Brian Tatler, the lone original member of New Wave of British Metal legends Diamond Head, is a knight errant, a singular guitarist whose impact is still felt and heard through the music of platinum superstars and subterranean Merlins alike, and he’s been on a quest to prove that for many years with a band of merry adventurers tagging along. Wednesday night’s Warrendale stop was another sparsely attended gig for the band, their third in the Pittsburgh area in seven years. One could say that they’re on crusade to reclaim a legacy and stake their claim once again as makers of the building blocks of what became speed/thrash. They may be proselytizing to the saved right now, but nobody in attendance at Jergel’s Rhythm Grille was complaining, Tatler invoking Schenker, Blackmore, Page, and Gorham, weaving riffs and solos out of pure wattage like a magician as Karl Wilcox, Andy Abberley, and Dean Ashton — his veteran wingmen — kept it true. Vocalist Rasmus Andersen is the closest we’ll get to having prodigal frontman Sean Harris back in the fold, his Robert Plant-ish throat pouring honey over influential classics and newer, lesser-known material alike. A tremendous 90-minute set it was, Diamond Head showing us once again that they still deserve rings captured by Metallica and Megadeth.
Local openers Klaymore and Argus also celebrated the NWOBHM, each in their own way. Klaymore, led by multitalented electric jester Lee Prisby, took their sardonic, virtuoso thrash down paths cleared by Lawnmower Deth, MOD, and Scatterbrain. Argus, with chief member Brian Balich at the microphone, sparred with intensely fluid and studied axeman Dave Watson as if they were Messiah Marcolin and Lars Johansson, their galloping, riffy, frighteningly cunning doom dialing up Angel Witch and Quartz, hooves thundering across the darkened plains in search of epic clashes.
With Metallica due to headline a large North American arena tour soon, it is somewhat sad to know that bands such as these won’t get to be a part of it, the music business being gravely unjust enough to decide that stand-up, lowbrow comedy will go over better with fans, but at the same time, we should feel fortunate to have them around at all. To be able to see an act like Diamond Head in an intimate setting is far more satisfying than spending obscene amounts of money watching aristocrats from hundreds of feet in the air at a glorified hockey rink.