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Diamond Head Really are on Borrowed Time. Yikes. - 61%

Superchard, January 18th, 2019

There's good reason why anyone who recalls the genius of Diamond Head brings up Lightning to the Nations and you never hear anything beyond their debut made infamous through Metallica's cover of "Am I Evil?". After their debut, Diamond Head signed to MCA Records, which sported its fair share of NWOBHM bands such as Quartz, Tygers of Pan Tang, and Budgie for a two album stint before dying off completely for a decade. What would ensue on Borrowed Time would be truly unremarkable, a band beyond recognition sounding tired and bland with very few remnants of what made them great on their debut present. Everyone once in a while a song like "To Heaven From Hell" will remind us who we're listening to, but the overwhelming majority of their sophomore is so unbearably stale, and part of this may be due to the thin production. The other soul-sucking part of this though is that Diamond Head just don't sound like they're enjoying themselves, as if the music is now just like any other job where you punch in and get to work.

Case in point, "Call Me" is about what you'd expect judging from its title. Need I say more? It's got that dated sound of your average glam band with the strut and pomp of the pop music of something like Prince (yes, purple rain Prince), MC5 or The New York Dolls this is not. Thankfully, that's as low as the album ever gets, but then we see the band not even trying as we get to the halfway point and they're redoing songs from their debut. Cult classics "Lightning to the Nations" and "Am I Evil?" make it on this seven song album, and they did absolutely nothing different with them. I can't definitively say why they would do this, perhaps Lightning to the Nations went out of print relatively quickly and they wanted to recapture the best moments of that album while they were signed to a new label that could get them more exposure. Fair enough in that regard I'd suppose, but in retrospect it's still disappointing when giving Borrowed Time its fair dues.

As for everything else, it's a bit hit or miss for me. I definitely think Diamond Head are still challenging themselves in some regard to write interesting material on songs like the title track and album opener "In the Heat of the Night", which we could point to as early inspiration for bands like Manowar and Omen to come up with the earliest conceptions of power metal. I don't necessarily like it, ambitious as it may be for the time. "Borrowed Time" brings the best of this new Diamond Head to the table. It's still a bit lethargic and anemic, but far in a way the best song to have named the album after brandishing additional percussion, Arabian nods and a psychedlic backdrop. "Don't You Ever Leave Me" on the other hand channels the blues rock of Led Zeppelin for something that feels a decade behind the times. Not a bad song, but unremarkable and redundant as it goes on for eight minutes through a long-winded improvised section to end it.

Diamond Head truly were living on borrowed time, their sophomore being a halfhearted attempt to apparently reintroduce themselves with new and old material. As much as I love the two reused songs, I would have liked to hear Diamond Head put together a sophomore of completely new material. I could see Borrowed Time making more sense in a pre-internet era of music where maybe Lightning to the Nations was harder to access. At the time of writing this review, the original vinyl of this album is going for around $60 on ebay. Not impossible to find, but much harder to come by than the 2016 reissue comparatively going to about $15. Either way, even for its time, Borrowed Time was obsolete, offering Diamond Head fans very little new material. They have managed to expand their horizons, but not without the cost of sounding more hollow than ever.

Superchard gets super hard for
Borrowed Time
To Heaven From Hell

Living On...Borrowed Time - 90%

RaVenom, March 22nd, 2008

As long as i can remember this album is called "Living On...Borrowed Time", you couldn´t see "Living on" on the frontcover cause it was in the backcover along with a photo of four very skinny, still very talented young musicians.

After the glorious and almost perfect Lightning to the Nations, Diamond Head released this LP with a more refined sound, better production and songs more in the 80's metal, than the dynamic NWOBHM of the first album.

