Lightning to the Nations

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Lightning to the Nations
Studio album by
Released3 October 1980
RecordedOld Smithy Recording Studio, Worcester, England, 1979
GenreHeavy metal
LabelHappy Face
ProducerReg Fellows
Diamond Head chronology
Lightning to the Nations
Borrowed Time
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[1]
Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal10/10[2]
Sounds3.5/5 stars[3]

Lightning to the Nations is the debut album by British heavy metal band Diamond Head. The album was recorded in 1979 (after the 1977 and 1979 demos) and released in 1980 through Happy Face Records, a label owned by the producer Muff Murfin of The Old Smithy studio of Worcester, due to lack of interest from major labels and the band feeling that they needed to get the ball rolling as other bands from the same era, such as Iron Maiden and Def Leppard, were already becoming big names. It was originally released in a plain white sleeve with no title or track listing, and was subsequently named after the first track on the album. Metal Blade Records re-released it on compact disc in 1992. In 2001, it was re-issued in its original "White Album" form by Sanctuary Records, featuring seven bonus tracks that were featured on singles and EPs from this era.

Album information[edit]

Diamond Head had gained enough attention to tour as support with AC/DC and Iron Maiden. Although a clutch of record companies fought to sign the band, none were willing to fully commit. The fact that the band was at the time managed by Sean Harris' mother (Linda Harris) did not help the band's commercial momentum. So, while other new wave of British heavy metal bands were signed to major labels and were headlining their own tours, Diamond Head were growing increasingly impatient and decided that they would release their material through their own label, Happy Face Records.

The album was recorded within seven days at The Old Smythy Studio in Worcester, which the band described as 'dead'.[4] This album came in a plain sleeve with no title, having on it only a signature of one of the band members and no track listings. The reason for this was that the band's new manager, Reg Fellows, owned a cardboard factory and could produce blank sleeves at low cost. Also, the reason for recording this album was an attempt to lay down some tracks so they could send it to a record company who would be more willing to release it, as the recording costs had already been covered; this idea came from Fellows and Linda Harris[5] (by then tour manager). There were originally only 1000 copies pressed of the album, which were only available at their concerts or through mail-order at a price of £3.50. In fact the only mail-order advertisement appeared in British music magazine 'Sounds' and ran for four weeks. However, the band did not pay for the ad and ended up being sued.

This album has become one of the most sought-after items from the time for record collectors. Later, there was a second pressing of 1000 copies that included track listings. The only original one-and-a-quarter-inch master tapes were lost for years after the band sent them to the German record company Woolfe Records, who did release the album (theirs having a front cover with a map of the world burning).

In 1993, Metal Blade Records released the first official CD version of the entire album. They did not attempt to find the master tapes or create a professional transfer from the original vinyl version and used a remix instead (made in 1986). Additionally, the track "It's Electric" has a major mastering error: the intro of the song is missing and it skips in shortly before the vocals start. High Vaultage Records released another version of the album in 1997, this time sourced from the German Woolfe Records LP. As a bonus, most of the 7" single tracks from that era were included. In 2001, a Sanctuary Records release came out. It includes the same mastering as the High Vaultage CD, which had since gone out of print. The 2011 Deluxe Edition, remastered by Andy Pearce, includes the original album sourced from the rediscovered master tape. This is the only CD release made from a remaster of the original tapes; all other CD versions include either the 1986 remix or the High Vaultage vinyl dubs.

Legacy and influence[edit]

The album catapulted Diamond Head to the forefront of the NWOBHM scene and was a big influence to many later metal bands, including Metallica and Megadeth. The former have covered songs such as "The Prince," "Sucking My Love," "Am I Evil?," "It's Electric," and "Helpless" all throughout their career and recorded most of them. Versions from various periods were compiled on Metallica's album Garage Inc.. As a result, Diamond Head became relatively well-known to Metallica fans and enjoyed exposure to a broader public than similar NWOBHM bands from the late 1970s and early 1980s.

In 2008, the Japanese metal magazine Burrn! rated this album as the third best riff album of all time, behind Black Sabbath's Master of Reality and Slayer's Reign in Blood.[6] Also, the Guitarists' Book of Heavy Metal ranked the track "Am I Evil?" at #5 on its list of the best metal riffs behind Iron Maiden's "The Number of the Beast".[7]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Sean Harris and Brian Tatler.

Side one
1."Lightning to the Nations"4:15
2."The Prince"6:27
3."Sucking My Love"9:35
Side two
4."Am I Evil?"7:39
5."Sweet and Innocent"3:13
6."It's Electric"3:37
CD reissue bonus tracks (Castle Music)
8."Shoot Out the Lights" (originally released as a single)4:17
9."Streets of Gold" (originally released as a B-side for the "Sweet and Innocent" single)3:34
10."Waited Too Long" (originally released on the double A-side single "Waited Too Long"/"Play It Loud")3:53
11."Play It Loud" (originally released on the double A-side single "Waited Too Long"/"Play It Loud")3:31
12."Diamond Lights" (originally released on the Diamond Lights EP)3:31
13."We Won't Be Back" (originally released on the Diamond Lights EP)4:18
14."I Don't Got" (originally released on the Diamond Lights EP)4:20


Diamond Head
  • Sean Harris – vocals, rhythm guitar on "Am I Evil?"
  • Brian Tatler – lead guitar
  • Colin Kimberley – bass
  • Duncan Scott – drums
  • Produced by Reg Fellows and Diamond Head, except:
  • "Streets of Gold" produced by Robin George and Diamond Head
  • "Waited Too Long" and "Play It Loud" produced by Tony Wilson
  • "Diamond Lights", "We Won't Be Back" and "I Don't Got" produced by Diamond Head and engineered by Leslie Penning


  1. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Diamond Head – Lightning to the Nations (The White Album) review". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
  2. ^ Popoff, Martin (1 November 2005). The Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal: Volume 2: The Eighties. Burlington, Ontario, Canada: Collector's Guide Publishing. p. 96. ISBN 978-1894959315.
  3. ^ Suter, Paul (20 September 1980). "Diamond Head "Diamond Head"". Sounds. Archived from the original on 27 July 2010. Retrieved 24 March 2011.
  4. ^ Kollektor's Klassik 3, pp16
  5. ^ A Rare Gem – Inside a proto-thrash classic Archived 7 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Lightning To The Nations 3rd in Greatest riffs album' poll
  7. ^ Am I Evil voted 5th Archived 23 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine