Diamond Head – The Coffin Train (Silver Lining Music)Tuesday, 21st May 2019
Brought to the general public’s awareness due to Metallica covering numerous songs from their catalog in their early days, Diamond Head today may differ slightly in membership from those late 70’s/early 80’s roots as guitarist Brian Tatler remains the lone original axe-slinger of the current incarnation. Their 2000’s efforts met with lackluster results, but gaining Danish vocalist Rasmus Bom Andersen for the self-titled record in 2016 brought acclaim for his strong pipes to match Brian’s traditional metal songwriting hooks, bristling with bright riffs and catchiness that made them a legendary, vital part of the NWOBHM scene- especially for future thrash musicians. The Coffin Train continues the trend of veteran acts sticking to their guns while capturing a modern studio atmosphere to the benefit of hopefully not only the old-timers but indoctrinating some younger followers to the fold.
Rasmus shines throughout – able to ascend the necessary eagle note heights on the driving opener “Belly of the Beast” as well as showcasing a bit of his bluesy, Robert Plant meets Chris Cornell finesse during the dynamic title track. Tatler creates these majestic guitar parts made for dual rhythm headbanging, or occasional interplay to fill out the arrangements with second guitarist Andy Abberley – his bag of influences obviously coming from an Iommi, Page, Blackmore, and Schenker perspective just put in a heavier context, even when choosing to be subtle and building from clean to electric intensity for “The Sleeper” where the orchestration adds tension to the power chords and slower, steady tempo. There’s something to be said for catchy riffs and licks cementing themselves on initial airing and sticking to your brain and body. For The Coffin Train, there’s plenty of those moments – allowing Rasmus a chance to engage playfully and float effortlessly in and around the melodic parts of “Death by Design” and the Zeppelin-esque closer “Until We Burn” to make these two songs enormous and endearing.
The discussion over legacy bands churning out new material versus parading out the nostalgia classics on festival/tour runs could go on forever. Take the work on a case by case basis – it’s clear that bands like Judas Priest and Saxon are not resting on their creative laurels, and thankfully Diamond Head still possess enough ability to deliver memorable, quality material to the public today as well. Another brilliant record, mates.