Monday, April 9, 2018

CD Odyssey Disc 1124: King Diamond

It’s appropriate this next album is about restless spirits because it feels like it is haunting me. I rolled it back in January, but decided starting my King Diamond journey with the sequel to an earlier album didn’t make much sense. Instead, I invoked Rule #5 and chose the first “Abigail” album, since it was also in the “new to me” section of the collection.

But like the ghost of Abigail herself, this album stalked me down to be reborn, more terrible than before.

Disc 1124 is… Abigail II: The Revenge
Artist: King Diamond

Year of Release: 2002

What’s up with the Cover? In days of yore, before the time of hair product, a creepy woman accepts a lantern from an even creepier toddler. I’m not one for creepy baby lantern-bearers, and with all that dry grass around their feet it looks like an accident waiting to happen. If I were this woman I’d take a pass on the lantern and just find my way by the glowing ghost light emanating from the mansion. Yes, that would be better.

How I Came To Know It: As part of my recent return to heavy metal I discovered a lot of King Diamond. I liked the original “Abigail” (reviewed back at Disc 1093) so getting the sequel just made sense. Well, it did at the time.

How It Stacks Up:  I have eight King Diamond albums. I now realize that this is too many King Diamond albums. “Abigail II: The Revenge” is in last place, and will soon be departing the hallowed stacks of my CD library.

Ratings: 2 stars

What is there to say about King Diamond that I haven’t said already – and recently. He’s a crazy face-painting Danish metal star who sings in a high falsetto and writes concept albums that would make great plots for cheesy seventies horror movies.

I love cheesy seventies horror movies, but having listened to so much King Diamond lately, I think I’ve worn myself out. It felt like I was on the final flick of a Hallowe’en marathon at three in the morning when everyone else had already gone to bed. All those crunchy rock riffs were still there, and King Diamond was still going all in to inspire me with his grotesqueries, but I just felt dehydrated and a little tired.

It wasn’t terrible - I was just kind of bored. It was the musical equivalent of falling asleep for twenty minutes of the movie but when you wake up you managing to piece together enough of what is happening that you don’t bother backing it up to see what you missed.

The tale this time revolves around the character of Abigail, who we last saw as a possessed baby eating a corpse before being nailed into some enchanted coffin. Like any bad sequel, “Abigail II” takes all kinds of liberties with the first story to allow all your favourite (?) characters to return. Abigail instead grows up, and the guy who supposedly dies falling down the stairs in the first album is now alive as a creepy middle-aged invalid. Rape and murder ensue, including a guy getting his throat slit by the necklace featured on the 1990 album “The Eye” because - why not? “Abigail II” has more implausible plot twists than Jaws IV.

For all this bat-shittery, there was a fair bit to like about “Abigail II” - mostly the music. Andy LaRocque lays down some badass guitar riffs and wails on some of the better solos. He is the Randy Rhodes to King Diamond’s Ozzy and his skillful playing provides the album the grounding it desperately needs. While a lot of the songs blend into one long conceptual metal soup (which I think is intentional) there are moments where LaRocque will not be denied, crunching along as his lead vocalist gleefully belts out his tale of mayhem and terror.

Unfortunately, the lyrics are hackneyed and obvious and very hard to overlook, with a lot of awkward phrasing and forced rhyme. King Diamond albums always teeter on the edge of overdoing it as they take you on their bizarre carnival experience. Maybe it was playing with fire once too often, or maybe I just got my fill of King Diamond on earlier, better records, but this time I had a harder time enjoying the ride.

Best tracks: Miriam

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