Diamond Head (1976-1985, 1990-1994, 2000-present): a NWOBHM band from Stourbridge, Midlands, UK.
he concept of Diamond Head originated with schoolmates Duncan Scott (drums) and Brian Tatler (guitar) in 1976, who soon recruited recruited Sean Harris (vocals/guitar) and Colin Kimberley (bass). In their early days, the band played very few cover songs and concentrated on their own material.
After releasing a set of self-financed demos in 1979 and an obscure German-only album release on the 'Woolfe' label, along with the mail order only LP Lightning To The Nations (1980) on the 'Happy Face' label, Diamond Head's unique sound and quality of writing gained enough attention for the band to tour as support to AC/DC and Iron Maiden. Although several record companies expressed interests in signing the band, no contracts were forthcoming. For the record's part, it had no fancy cover sleeve, it was a tight budget production. 1000 copies were pressed and made available at concerts or via mail-order for £3.50. The only mail-order advertizement appeared in Sounds and ran for six weeks; the band's management did not pay for the advertizement and ended up being sued. As for the master tapes: They were lost by 'Woolfe' and were discovered years later when Metallica's Lars Ulrich and 'Phonogram' Germany for inclusion on the 1990 compilation album New Wave Of British Heavy Metal '79 Revisited.
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Although no major interest, Diamond Head did manage to get their first release, the 1979 single Shoot Out The Lights (b/w Helpless); their second single Sweet and Innocent (b/w Streets of Gold) released by 'Media Records' in 1980.
The buzz surrounding the band's live shows eventually led to a record deal with 'MCA' 1982, resulting in a rush to release the Four Cuts EP before their album debut proper Borrowed Time (1982), featuring a lavish Rodney Matthews-illustrated gatefold sleeve based on the album's Elric theme and was the most expensive sleeve commissioned by MCA at the time. The aftermath of the album saw it chart at UK 24 and subsequently become a genre classic. Sounds Magazine declared them the new Led Zeppelin and Diamond Head quickly found themselves in the UK top 30 becoming one of the most influential acts of the early NWOBHM sound.
Trouble came quickly for the act for after their 32 UK charting Canterbury (1983), the group suffered their first membership issues during the recording with Kimberley and Scott having to be replaced by Merv Goldsworthy and Robbie France respectively. The album boasted a more experimental sound as well as a stifled success as the first 20,000 copies suffered vinyl pressing problems, causing the LP to jump.But despite the album's charting many fans disliked the progressive direction, expecting a reprise of Borrowed Time. It was enough for 'MCA' who promptly dumped them; 'FM Revolver' took up the slack, but not for long. David Williamson replaced Goldsworthy shortly later but it wasn't enough and Diamond Head split with the Am I Evil compilation following in 1987 posthumously; the members going on to other respective projects. The change in the band's musical direction was because they become bored of just playing heavy metal and felt that it was time to change. Another change the band made at the time was Brian switching from his Flying V to a Gibson Les Paul. Harris' lyrics had taken a religious route. After little interest from any record label to pick up the project the band fell apart.
Cited as a guiding inspiration to the NWOBHM movement by acts like Metallica (who re-recorded a cover version of Am I Evil (a track originally heard on Diamond Head's Borrowed Time album)), and at a time when the NWOBHM rediscovery was afoot making their back catalog album begin to sell again, they were encouraged to regroup in 1991 under the line-up Tatler, Harris, Eddie Moohan (bass) and Carl Wilcox (drums) with the mini-LP Rising Up (1992) emerging a few months later. Death & Progress, their first album in 9 years, arriving on the scene in 1993; the live set Evil Live coming the next year. To Heaven From Hell (1995) was a live EP effort that was followed by The Best Of "best of..." compilation in 1999.
During this time, Harris also wrote the lyrics to a song with Dave Mustaine for Megadeth called Crown Of Worms and both released as a B-side to Megadeth's 1994 single Train of Consequences and on the re-mastered version of Countdown to Extinction.
By the time 1994 came about Diamond Head had split again. Another live effort, recorded at the Zoom club Live In The Heat Of The Night, followed in 2000 with two "best of..." compilations following in 2000 and 2004 respectively as Diamond Nights and Am I Evil? - The Anthology (2-CD).
In 2000 Harris and Tatler reformed with guitarist Floyd Brennan and performed a series of UK acoustic gigs, which ended in the release of the First Cuts Acoustic EP.
In 2003 the band and Harris went their separate ways. The rest of the band announced his replacement as Nick Tart.
Diamond Head's next album, All Will Be Revealed (the title apparently referring to Sean Harris), was released in 2005 with a very different sound their early material.
Diamond Head headlined a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the NWOBHM at the London Astoria, supported by Witchfynde, Bronz, Praying Mantis and Jaguar. The concert was later released as the live CD, It's Electric and also the band's first DVD, To the Devil His Due (2006)guitarist Adrian Mills then left the band to be replaced with Andy 'Abbz' Abberley,
What's in Your Head? (2007) followed on 'Cargo records'.
Due to the death of his father, Tart withdrew from the October 2013 US tour, vocalist Chas West stepped in. Tart would end off leaving the band permanently within a year, Danish born Rasmus Bom Andersen, from London would replace him. Their self-titled album would be released in 2016, along with The Coffin Train (2019).
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Diamond Head live in 2014.
Photo by: Frank Schwichtenberg
(CC BY-SA 3.0)
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