Always got King Diamond mixed up with King Crimson. Still don’t know much about King Crimson except they’re prog. Part of why I don’t know much about them is that they don’t allow their music on streaming services, so screw you guys, I’m going home. But anyway, an intro to King Diamond. You see that picture above? Well, that tells you pretty much all of it. The only thing that’s missing is timeframe (mostly late-80’s) and the fact that there’s a ridiculous amount of falsetto in his style. Growly stuff, too, but it’s the falsetto that really stands out.
And if you can get past that falsetto and the cheesiness of the macabre lyrics (oh, gee, Greek mythology sure had some scary characters in it), you’ll find some late-80’s metal that still stands up almost 25 years later. But that’s a mighty big “if,” one I’m having quite a bit of trouble with myself.
Still, lots of listening has helped me appreciate what’s here. Sonically there’s a lot of overlap with the first three Queensrÿche releases, though of course Geoff Tate’s natural range is so much more appealing than any falsetto. Even lyrically, early Queensrÿche fits a bit here, with its evil woman and vampire themes, though Queensrÿche got plenty more sci-fi-y.
There are also some big concept albums in King Diamond’s discography, and that’s evident here, as songs repeatedly bring back the same names, characters, and elements. There’s lots of Abigail, Miriam, Jonathan, and a very disturbing grandmother that recur. Wikipedia gives run downs of the plots if you’re curious.
But all of that is far more enjoyable than what, from what I can tell, was King Diamond’s big break: “No Presents For Christmas,” a track that throws so much shlock into the mix that it becomes completely unlistenable despite containing some of his best riffs. To be fair, it’s obviously the great, thrashy riffs combined with the ludicrous lyrics that made it so popular. Too much for me, though.
Finally, by rating some of these as “Like,” I was rating them relatively to the rest of the album. It’s very hard for me to say I want to listen to any songs with his falsetto in them ever again. “Abigail” is the best.
Like: “Charon,” “Abigail,” “The Invisible Guests,” “Eye Of The Witch,” “Burn
Meh: “The Candle,” “Halloween,” “No Presents For Christmas,” “Arrival,” “A Mansion In Darkness,” “The Family Ghost,” “Welcome Home,” “Tea,” “At The Graves,” “Sleepless Nights”
Song Notes: After the jump
- The Candle – from 1986’s The Portrait
- Charon – Great opening riff, gets kinda ruined when he starts the falsetto. Well how original for for an 80’s metal band to write a song about the ferryman of the Hades. from 1986’s The Portrait
- Halloween – from 1986’s The Portrait. Pretty boring.
- No Presents For Christmas – This is really thrashy, and that part’s all right, but it’s really hard to get past the kitschiness, especially of the “Jingle Bells” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” medley intro. Even worse is the “Rudolph”/”I’m dreaming of a white sabbath” bit at the end. I assume that’s part of it’s appeal, but blurgh. A 1985 single later released on 1988’s The Dark Sides.
- Arrival – From 1987’s Abigail.
- A Mansion In Darkness – From 1987’s Abigail.
- The Family Ghost – From 1987’s Abigail. This hits at a few seconds at a time, particularly with some nice, crunch riffs, but the vocals are some of the worst in the collection.
- Abigail – I love this riff. From 1987’s Abigail.
- Welcome Home – “G G Grandma”. From 1988’s Them. Most disturbing lyrics: “Let me help You out of the chair…/G-G-Grandma/Let me touch You, let me feel… Ahhhh”
- The Invisible Guests – From 1988’s Them.
- Tea – From 1988’s Them. Really up in the falsetto for big stretches here. You have to be in the right mood for it.
- At The Graves – From 1989’s Conspiracy. I like the solo where he gets all angular. Almost nine minutes long. Eesh.
- Sleepless Nights – I like this solo, but the start is blegh. From 1989’s Conspiracy. Redeems itself in parts after a dismal start, but keeps insisting on heading back to crappy parts.
- Eye Of The Witch – From 1990’s The Eye. Drum beat is killer. The slow part is meh, but I like the rest. Definitely get some strong Queensrÿche here.
- Burn – From 1990’s The Eye.