By now, most people are pretty familiar with Diamond Head’s biggest album, Lightning To The Nations, also known as The White Album. Whether you found them through all of the covers Metallica did (all of which appeared on this record), or you’re of the rare breed that knew them on their own, this proves to be quite a smash record. In 2016, they put out a double disc reissue of this album with different sound quality, and an entire disc of singles that weren’t released to an album. I figured this is worth revisiting and discussing.
For those who aren’t familiar with Lightning To The Nations (disc 1), to put it briefly, it’s basically a very raw heavy metal record that uses a lot of speed metal and teeters into the thrash zone a little bit. Songs like “Helpless” kick out the blitzing drum beats and deep, heavy riffs, while others like “It’s Electric” are little more on the classic side of things, somewhat reminiscent of Saxon. Of course, the legendary “Am I Evil?” takes all ideas presented here and mixes them all into one sequential slab of a song, utilizing a lot of suspense.
Despite all of the heaviness, the lead singer’s vocals are anything but threatening, and that’s what I absolutely love about it. Never has whiny singing ever worked so well on anything. On this reissue, everything is taken from the original vinyl recording from back in the very early ‘80s and produced from there. Other previous versions of this came from cassette versions, such as the one that came out a few years prior with everything on one disc, rather two. In all honesty though, unless if you’re a sound quality freak, you won’t notice much of a difference in production.
Disc two is what I mainly came here to talk about, because far fewer people are familiar with it. It’s essentially a compilation, but the songs were only released as singles. The musical makeup is far different as well. Gone are the thrashier vibes and in place are more rock ‘n roll oriented builds. “Waited Too Long” has a borderline power pop feel to it, as it’s all in major scales and doesn’t use much distortion. Plus, the melodies on this are super laid back and accessible as ever. “Play It Loud” takes a similar approach, but has a little more umph to it. The solo on this one is absolutely stellar and the tones reflect Aerosmith. Even “Diamond Light” has so much vocal harmony and softness to it that you wouldn’t even believe it’s by Diamond Head.
But it isn’t all just a rock ‘n roll festival, because you can still find your classic metal bangers such as “Shoot Out The Lights” or “Streets Of Gold” that amp up the riffwork a little more and have a shred of force. There’s just a different energy from the speedy aura of disc one. Personally, I’m really glad that these songs weren’t dropped back in the day as a full length, and were only singles, because I assure you that people would bitch about the fact that it’s “not metal enough” since they can’t let their “true” metal be ruined by calmer melodic rock. Smart move on the band’s part. Overall, we get a rehash of a classic heavy metal banger torn straight from the first recordings, and a shining pile of rock ‘n roll that not many have dipped into, yet should feast their ears.
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