Diamond Head is a name known to most heavy metal fans as a major influence in the creation and evolution of Metallica. But aside from the few tracks that Metallica has covered and made famous, Diamond Head’s music and catalog isn’t as stellar and noteworthy as their NWOBHM counterparts. Throughout their 40 year career, Diamond Head have experienced numerous lineup changes and shifts in their direction. With only guitarist Brian Tatler as the sole original member, Diamond Head have reemerged with a new album and sound that incorporates a modern rock sound along with its heavy metal roots.
Initially, I expected to hear a collection of songs that rehashed old riffs and melodies from the band’s glory days. Suffice to say, I was unexpectedly surprised when I heard a record that sounded fresh and modern. The opening track, “Belly of the Beast” roars with a fast thrash metal riff reminiscent of Testament or Exodus, with the following track “The Messenger” unleashing a thrash based groove that would make Pantera proud.
Surprisingly, the album shifts its focus from the fast thrash metal inspired sound to a mid-tempo, groove-oriented approach that recalls Soundgarden’s glory days. In fact, vocalist Rasmus Bom Anderson’s voice bears such a striking similarity to Chris Cornell that I could hardly tell the two apart. Just listen to “The Coffin Train” and “Shades of Black” and judge for yourself how similar Anderson’s voice is to Cornell’s.
This modern sound can also be attributed to the newest band members; Karl Wilcox, Andy Abberley, and Dean Ashton. In fact, along with Anderson, each of these members have been active with Diamond Head primarily in the 21st century. Original guitarist Brian Tatler adds a bit of classic metal flair with his guitar solos, but really this is a completely different band from the initial incarnation of Diamond Head.
The Coffin Train is a solid offering from a band with a classic name. However, with a stable of new musicians who have updated the band’s sound, it would be best to shake off the Diamond Head name and head forward with a new identity that’s befitting of this group’s efforts. I’m more interested in hearing what these musicians are going to do in the future, as opposed to hearing them cover “Am I Evil” to appease fans of their namesake.
Verdict – B+