Wednesday, November 4, 2009

King Diamond Remasters: Spider's Lullabye and The Graveyard

On October 13th King Diamond rereleased two of his albums from the 1990's. The Spider's Lullabye and The Graveyard are excellent, but often forgotten, chapters in the band's long history. It's somewhat understandable that these albums don't get much credit. Of course, the 90's were a dismal time for mainstream metal, and mostly, Mercyful Fate took precedence in those days. They released five albums while the King Diamond band released three (technically four, but I group The Eye (1990) with the 80's records). King Diamond sort of took a back seat, if only logistically, to MF in those days. And so, many people ignore these albums. Unfortunately for them, they contain some of the most imaginative musical and narrative elements of the entire KD catalog.

The Spider's Lullabye was released in 1995. It is actually the first record since the band's debut, Fatal Portrait, not to have an overarching storyline. It's fitting, since this was really the rebirth of the band. The first six tracks are a nice group of independent songs that give a good reintroduction after a five year silence. The final four songs of the record tell a tale of an aracnophobe who is tortured and killed after checking himself into a sanitarium. The music is a little heavier and a little more brutal than the early records. Production certainly has a hand in that, and with the remastering done by guitarist Andy LaRocque, the record has only gotten heavier. King's vocals are probably the most aggressive since Conspiracy (1989). The four track story arc shows King extending his spoken word intros into complete songs. The title track along with The Poltergeist show the evolution of a classic 80's metal band into a surprisingly vital 90's metal band.

The Graveyard, released just a year later, strengthened the band's new style. More so than the previous record, most of the songs are mid paced. The falsettos are toned down quite a bit. King uses his vocal range more to create creepy settings. It certainly fits the storyline, since The Graveyard is the only King Diamond record that deals with flat out insanity, with nothing terribly supernatural (until the end, anyway). The album tells the story of a man (let's call him King) framed for child abuse. After breaking out of a mental ward in the first few songs, King seeks revenge on the man who framed him. As the album goes on, King becomes more and more disconnected with reality while he hides out in a graveyard. The song Daddy is the climax of King's decent into madness. That particular song also shows off the outstanding guitar work on this album. While the solos on Spider's Lullabye might be a bit forgettable, LaRocque, along with then second guitarist Herb Simonsen really step it up on The Graveyard. Along with great guitar playing, this album probably has more harpsichord playing than any non-symphonic metal album.

These two album came at a slow point in King Diamond's career, and certainly in metal in general. I'm really glad they were rereleased so people can revisit them and appreciate their place in the discography... also, my originals are scratched beyond repair and they were out of print, so that's good too. Next up on the rerelease/remaster docket are Voodoo (1998) and House of God (2000). I'll post about them when the release dates are announced.