Diamond Head - The Coffin Train

Diamond Head The Coffin Train cover
Diamond Head
The Coffin Train
Silver Lining Music
Diamond Dead’s story is one of an underdog that could have made it big, but the right set of circumstances sort of eluded them. They sort of changed their style when they could have kept on going had a bit of a temperamental frontman and not a consistent enough output when it mattered the most. Plus competition was fierce back in the day.
Metallica championed them by covering several of their songs and having them open for them at the height of their popularity, so this gave them not only a steady source of income but also a second chance at rocking the world. They seem to have taken it up, but despite them being far more consistent since their “resurrection” the public’s fickle tastes seem to have changed radically since, meaning the ship of worldwide mass success has probably shipped for good. That doesn’t seem to irk the band however, which has released four quite nice albums, without paying much attention to the ever-changing and often fading music trends around them.
Since having their previous vocalist Nick Tart relocate to Australia, which made it impractical to collaborate with him any longer, the band who tried to make that arrangement work for a fair bit, switched over to Danish-born vocalist Rasmus Bom Andersen, who seems to also fit their overall style rather well, sounding like a more grungy, rough around the edges; Sean Harris compared to Tart’s bluesier and tamer style. Andersen proved himself on the band’s 2016 eponymous album and on “Coffin Train” he just continues to prove a good choice for a vocalist. Less membership drama allows the band and in particular their leader and sole original member Brian Tatler to focus on the music.
“Belly of the Beast” is a massive quasi thrashing track, not exactly typical of Diamond Head at least in terms of how heavy it sounds, pushing things in almost an Anthrax (at their most melodic) direction, which you won’t hear me complain about. A nice more old-school solo also fits among the whole chaos imploding and the exploding around you… think “Helpless” if an Anvil was attached to it. Suffer…
“The Messenger” brings a nice selection of awesome riffs, including a locomotive like massive one, doubled down by a big grove on the bass and drums. Heavy as a ton of bricks, it rocks hard and hits home just as it should… it’s got something of the youthful naivete and flair of “Am I Evil” but it’s also very much its own song.
“The Coffin Train”, which I suppose is a euphemism for how our “modern life” has turned out and it’s an interesting far more melodic, elegy of a song, with pretty bleak lyrics that take a rather pessimistic view on world conflict and the way religions and politics intertwine but fail to keep people appeased and instead seem to put em on a collision course… it makes a plea to change that.
“Shades of Black” is a slow, psych-tinged, doomy little piece, that comes a little out of the blue, but once it sets in it starts strutting around its massive riffs and whacked out phat sounding lead and doesn’t quit until it’s done… super! It single handedly shows to most stoner bands “how it’s done”.
“The Sleeper” is largely based on the “Dune Mythology” and has a minute long “prelude” with distorted ravings that however echo lines from the book and once the actual song begins it continues to do so even more so… “The Sleeper must awaken…” etc. Musically think of it as a weird mix between Sabbath and Led Zepellin, Diamond Head of old and very early Soundgarden, sounding far more refined and sophisticated. A nice epic song, whose premise unfortunately seems to mirror modern life pretty close…
“Death by Design” riffs hard once again, without entirely throwing off the “Zeppelin-esque” mantle its predecessor wore. In fact, it sounds quite close to what the band should have gone for in the mid-80s. Its ingenious main riff and matching vocal lines work really well… making it one of the better and most memorable songs on offer.
“Serrated Love” is much groovier and gravitates towards a more mid-tempo thus sounding quite heavy…
“The Phoenix” begins with some soft strumming, before a bludgeoning riff hits home. The vocal lines are a little odd and veer towards grungy psychedelia at times, but for all its peculiarities, it’s still a rather enjoyable affair, with that massive riff, just smashing any doubts flat-out.
Last, but certainly not any less interesting, is the album closer “Until We Burn”, a bizarre somewhat prog and poppy number that’s not a million miles away from Muse, but well not quite… since it’s unlikely Muse would ever produce something like this.
Overall, If you’ve been following the most recent adventures of Diamond Head, “The Coffin Train” will make total sense, but even if you’ve left the band on its 80s heyday, it’s still plenty similar to not alienate you from what the band has to offer at this day and age. Unapologetically playing to their strengths, Diamond Head deliver another fine collection of songs for all those, who can be bothered to lend an ear, irreverent of how few or how many those might be.