When I review a new (to me) record, I tend to give it at least three full listens before I start talking about it (once when I first buy it and at least two in a row before I wrote the review). It isn’t a rule, but almost any record deserves this common courtesy.
I started writing this one after only two and a half listens because the thought of having to listen to it for another day was too painful to contemplate.
Disc 1152 is… Conspiracy
Artist: King Diamond
Year of Release: 1989
What’s up with the Cover? King Diamond consistently has awesome album covers, but there is always the exception that proves the rule, and this is it. The saddest thing about this cover is you can tell that King Diamond thinks he looks super scary and intense. Instead he looks like a guy about to fail a job interview to be a clown.
“No, Mr. Diamond – we’re looking for someone to do children’s birthday parties. This is highly inappropriate.”
“No, Mr. Diamond this isn’t suitable for “rock star” either.”
How I Came To Know It: I bought a 5 CD set of King Diamond’s first 5 albums. It was a good deal. I got three albums I really wanted, one I could live with and…this one.
How It Stacks Up: I used to have eight King Diamond albums, but I gave away “Abigail II” so now I have seven. Of the remaining seven albums, I rank this one eighth, slipping it behind the now departed “Abigail II”. It will remain in my collection because breaking up the 5 CD set would just wreck the boxed set, but it is going to sit in there and rot.
Ratings: 1 star
“Conspiracy” is what would happen if someone wanted to cross a creepy Alice Cooper concept album with the driving power of an Iron Maiden album – only crappy. I can see what King Diamond is going for here, and I usually like his mix of camp and power, but this record was just…not good.
As ever, King Diamond has a weird story to tell. Like “Abigail II,” “Conspiracy” is a sequel to a previous album (in this case 1988’s “Them”). The original story revolves around a house haunted with spirits, and “Conspiracy” sees the protagonist from the original return to the house in order to – o, who gives a crap. There is a plot here, but in order for me to be engaged in it I’d have to be enjoying the music, and I didn’t.
That isn’t to say it isn’t played with skill, because it is and guitarist Andy Larocque once again shows his virtuosity. Unfortunately, his prowess is wasted on songs that are bloated and unfocused.
King Diamond’s vocals are his usual weird mix of shrill and power, but with this being my fourth King Diamond review in my last 60 albums I was tired of hearing it. If you like an artist, you should revel in exploring their back catalogue, but instead King Diamond has just worn me out. It doesn’t help that this is the worst of what he has to offer.
There are weird waltzes, Phantom of the Opera organs, and an homage to the wedding march, There are also various characters voiced by Diamond – as he is wont to do – talking about stuff I either couldn’t make out or didn’t find interesting. The music is proggy without being interesting, and laden with power chords but lacking power. Songs shift around from one concept to another, all loosely stitched together and overlong.
Even the best song on the record, “A Visit From the Dead” is only half good. It spends the first two minutes with Larocque plunking away on what sounds like a very bad folk song and then turns into something that sounds like it was made for a bad horror movie for another minute. Finally at the three minute mark the song rocks out with a pretty killer riff. I liked that riff a lot and the guitar solo that follows is pretty solid also, but it was not worth the wait.
The most annoying thing about “Conspiracy” is I can’t even get rid of it easily, because it comes in a box set and tossing it would essentially make selling the box set later (which I am considering) almost impossible. This just made me crankier, and probably helped drop it down to its one lowly star.
I’ve got two albums left in that boxed set to review, and they are on notice. Do better!
Best tracks: ½ of “A Visit From the Dead”