Diamond Head

Am I Evil?: Anthology

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New Wave of British Heavy Metal heavyweights (and mainstream metal failures) Diamond Head were long overdue for a best-of anthology, and chances are Sanctuary's two-disc Am I Evil?: Anthology, although not exactly perfect, is about as good as anyone could have hoped for. Except for the unusually poppy single "Sweet and Innocent," all of Diamond Head's first and finest, nameless album (commonly referred to as Lightning to the Nations) and its essential B-sides ("Shoot Out the Lights," "Play It Loud," etc.) are paraded before the court here -- to the continued wonderment of all who may hear them. And for all of their inherent faults, the far less satisfying songs chosen from sophomore disaster Borrowed Time ("In the Heat of the Night," the title track, etc.) manage to acquit themselves ever so slightly in retrospect's benevolent glare. Not so the desperately unsalvageable submissions (and too many of them, let it be said) culled from confused third opus Canterbury, which remain as indefensible today as they did then -- with the only possible exception being the somewhat classy "Knight of the Swords." A surprisingly large number of cuts are also chosen from Diamond Head's belated but not completely forgettable comeback, Death & Progress, and the final trio of classics captured live in concert are interesting enough. Inevitably, however, a few tragic oversights were bound to occur, and it's really a shame to find masterful numbers like energetic first album outtake "Streets of Gold" or Death & Progress' haunting opener, "Starcrossed (Lovers of the Night)," omitted from this anthology's final selection. All a matter of opinion, one supposes, and of course many would argue that it's a waste of time even going beyond that be-all, end-all of a first album to sample a career that afterwards only headed south. But, for the more curious listener looking to sample both the good and the not so good, or to supplant a weathered copy of the horribly and senselessly remixed Behold the Beginning, this is a fine investment.

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