Documenting a triumphant performance from one of heavy metal’s most influential bands, this film, recorded at the London Astoria in November 2005, contains songs such as “It’s Electric,” “I Can’t Help Myself” and “Am I Evil?”
Mountain, Cactus, Montrose, Black Country Communion and Greta Van Fleet: They’ve all been called either America’s Led Zeppelin or the next Led Zeppelin. The latter designation has also been applied to New Wave of British Heavy Metal bashers Diamond Head.
Hailing from Birmingham, the self-proclaimed home of metal due to local heroes Black Sabbath and Judas Priest having been born there in 1969, Diamond Head burst onto the scene in 1980 with its rough but charmed “Lightning to the Nations” debut. From there it was onto MCA Records for the swanky albeit disappointing “Borrowed Time” plus one more album, “Canterbury,” before things fell apart, the enormous hype not fulfilled. The “next big thing” accolades fell mostly upon mercurial, eccentric lead singer Sean Harris and guitarist Brian Tatler, who persevered through the loss of Harris to get to where we are in this film: Diamond Head 3.0 (we got 2.0 with the excellent “Death and Progress” record of ’93, on which Harris still croons).
Along the way, Metallica kept the band in the conversation by covering the British group’s songs on official recordings — this after the Bay Area band devoted half the setlist of its first-ever gig to Diamond Head classics such as “Helpless,” “Sucking My Love,” “Am I Evil?” and “The Prince,” all of which are played in this show, filmed at the Astoria in London on November 4, 2005.
So, who is performing these doomy yet weirdly arresting anthems? Well, it’s band anchor Tatler; the drummer from “Death and Progress,” Karl Wilcox; plus a bunch of new guys, namely guitarist Eddie Moohan, bassist Adrian Mills and most hot-seatedly, vocalist Nick Tart. To put it harshly, it’s a lineup of questionable legitimacy, notwithstanding the fact that a week before the gig, the guys had just released a new studio album called “All Will Be Revealed.”
In terms of the video’s aesthetics, the camera work seems professional though the lighting is a bit low. Sonically, the mix is workmanlike but fine, somewhat challenged at the bottom end, with the vocals clear and high. The lack of crowd reaction between songs feels a bit off-putting, especially for a packed theater gig. But this is a minor complaint as the guys blast through a tight set with confidence. Tatler’s tone is meaty yet exacting, which becomes evident when he rips into one of his always musical but traditional and earthy guitar solos, with normal-sized and quick licks alike.
Vocally, Tart is equal parts Sean Harris, Charlie Huhn of Ted Nugent fame and Brian Howe of both Ted Nugent and Bad Company fame.
But as far as the punters are concerned, it all boils down to a referendum on Tart. How does he fare? Perfectly fine, though the pageboy haircut and simple threads (jeans, sneakers, white T-shirt, changed at one point and gone by close of show) are a slight provocation that he’s got to overcome with pipes. And he does. Vocally, Tart is equal parts Sean Harris, Charlie Huhn of Ted Nugent fame and Brian Howe of both Ted Nugent and Bad Company fame (the guy even looks like a young composite of all three). Tart changes vocal melodies and phrasings, and ducks notes like Paul Rodgers, especially on the opening wobbler “It’s Electric.” That said, when I saw the band in Toronto eight years later, the singer became triple the firecracker he is here. I was so won over that I was quite disappointed when, after one more record, “What’s in Your Head?” (2007), his run came to an end.
Diamond Head has recorded two more studio albums since ‘07, with a new singer, Rasmus Bom Andersen, and with Tatler repeatedly showing that the songwriting prowess he demonstrated early on was no fluke. The band continues to knock together street-level, NWOBHM-authentic heavy metal, and yet there’s more than ample exploration of non-metal styles combined with little fear of melody — as can be heard here on the four “All Will Be Revealed” tracks marbled between the material Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich loved so much.
“Electric Evil” Setlist
Give It to Me
Mine All Mine
Lightning to the Nations
To the Devil His Due
I Can’t Help Myself
Sucking My Love
Streets of Gold
Am I Evil?
Heat of the Night
Martin Popoff has penned 90 books on heavy metal, classic rock, punk and record collecting. He was Editor-in-Chief of Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles, Canada’s foremost metal publication in print for 14 years, and has also contributed to Revolver, Guitar World, Goldmine and Record Collector. Martin is a regular host on Banger TV and has been a longtime contractor to Banger Films, having worked on the research and writing teams for a half-dozen docs and ongoing series. He also commandeers a podcast for Pantheon called “History in Five Songs” and is part of a YouTube channel called The Contrarians.