Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2021
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Aluminium Head - 35%

King_of_Arnor, February 23rd, 2021

Diamond Head, at least until recent years, has been the epitome of wasted potential in metal. What once started out as a top-tier NWOBHM trailblazer with the classic and highly influential debut Lightning to the Nations, and even billed as the "next Led Zeppelin", quickly degenerated into failed experiments and "progressive" wankery - the result of many poor decisions and vain grasping at rock stardom, all within a record 3 years. But not even this was to be the end for Tatler & Co.; if the band had reluctantly shot themselves in the foot with Canterbury, they had forcefully taken a shotgun to the face with Death and Progress. This was the ill-conceived "comeback" after 10 years of dormancy that nobody expected nor wanted, and was finally released in 1993, the year where metal as a whole found itself in a mid-life crisis.

Having more in common with Guns N' Roses than the NWOBHM movement that they abandoned all those years ago, or even any form of metal for that matter, Diamond Head have successfully taken the fastest route to commercialisation on this record. This is the kind of radio hard rock you'd play on a mundane 30-minute road trip to make the journey seem like a grandiose expedition. It's a thoroughly generic experience with the obligatory ballad 'Calling Your Name (The Light)' for posterity, with just scraps of the detectable elements that defined the band's sound previously. In fact, they were seemingly so desperate to compensate for their lack of musical talent at this point that they had to get Tony Iommi to play on 'Starcrossed (Lovers of the Night)', and Dave Mustaine to play on 'Truckin'. Why either of these legendary guitarists wanted to waste their talents on these insipid songs is beyond me, but their contributions make these tracks the only real highlights on this album, even if they're sorely under-utilised. Unfortunately though, they're the first two on this record, so everything afterwards takes even more of a dive in quality.

The most obvious red flag that immediately sticks out here is Sean Harris' new vocal style. He was always one of the more melodic vocalists in NWOBHM, but his approach worked on the debut because he was establishing a second melody to Brian Tatler's hyperactive riffs, so he didn't dominate the songs but still kept them interesting. Here though, it's almost like he actively goes out of his way to make the songs as annoying as possible to listen to. He inexplicably hums along to the dumbed down riffs sometimes, and also overdubs his voice on the choruses; you can bet as well that there's a lot of "Ah"s, "Oh"s and "Yeah"s, an approach he could have ironically borrowed from James Hetfield if nobody else at this point in time. Of course a new sound wouldn't be complete without a new equally idiotic look, so on this album's promo video, he performs exaggerated motions with this embarrassing 'sexy guy' attitude, all while of course donning a biker jacket. As for the other musicians, the bass is audible enough but might as well not even be there, mostly playing the same note in 'Calling Your Name', while the drums although equally nondescript most of the time do pick up the pace towards the speed of early Diamond Head at times, like at the end section of 'Starcrossed'.

'Wild on the Streets' is the only song with lyrics resembling anything intelligent, but even that comes off as just another attempt to be socially relevant without possessing a shred of authenticity. Meanwhile, it seems the band has gone beyond just borrowing time, as near the end of 'Damnation Street' a riff very similar to that on their classic opus 'Am I Evil?' starts to pop up, a sure sign that Tatler didn't have quite the creative spark as he used to. Speaking of which, there is a sore lack of memorable or unique riffs on this album whatsoever, robbing the music of what memorability it could have had. It's ultimately a frustrating waste of potential since Tatler was far more capable than this as his performance on the debut attests to, and even on Canterbury he hadn't abdicated all responsibility towards constructing half-decent riffs. At least this album goes out on quite an unexpected bang with the final track 'Home' rapidly picking up speed at the end, to the point that the band comes dangerously close to inventing glam speed metal. Though thankfully, that doesn't happen and we are finally released from the torture of having to listen to Sean Harris poorly attempt glam vocals for a whole 40 minutes.

On the whole, Death and Progress turns out to be among the worst sell-out albums of 1993, alongside those of many other bands that took the money train such as Annihilator, Anthrax, Sepultura and Entombed. In all its inoffensive hogwash, it represents a band that had effectively committed artistic suicide, and for the second time no less. This time it was even more fatal, as Diamond Head wouldn't show a semblance of a return to their former glory for another 23 years, and even then fans had to wade through two more mediocre albums to get to that point. I'll now close this tragic story of the British band that couldn't, with one of their vacuous yet equally prophetic lyrics penned for this very album: "Walkin', walkin', walkin' down on Damnation Street..."