The songs are very mellodic still catchy, and we have re-recorded versions of Lightning to the Nations and Am i Evil who are as good as the originals. In the Heat of the Night opens the album; is a slow tempo atmospheric song, then goes to more melodic "Heaven from Hell" and the almost pop ballad "Call me", then the new version of the classic "Lightning" where Sean Harris shows and excellent performance, then we have Borrowed Time a song with a lot of atmosphere, a song that could be considered both Progressive rock/Heavy Metal, and finally Don´t you ever leave and Am I Evil, the best songs of the album in my humble opinion with the excellent riffing/soloing of Brian Tatler, who is a riff machine.

The band would experiment with "Canterbury" which was step down both from the white album and Borrowed Time, buth this is A Good Album, energetic and melodic as only NWOBHM could be...

Metal's forgotten gem. - 95%

Master_of_the_Pit, March 26th, 2007

This album is one of my all time faves. From the Elric inspired cover, the amazing voice of Sean Harris, Brian Tatler's inspired guitar playing and most of all...the songs, this hits the mark in so many ways. Many say that Diamond Head's first album was their best and often overlook the other 2 they released. The first track says it all really..."In the Heat of the Night", is a creeping crawling masterpiece following the journey of the warrior as he comes up to the tower-"Before long, behind adamantine doors, I taste of the wine of their joy. Through delirium of a tortured mind Her face gave me strength to this day"-cool lyrics, cool song. Diamond Head are never given enough credit for their lyrics and the athmospheres they created in their music. Complex music met often fantastical lyrics to sweep one away to times unknown, places lost in the mists of time. Living on Borrowed Time is another example of this dreamscape athmosphere and who could forget the mighty "Am I Evil?" All this, and yet the band had the ability to switch path and pen a Zepellin inspired masterpiece in "Don't You Ever Leave Me", conjuring up thoughts of classics such "Dazed and Confused/Babe I'm Gonna Leave You". And here is where we find the crux of the problem concerning Diamond Head's legacy. Diamond Head were too ambitious to be confined by the limitations genre and style. They wanted to explore their music and this was probably too much for die-hard headbangers. The next album "Canterbury" is a testament to that...again a classic though scorned by those Metal heads who feel it is not metal enough. Forget them because otherwise you're missing out. Allow yourself the time and open your mind to one of the best bands who carried the torch first lit by bands such as Zeppelin and Deep Purple, you won't regret it!

Seven 'new' tracks - 58%

UltraBoris, June 2nd, 2003

Well, five new songs, and two that were originally on Lightning to the Nations... those two are re-recorded.

Five of these seven tracks appear on the Half Moon Records "greatest hits" compilation, in great sound quality, and the sixth and seventh are not worth scavenging ... To Heaven from Hell is definitely the second-weakest song on this album, and I can see why it didn't make the best of. It kinda plods along. Don't You Ever Leave Me is just garbage - their stupid radio hit. Let us never speak of it again.

Am I Evil? Classic! This is the 'Mister Guitar' version - right before the main solo, Sean yells out Mister Guitar!!! Then, Brian's godly solo... just as godly as the original, though I do wonder why they had to re-record it. Both of them sound good, it's the shitty Metal Blade re-releases, not the early 80s LPs, that we must be worried about. But, there is an even better sounding version out there.. namely Half Moon. Lightning to the Nations is fundamentally identical to the old title track...

In the Heat of the Night, the opener - a slow, brooding number, but epic as a motherfuck - this is DH's sense of atmosphere coming through loud and proud here. Call Me is their other radio hit, and this is just a fun fucking song. It's a bit 80s-cheesy-glam, but damn if they don't do it well.

Then, the title track... I'm living!!! On borrowed time!! Man, this and In the Heat of the Night - just plain classic heavy fucking metal. It's hard to describe quite what they sound like, other than they must be heard. The epitome of melodic metal.

So why the 58, as opposed to a 100? 4 of 7 tracks are classics, Call Me is a barrel of fun, and then that is 5 of 7 that you can obtain much easier, in fully remastered sound (BETTER than the original I am describing here), on the Greatest Hits. Thus, this album is not bad, just obsolete. You can read my review of that CD for more info on these songs.