Diamond Head - Lightning To The Nations

Diamond Head - Lightning To The Nations

Diamond Head - Lightning To The Nations

(1980, Happy Face Records)

What are the odds of having a completely unknown band releasing a private LP after a couple of demo and 7” single efforts and eventually not only becoming known as one of the most inspiring bands of a whole movement but also among the godfathers of a whole knew Metal genre? Well, we have the following words here to place in order:

- “Lightning To The Nations”
- New Wave Of British Heavy Metal
- Early US Thrash

and here’s the history pieces completing the picture, huh.

We won’t deal with a bio in this presentation – you can read all you need here. Many say that DIAMOND HEAD were destined to conquer the world as the next closest LED ZEPPELIN thing – or so the MCA label believed when they inked deal with the band in ’81/’82 – but lots of fans back then were much more confident for something more: the band led by the charismatic duo of Sean Harris (vocals) and Brian Tatler (guitars) had something unique to offer to the up-and-rising Metal circuit boiling all around England at the late 70s. From the very first singles the band put out as a four piece it was evident this was not another NWOBHM rookie. And “Lightning To The Nations” came to full the portrait. You could have a straightforward dynamite here, with Tatler’s guitar blazing raw fire and next on the cue was an ultra-melodic piece with enough of reference to the glorious 70s of course, but also such a personal astral or oriental touch it was too difficult to describe in plain words.

And to all this we should add Harris’ trademark voice. A man with a lyrical throat, a timbre not far from crying or making an instant poem at the same time, Harris was more than just a singer in DIAMOND HEAD. Yes, he had lots of influence from Robert Plant but I think he also had his ears open to folk, prog Rock and even 70s Psych music. He could scream and there was no tension, just beautiful soaring melodic lines spewing out of his heart. In “Lightning To The Nations” its – for me – Harris who makes the difference in the photo finish: listen to his work in “Am I Evil” or the same titled track and feel the darkened smoothness around you. Spooky, huh?

Going back to the music, this is the first full album for the band and definitely the rawest. The guitars are sharp as British steel and their sound is…is…is…I cannot find the proper words. Raping, maybe? Tatler had lots of aces under his sleeve and the album became an orgy of riffs, refrains and bridges, with some more quiet moments revealing the ‘other’ side of the band, later in years to be unveiled in full mode. It’s no wonder nearly all of the album’s tracks were covered or ripped off by METALLICA (and MEGADETH and TESTAMENT and…and…and…) in their prime days while it’s no miracle the whole Bay Area circuit flirted with this twisted melody in vocals at the same time that e.g. the Germans were more keen on what MOTÖRHEAD, RAVEN or VENOM had to say.

Calling DIAMOND HEAD a band that suffered from bad luck would not be a crime but not the straight truth too, in my humble opinion. By re-releasing their debut for a bigger market and having a contract with MCA for the whole world to follow, the probably missed something with the “Caterbury” chapter they paved on afterwards (I like this album, though). Also, the come-and-go’s in a Rock band always chop the consistency and the band from the West Midlands was a winner here. They also called it quits and reformed some 3-4 times in the years to follow, with Harris staying out of the most recent DH lineup. Still, 1980 and “Lightning To The Nations” was the year and album that signaled a new beginning, a fresh start for new things to happen in Britain and (mostly) the West Coast of the USA. And, my friends, that’s not a small thing at all…


01. Lightning To The Nations
02. The Prince
03. Sucking My Love
04. Am I Evil
05. Sweet And Innocent
06. It’s Electric
07. Helpless


Sean Harris - Vocals
Brian Tatler - Guitars
Colin Kimberley - Bass
Duncan Scott - Drums