in 2004, Diamond Head pressed on with aspiring frontman Nick Tart and began to regain momentum until Tart's own departure in 2014, which left Diamond Head without a lead singer. Fast forward to present day, where the members of Diamond Head (featuring Tatler, bassist Eddie Moohan, drummer Karl Wilcox, rhythm guitarist Andy "Abbz" Abberley and new frontman Rasmus Bom Andersen) are back with their first new record since the underappreciated 2007 album with Tart still at the helm, "What's in Your Head?," and it suggests that this iconic group are prepared for a rebirth.
Four decades after their initial formation, "Diamond Head" serves as the band's self-titled release and solidifies the current lineup through eleven hard hitting compositions centered around vintage riffs, melodic hooks you can sink your teeth into, and an overall concrete hard rock edge which the band doesn't tend to deviate from, making for a choice front-to-back listen. Where 1983's "Canterbury" was the chaotic mess based upon elements of progressive rock, art rock and metal which made for an uneventful listen, "Diamond Head" is a formidable presentation of nostalgia-laced heavy rock that takes momentum right out of the gate through such selections as "Bones" and "Shout at the Devil," the latter of which will certainly inspire some to listen in case Diamond Head went ahead and covered one of Mötley Crüe's live staples. Those listeners aiming for a Crüe cover would end up disappointed, whereas familiar Diamond Head fans will find themselves lost among the warm distortion tones and moderately operatic vocals of Andersen which highlight this pair of riff rockers. Uncoincidentally, "Shout at the Devil" is centered around an aggressive galloping pace and even boasts a more formidable riff than the preceding track, which sets gloomy moods for the blues rock cut "Set My Soul on Fire" and the speeding thrills of "See Your Rise."
The bass heavy production throughout tends to bury the low riffs found on songs such as "Blood on My Hands" and the previously noted "See Your Rise"; it would seem as though the band was intentionally trying to craft an album that sounds like some of the iconic records cut in the 1970s rock scene where Diamond Head first found their way into the fold, which although interesting leaves some to be desired when the sometimes-less-than-engaging vocals of Abberley is further buried beneath the rhythm section, where the mix also leaves large portions of the guitar stylings as well. That being said, songs like the prog-ish "All the Reasons You Live," the motivating "Our Time Is Now" and the adrenalized "Diamonds" (which is arguably the most bold and distinctively Diamond Head-sounding track on the album) allow this rebirth to hold water and offer that edge of vintage British heavy metal that attentive advocates have been anticipating from this reincarnated unit for some time.
Lyrics — 7
As far as replacement vocalists are concerned, Rasmus Bom Andersen does a fair job at fitting within the Diamond Head sound over the length of this eponymous installment. Depending on where you set the needle on the record, Andersen either seems to lack some degree of confidence to really step up to the main microphone ("Set My Soul on Fire") or entirely takes command ("Our Time Is Now," "Diamonds"). Perhaps that's because, much like the album's production, his approach is seemingly tailored to what Sean Harris lay out on the celebrated "Lightning to the Nations" debut from Diamond Head. Regardless, there are more moments than not where Andersen is authoritative and lays down a commanding vocal track which compliments the remaining composition, which unsurprisingly makes for the most memorable tracks throughout "Diamond Head."
Overall Impression — 7
While too much emphasis may have been directed towards creating an album which sounds like their vintage heavy metal releases, Diamond Head find themselves in the midst of a return-to-form with their self-titled studio album. The introduction of Rasmus Bom Andersen serves as a vital part of this same vindication, as the band is able to lay out a selection of songs that leave quite the impression on familiar listeners. Even though the production could (and frankly should) have been enhanced prior to release, the end result shows a reinvigorated Diamond Head performing on most of their oxidized cylinders.