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'Dreams Of Horror'
(Metal Blade Records)

Johnny Main

johnny main

king diamond

Over the course of thirty five years, King Diamond has remained as one of the most prolific and important figures in Metal. In 1985, his departure from Mercyful Fate marked the beginning of a long and storied career under the King Diamond banner and in 2015 they will be among the few surviving acts to celebrate thirty years as a band.

Since the band's inception, fans have been treated to a dozen studio albums, released on two of Metals most influential labels – Roadrunner and Metal Blade. 'Dreams Of Horror' is a two CD set of tracks handpicked by King himself, divided between the band's years with each label starting with their 1986 debut, 'Fatal Portrait', and including material from every subsequent release up to and including 2007s 'Give Me Your Soul... Please'.

The set, which has been meticulously mastered by King and guitarist Andy LaRocque, is in chronological order with at least one track taken from each album. For those familiar with the King Diamond back catalogue, there are some old favourites that any self-respecting fan should expect as well as one or two seemingly odd choices (and omissions) but whether you're a new fan or a seasoned veteran, this really adds up to showcase the very best of King Diamond.

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The album kicks off with two tracks, 'The Candle' and 'Dressed In White' are culled from the bands debut album, 'Fatal Portrait'. Recorded in 1985 and featuring current Motorhead sticksman Mikkey Dee on drums, part of the album tells the story of a girl called Molly who dies aged four. Molly's spirit returned to the house where she died and she possessed a painting so she could explain her pain to her mother.

From 1987s 'Abigail' album, King has chosen 'The Family Ghost' and 'Black Horsemen' here. 'Abigail' was the band's first concept album and is one of their most well known albums. The album is set in 1845 and tells the story about a young couple, Miriam and Jonathan, who move into an old mansion. During their first night in the mansion they meet the Family Ghost, who shows them the corpse of a stillborn child named Abigail. The ghost tells Jonathan that Miriam is carrying the spirit of Abigail and he must kill her to prevent the rebirth of Abigail.

'Them', released in 1988 and 'Conspiracy', released the following year, are two concept albums which deal with the fictional story of King and his maentally ill grandmother. The latter was the last King Diamond album to feature Mikkey Dee, and both centre around the House of Amon which is possessed by voices (the 'Them' of the title track) and King's attempt to rid them from the house.

The first disc closes with two track from 'The Eye' which turned out to be the last album recorded on Roadrunner. The story is of a necklace called 'The Eye', that allows the wearer to see the three specific (but unrelated) events the necklace was witness to in the past.

king diamond

With a new deal signed with Metal Blade in 1994, the band set about recording what would become 'The Spider's Lullabye' of which the title track and 'Dreams' open the second CD in the set. Although not a full concept album, all the tracks do tell different and unconnected stories about things like cursed children, a case of arachnophobia and a serial killer being put to death by the electric chair.

1996s 'The Graveyard' album is argulably one of the band's most successful albums and is represented here by 'Waiting' and 'Heads on the Wall'. Another concept album, the story revolves around King's character who is employed by the crooked and immoral Mayor McKenzie. King's character walks in on his boss molesting his daughter, Lucy. King doesn't keep quiet about this.

King's character is locked up in a Sanitarium and after years of being there, he sees his chance to escape and kidnaps the Mayor's daughter and enters into a a game in a graveyard where Lucy is buried alive in one of seven empty graves, and the Mayor must dig out his daughter from one of the graves while wearing a blindfold.

Entering the new millennium, the band produced the 'House Of God' album from which 'Black Devil' and 'Help!!!' represent the album here. Not one of the band's more successful albums, it again provides a narrative for the listener set about Angel who made a pact with the Devil. Likewise, the 2003 release 'The Puppet Master' is showcased by the title track and 'Blue Eyes'. Telling the tale of a husband and wife team who abuse and torture their victims in 1700s Budapest, it shows that the King Diamond/Andy LaRocque pairing certainly have a talent for telling a good story, even if the subject matter is sometimes controversial.

The album closes with two cuts from their most recent release, 2007s 'Give Me Your Soul... Please'. 'Never Ending Hill' (which was nominated for a Grammy in 2008, but ultimately lost out to a track by Slayer) and 'Shapes Of Black', bringing the King Diamond story right up to date so far. With the prospect of a new album next year, this collection is a great chance for the band to reflect on what they have achieved so far in their career.

As I said earlier, for those unfamiliar with the music of King Diamond, this compilation serves as a good introduction to the band's incredible back catalogue while for those who are more familiar with the material, it could serve as the home for the ultimate versions of these songs. There are no better versions of these tracks anywhere else, and with most of these tracks played live, with a little imagination is could almost be a studio representation of a King Diamond live set, plus a little extra thrown in for good measure.

'Dreams Of Horror' Tracklist:
Disc 1:
The Candle
Dressed in White
The Family Ghost
Black Horsemen
Welcome Home
The Invisible Guests
At the Graves
Sleepless Nights
Let It Be Done
Eye of the Witch

Disc 2:
The Spider's Lullabye
Heads on the Wall
Black Devil
The Puppet Master
Blue Eyes
Never Ending Hill
Shapes of Black

King Diamond are:
King Diamond – Vocals
Andy LaRocque – Guitars
Mike Wead – Bass Guitar
Matt Thompson – Drums

King Diamond Online:

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