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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