Almost 40 years have passed since Diamond Head released their landmark “Lightning to the Nations” album. That album established them as one of the NWOBHM’s best acts, featuring anthemic songs that went on to influence a crop of younger bands, most notably, Metallica.
This is a different band, with former vocalist Sean Harris having been replaced by Rasmus Bom Andersen in 2014, and every other current member being a newcomer, aside from Drummer Karl Wilcox who joined the band in the 90’s, and of course Brian Tatler, who is the last remaining original.
On The Coffin Train, Diamond Head seems to be attempting to shake their NWOBHM sound of the past. Sure, on the opener, Belly of the Beast, we’re treated to a fast paced riff fest, reminiscent of Helpless. It’s a ripper of a way to open the album, and certainly a highlight for me.
A long intro gives way to some great galloping riffs on The Messenger, for a booming traditional metal song. The Coffin Train is simple and effect. There’s a groove at play here that will have your foot tapping along. Andersen’s vocals are more his own, not that he was trying to copy Harris in the previous songs, but he definitely goes in his own direction here.
Shades of Black is a little more atmospheric, and definitely slows the pace. Soaring vocals and some sweet guitar, working together to create another highlight for me. From there we go to The Sleeper (Prelude) which is about a minute of pointlessness, before arriving at Tge Sleeper proper. Starting off peacefully and quite bare bones before launching into monster riffs and equally huge choruses. The climax of the track is worth the build up.
Death By Design opens up with a simple guitar intro, then transitions into Iron Maiden territory, before ultimately becoming its own entity. Rasmus lets his vocals fly here, and sounds better for it. He is a top singer.
Serrated Love has a decent groove, but honestly, it’s the most forgettable track here for me. The Phoenix offers up more incredible vocals, more stellar guitar work, and some huge fat bass for added effect. Another favourite.
Until We Burn is the epic album closer. It is another exceptional track, but I would have preferred something a little faster and heavier to put an exclamation point on the record.
The Coffin Train is a really good album. It retains enough of the Diamond Head sound of old to appeal to long time fans, and adds plenty of modern influence to possibly pick up newer fans. Well worth a listen.
Review by Shayne McGowan