Diamond Head – “Borrowed Time” (1982)

Borrowed TimeWorking up to Borrowed Time, Diamond Head had generated quite a buzz in the metal world with their independently released debut (known as Lightning To The Nations), and a few independently released singles.  Hailed as one of forerunners of the NWOBHM, Diamond Head were snatched up by a major label, MCA Records.  Unfortunately, critics didn’t seem to like the LP that followed, Borrowed Time.  The album failed to propel Diamond Head into super stardom as some had predicted/hoped.  In hindsight, Borrowed Time may have been the wrong album at the wrong time for Diamond Head.  Borrowed Time was a much tamer, well-behaved album than Lightning To The Nations, which wasn’t what the public was looking for.  Nevertheless, I think that Borrowed Time is a really strong album, and in my opinion it’s somewhat of a hidden treasure.

Borrowed Time contains only seven tracks, but I think all of them are quite good.  The album starts off with In The Heat Of The Night.  Immediately one notices that the in-your-face guitars of Lightning To The Nations are no more.  Instead, we are greeted with a polite, well-balanced mix with excellent fidelity.  In The Heat Of The Night is a slow-paced tune, and with a surprising subdued main riff.  Yet the song works thanks to Sean Harris’ clever vocal performance.  Harris really shines on this album.  Vocal-wise, he had many unique idiosyncrasies in terms of timing and note selection that made him an entertaining listen.  Diamond Head continue to show their restraint with To Heaven From Hell and Call Me.  Again, the pacing and arrangements of these tunes are a stark contrast to the Lightning To The Nations album.  Speaking of the Lightning To The Nations album, the song Lightning To The Nations follows, a re-recording of the original.  Track number five is the album’s cornerstone, the brooding title track — a menacing atmospheric tune that clocks in at almost eight minutes.  Don’t You Ever Leave Me follows, another eight minute number.  The first five or so minutes of Don’t You Ever Leave Me kind of meander aimlessly, but for the last three minutes the tune turns into a beautiful slow blues piece highlighted by Brian Tatler’s mournful lead guitar and Harris’ emotive vocals.  The last track is a re-recording of the now classic Diamond Head masterpiece Am I Evil?.  This version is not quite as good as the definitive original but it still brings the Borrowed Time album to a rousing finale (note the small lyric changes on this version).  In the end, we are left with an album that I truly believe is better than Lightning To The Nations, though I expect few would agree with me.  I definitely recommend discovering this misunderstood album for yourself!  My score: A-

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