PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Diamond Head: To the Devil His Due [DVD]

One of metal's most influential, yet criminally underrated bands makes its DVD debut, and does not disappoint.

Diamond Head

To the Devil His Due

MPAA rating: N/A
Label: MVD Visual
UK Release Date: 2006-08-21
US Release Date: 2006-11-21
Artist website

While Iron Maiden and Def Leppard are the most renowned bands to have emerged from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal scene in the late '70s and early '80s, one could argue that, with just one album, Diamond Head had an even bigger influence on the development of the metal genre as a whole. That one album, '80's Lightning to the Nations, ranks as one of the greatest metal albums of the '80s, and although it didn't generate the kind of UK sales that rival discs like Iron Maiden and On Through the Night did around the same time, it benefited greatly from word of mouth among the metal underground, ultimately reaching the American West Coast, where a couple of teenagers named Ulrich and Hetfield discovered it for themselves and wound up basing the sound of their new band on what they were hearing on that record. Relentlessly fast songs like "Helpless" and "The Prince" helped pave the way for the thrash metal movement, and not only did the epic, doom-laden "Am I Evil" contain one of the most wicked metal intro riffs ever recorded, but Metallica's now-legendary 1984 cover of the tune brought new attention to Diamond Head's early work, the band collecting royalties from the cover for years.

Sadly, Diamond Head's career trajectory was bumpier than that of Iron Maiden and Def Leppard, as 1982's fascinating, yet horribly inconsistent Borrowed Time and 1983's pretentious Canterbury all but ended any hopes of cashing on the '80s metal wave. For a band that seemed to have all the right ingredients, from musicianship, to songwriting, to respect among metal fans, to a formidable lead singer in the smooth-voiced Sean Harris, to see it all fizzle in a matter of a couple years was devastating. Thanks to bands like Metallica and Megadeth, though, who helped turn a new generation of teens to Diamond Head's music, the band has gained respect over the years, eventually opening the door for a pair of reunion albums, 1993's Death and Progress and 2005's All Will be Revealed.

The 2006 incarnation of Diamond Head has only guitarist Brian Tatler as the sole original member remaining, after the firing of harris in 2004, but the replacement musicians, for all their anonymity, do a capable job in a back-up role on this new live DVD, recorded at London's Astoria a year ago. Most impressive is new singer Nick Tart, whose vocal style bears a strong similarity to that of Harris, but delivers it with more enthusiasm and charisma, which plays a big role in why this performance is so appealing.

Diamond Head might valiantly try to keep the creative fires burning, but they remain primarily a retro act; the punters come to hear the classics, and while we do get sporadic plugs for the new CD and performances of such decent new fare as "Mine All Mine" and "Give it to Me" (from All Will be Revealed), the old material remains central to the set. And Tatler and company absolutely cook on the older material, such as on the cruising "It's Electric", the blues-drenched "Sucking My Love", and the anthemic "Lightning to the Nations", while the stupendous triumvirate of "The Prince", "Helpless", and "Am I Evil?" are bolstered by both Tatler's lithe, ageless lead fills and Tart's versatile singing. In total, all but one Lightning to the Nations track is performed, along with Canterbury obscurity "To the Devil His Due" and the Borrowed Time gem "In the Heat of the Night", which closes the set on a rousing note.

Professionally shot (not a cameraman in sight, which is always good), and neatly presented in both surround and stereo mixes, it's an enjoyable live document of an intimate concert, but if there's one gripe, it's that the crowd is a little too laid back, the majority of whom stand politely until the fantastic final 20 minutes. Despite the decided lack of atmosphere, the band does a good job making up for it, the music sounding much more youthful than Tatler's grizzled mug would let on, answering the question, "Am I evil?" with a resounding, "Yes, I am."


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.