Three years after the release of their hugely impressive comeback album, Stourbridge NWOBHM veterans Diamond Head return with another slab of traditional heavy metal goodness.
Formed in 1976, the band have split twice and endured many line-up changes along the way, but under the guidance of founder member Brian Tatler, they are currently enjoying their longest, steadiest stretch since starting out all those years ago. With only one change in personnel since their last studio outing (bassist Eddie “Chaos” Moohan being replaced by Dean Ashton in 2016), latest album The Coffin Train (Silver Lining Music) delivers more of the same high-quality old school metal.
High energy opener ‘Belly of the Beast’ is ‘The Prince’ for 2019, armed with a great chorus and a pulse-pounding riff. ‘The Messenger’ is the purest of heavy metal blues, and the quite superb title track sounds like a collision between ’80s Black Sabbath and non-growly, proggy Opeth.
The somewhat sombre ‘Shades of Black’ includes some neat bass work and takes off towards the end as singer Rasmus Bom Andersen stretches his vocal cords. ‘The Sleeper’ builds momentum carefully and features another great performance from Andersen. ‘Death by Design’ has a classic seventies vibe with a splash of AC/DC, ‘Serrated Love’ is a bit of a slow burner but the classical guitar outro is worth hanging around for, ‘The Phoenix’ jabs at you with its staccato riffing before hitting you with yet another powerful chorus, and powerful, bass-driven closer ‘Until We Burn’ is neatly augmented by the use of strings.
With their eighth full-length studio album, Brian Tatler and Diamond Head are showing absolutely no signs of slowing down. Boasting a rich production, dependable top quality musicianship, and songwriting, and a classic NWOBHM sound imbued with progressive elements, The Coffin Train stands as one of the best albums of the band’s lengthy career to date.
8 / 10