'The Spider's Lullabye'
Release Date: 4th December 2015
Now here's a vocalist who can hit the high notes, a banshee who can make a baritone out of Rob Halford.
Real name Kim Bendix Petersen, King Diamond is a Danish vocalist who came to fame as frontman for Mercyful Fate, a Black Metal band part of the first wave, influenced by progressive and hard rock.
His solo career fronting his eponymous band took off when Merciful Fate first split in 1985, and this 1995 album is classic KD, reissued here with several bonus cuts.
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Diamond played with several bands during the 70s, and while with Black Rose he developed his theatrical quasi-satanic stage persona, with make-up and costume to match.
The subsequent Punk Metal band The Brats would lead to Mercyful Fate in 1980 and a number of classic if brutal Metal albums followed, mixing Black and Speed Metal, showcasing Diamond's vocal range. Their debut 'Melissa' is a classic and renowned release of the genre.
His solo career took off in 1985, taking 2 members of Mercyful Fate with him.
The band's debut, 'Fatal Portrait' released in 1986, featured guitarists Andy LaRocque and Michael Denner, bassist Timi Hansen (with Denner, formerly of Mercyful Fate) and drummer Mikkey Dee.
The album was well received and sold over 100,000 copies in the USA. Part of the album tells a short story too.
'Abigail, Them and Conspiracy' followed, building on previous successes, and all concept albums following dark and sometimes satanic themes. The sound would latterly be augmented by keyboards, some played by Diamond himself.
With Dee moving on Motörhead bound, 'The Eye' followed, then a compilation and a live album before Mercyful Fate reformed.
With both bands running side-by-side. King Diamond recorded this album, 'A Spider's Lyllabye' in 1994, released in 1995.
Alongside King Diamond (vocals / keyboards) and Andy LaBocque (guitars and keyboards) were guitarist Herb Simonsen, bassist Chris Estes and drummer Darrin Anthony.
Lyrically moving back from the concept to the short story format, the album kicks off with 'From The Other Side'. Machine-gun drums and blistering guitars, the song tells of a struggle with an out of body experience. Diamond shows off his vocal range with polish and power, from mid-range to near ultrasonic. There's some serious shred too.
'Killer', about a serial killer given the electric chair, is a chunky number with equally piercing vocals. The slower moments help the storytelling too.
In keeping with the dark feel and themes, 'The Poltergeist' kicks off quite atmospheric before building, the growls adding a conversation type feel to the story. The riffs and rhythms are as blistering as ever and the keyboards add to the gothic dimension.
'Dreams', a nightmare track, also mixes chunky rhythms with shred, changes of pace, and an album's worth of guitar solo in the one track. From 'Children Of The Damned' (Moonlight) to references to previous albums' concepts ('6 Feet Under'), the themes continue.
The title track itself kicks off a short story about arachnophobia and the sufferings of the protagonist, following his attempted cure in a psychiatric hospital and subsequent death.
Lyrically as enjoyable as frightening, the vocals and guitars follow suit well. King Diamond has influenced much Metal and Black Metal since.
The remastering is good, the sound is fantastic, but totally understandable that, although it is quite accessible within its genre, the shred and banshee vocals may be too much for many. That said, I was surprised how much I enjoyed this album.
The bonus tracks (demos) add nicely to the package.