Diamond Head - Lightning To The Nations: The White Album album review

Diamonds are forever

Cover Artwork for Diamond Head - Lightning To The Nations: The White Album

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When The Beatles released an album in a plain white sleeve in 1968 (The Beatles, aka the White Album), it wasn’t as ordinary as it first seemed. In fact it was designed at great expense by renowned pop artist Richard Hamilton. For New Wave Of British Heavy Metal pioneers Diamond Head, however, their White Album was the real thing, a bog-standard piece of drab cardboard produced at no great expense at band manager Reg Fellows’s own packaging factory.

To brighten up this dour offering, the band members added random autographs to the sleeves. A bidding war erupted among NWOBHM connoisseurs: “I’ll swap you a Colin Kimberley [bass] for a Duncan Scott [drums]…”

Released independently on DH’s own Happy Face Records in 1980 and available for the princely (pun intended) sum of three pounds and 50 pence, pristine vinyl versions of this remarkable debut (also named after its opening track, Lightning To The Nations) are now extremely sought-after. This two-CD set combines the original album with a number of rare singles and EPs, which make up the tracks on disc two.

Needles to say Diamond Head’s fledgling, Metallica-inspiring brilliance still shines through, as does the comment written all those years ago by yours truly: “More great riffs than the first four Black Sabbath albums combined.” Cataclysmic tracks such as Sucking My Love, Helpless, The Prince and Shoot Out The Lights underpin the very foundations of the NWOBHM, and are augmented by vocalist Sean Harris’s mighty presence and stunning phraseology.

Were they evil? No they weren’t. But Diamond Head’s White Album ties with Venom’s Welcome To Hell as the greatest debut of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal era.

Geoff Barton

Geoff Barton is a British journalist who founded the heavy metal magazine Kerrang! and was an editor of Sounds music magazine. He specialised in covering rock music and helped popularise the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) after using the term for the first time (after editor Alan Lewis coined it) in the May 1979 issue of Sounds.