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It's Prog Jim, But Not As We Know It: Diamond Head

Often derided as a huge error from one of the NWOBHM cult heroes, in fact this was the album that showed Diamond Head were a cut above their peers.

When the band first made their impact at the start of the 80s, they were hailed by some as the natural successors to Led Zeppelin. A bold, brave claim they somewhat justified on both the classic Lightning To The Nations and Living On… Borrowed Time albums. But with Canterbury, the band threw over everything they’d achieved and went for a far more exhaustive and progressive approach. After previously establishing a heavy rock perception that was both powerful yet thoughtful, vocalist Sean Harris and guitarist Brian Tatler – the band’s visionaries – shook everything up by introducing more complex and challenging ideas into the music. It made the album a little too diffuse and provoking for many diehards, who wanted more of the same values they’d loved on the prior releases. However, this didn’t appeal to two talents who refused to stand still, take root and stagnate. The change in attitude is obvious on opening track Makin’ Music. Yes, it’s heavy and melodic, but the arrangement owes something to Jethro Tull – it is a little more supple than people were expecting. The agitation to stand apart from the masses becomes even clearer on the portentous The Kingmaker, with its thrusting eastern soundscape, and on the title track, which has an evocatively sensitive piano underbelly. But arguably the crowning glory here is Ishmael. Blessed with a mysterious, epic atmosphere, it lasts a shade over four minutes, but has a confident stride that fitted in a lot more with the burgeoning neo prog scene a the time, rather than with anything going on in the metal world. Canterbury is an affluent album, rich in musical detail and certainly has a level of accomplishment that is so demanding the band actually replaced their rhythm section while the album was being recorded. When it was released, this confused a lot of people. It was criticised for being too different to what people had come to expect from Diamond Head. But, more than 30 years after it first appeared, Canterbury can finally be revealed for what it is: a quality progressive excursion that took the band into uncharted realms and heralded the start of an artistic journey that was never taken further. Canterbury is an opulently progressive triumph.

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica (opens in new tab), published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. He would later become a founding member of RAW rock magazine in 1988.

In the early 90s, Malcolm Dome was the Editor of Metal Forces magazine, and also involved in the horror film magazine Terror, before returning to Kerrang! for a spell. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009. He was actively involved in Total Rock Radio (opens in new tab), which launched as Rock Radio Network in 1997, changing its name to Total Rock in 2000. In 2014 he joined the TeamRock online team as Archive Editor, uploading stories from all of our print titles and helping lay the foundation for what became Louder.

Dome was the author of many books on a host of bands from AC/DC to Led Zeppelin and Metallica, some of which he co-wrote with Prog Editor Jerry Ewing.