Posted September 27, 2020 by Jeff in Tunes

Diamond Head Revisits Classic NWOBHM Album For 40th Anniversary

Diamond Head
Diamond Head

Released 40 years ago, Diamond Head’s debut, Lightning to the Nations, an album that band essentially intended to release as a demo, became a unlikely catalyst for the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) movement.

It would also have a huge influence on Metallica.

The first single/video, “It’s Electric,” shows off the band’s use of complex time signatures and melodic harmonies.

“It was written on the 15th of June 1978,” says guitarist Brian Tatler in a press release about the album’s reissue. “It was kind of our version of an AC/DC song. I had noticed that AC/DC had gaps in their riffs, so I thought I would do one in that vein and out came ‘It’s Electric.’ It was fast and exciting and soon found its way into our live set. We had the pleasure of opening for AC/DC in January 1980 and performed ‘It’s Electric’ in the set. I looked over to my left and noticed we were being watched by Bon Scott!”

“It’s Electric” was the first Diamond Head song that Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich ever heard.

“It seemed so right, it seemed so fresh, it seemed so effortless and above all, it seemed so fucking special,” Ulrich says in a statement. “Three and a half minutes after the needle hit the record on ‘It’s Electric,’ I was hooked.”

Metallica covered this song on the 1998 album Garage, Inc.

“[Singer] Sean [Harris] and I wrote ‘It’s Electric’ in the key of G, but Metallica transposed it to F# to make it easier to play,” says Tatler. “I have played it their way ever since. “

Lightning to the Nations 2020, a re-recording of the classic album, will be released on Nov. 20 via Silver Lining Music in CD digipak, double gatefold vinyl and digital formats as well as special D2C bundles.

As the album’s 40th anniversary loomed, Tatler, alongside vocalist and producer Rasmus Bom Andersen, knew exactly what they wanted to do.

“We thought it’d be great to re-record the debut album with this lineup and the modern technology available,” says Tatler. “The original album was recorded and mixed in a week, and we were very young; still 19 to 20 years old when it was recorded, so there’s a lot of that youthful energy. But we didn’t have the technique, time, or craftsmanship to record it with the sort of power that we could now. So that was a real thing to savor: the opportunity to go in the studio and record these songs fresh and vibrant.”

 Recorded over several sessions between various locations from France to band member home studios, Lightning to the Nations‘ central hub was Andersen’s Raw Sound Studios in London. It’s where Tatler and Andrew “Abbz” Abberley did the guitars in February and March of this year. During the COVID-19 shutdown, Andersen worked on the album between April and July with Tatler’s inspecting final mixes and tweaks in early August before sending off to mastering at Metropolis Studios.

As if these carefully shaped recordings weren’t enough, the album includes covers of tunes by Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest, Deep Purple and Metallica.

Lightning to the Nations 2020 is packed with ideas and riffs, but there is some thought gone into it all,” says Tatler, “and maybe that’s why it still sounds really good now, and we’re still having conversations about it.”


Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at [email protected].