"Give Me Your Soul ... Please" (Metal Blade; 2007)

Reviewed by Metal Mark

King Diamond returns with his first album in four long years. There are a couple things that you can always seem to count on from a King Diamond album: The vocals will generally have lots of frantic changes, the guitar work of Andy LaRocque will largely be stellar and there will be some odd horror story theme. 

All of the above apply to the new album, but there is plenty more as well. For the vocals, it seems that King either doesn't or can't do the falsetto he once pulled out fairly often. However, he still delivers a mighty performance and keeps going steady as he always has. 

Andy LaRocque and Mike Wead are playing on their third album together and seem to be a pretty good team and feed off of each other nicely. There are many times here where they just seem to peel off riff after riff yet they make it sound so effortlessly seamless. The rhythm section of drummer Matt Thompson and bass player Hal Patino handle their duties well and keep the pace alive. 

Honestly, I have always been fairly indifferent with the lyrics on a King Diamond album. If it doesn't detract from the music then it really doesn't concern me that much. However, this story does have a young girl, a picture and some type of haunting which means they're all topics that King has done before although not on the same album. 

Considering the amount of albums the artists involved here have done, "Give Me Your Soul" is fairly fresh and creative yet still very much in the realm of classic styled metal. So many artists who started in the 1980s now seem to either reach too far or have run have out steam and ideas. It's obvious that this band certainly has not fallen into either of those traps. 

Still, there was something that nagged at me during the first time I listened to this CD and it took me a few subsequent spins to put my finger on the problem. Finally it came me: the production is different on many of the songs. It's slightly stripped down and many of the songs lack the richness that I am so accustomed to hearing from King Diamond. A few of the tracks have that thick sound present, but several of them seem to have been robbed of some of the luster that many of the previous albums had.

Overall, however, I would say "Give Your Soul to Me ... Please" is in the top half of King Diamond's albums. King Diamond fans will likely find quite a bit to enjoy on this album.

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"The Puppet Master" (Metal Blade; 2003)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

King Diamond's "The Puppet Master" is one of the veteran singer's better releases for a number of reasons:

1) His trademark falsetto, for the most part, takes a backseat throughout this recording, appearing mostly in the chorus. Those who have found King Diamond's particular style annoying in the past (me, for example) will find "The Puppet Master" a breath of fresh air. That falsetto is still there, but it's used more sparingly and much more effectively.

2) As are several of King Diamond's recordings, "The Puppet Master" is a concept album. Set in 18th Century Budapest, "The Puppet Master" tells the tale of a puppet show and a mysterious string of murders. The CD plays like a heavy metal version of the soundtrack to Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera." It's dark, eerie and it tells its tale well. "The Puppet Master" brings to mind some of Alice Cooper's best concept albums and that's definitely a good thing. The lyrics tell the tale completely, explicitly and beautifully. 

3) The songs are well-written and extremely well-performed. The band is dead-on tight and Andy LaRocque and Mike Wead lay down some killer solos. Plus, the production is of the highest quality, perfectly balanced and clear.

The foreword printed in the CD booklet is contrived and silly, reading:  "You cannot make puppets out of dead people's bodies and bring them back to life for real. Even if you could, DON'T TRY!" Yeah, thanks for the advice. Still, if that's my worst complaint about "The Puppet Master," that tells you what a strong album it is. Fans of King Diamond should be thrilled with this latest chapter and those who have avoided the band in the past may very well still find this CD to their liking.

Performing on "The Puppet Master" are: King Diamond - vocals, keyboards; Andy LaRocque - guitars and keyboards; Mike Wead - guitars; Hal Patrino - bass; Matt Thompson - drums.

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"Abigail II: The Revenge" (Metal Blade; 2002)

Reviewed by Rose Grech

Those who know and are fans of King Diamond's rare musical talents will be ecstatic to hear the sequel to the 15 year old famous "Abigail" album, entitled "Abigail II: The Revenge."

But those who are unfamiliar with Diamond's twisted style will need a recap before attempting this new release. And there is a lot of history to cover. 

In 1987, Diamond's second CD, "Abigail," introduced the world to the infant Abigail and told a story of betrayal, evil possession, warning specters, loyal servants, murder and Abigail's inevitable death. Yet, the question still remained was Abigail born to die?

Through lyrical connection they answer this question with "Abigail II: The Revenge." As you travel throughout the mansion Le Fay, the story will progress and the terror will become much clearer. So there is a need to pay heavy attention to the lyrics because, as the songs go on, the story unfolds. 

Diamond draws on his grim outlook of the classic horror tale and makes it a part of his music. He uses his haunting and powerful signature vocal style, which is horribly annoying, to enhance the stories he tells.

In this album, they introduced a new drummer. Also back in the lineup is long time bassist Hal Pinto who appeared on the original "Abigail."

In the beginning, Diamond's music was fresh, unconventional-sounding, unique and incredibly effective formula of story telling. Ultimately they were the core influence on Black Metal.  However, now the songs, ideas and riffs sound incredibly similar and overdone. True fans will like the fact that Diamond refused to deviate from their original musical path.

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"20 Years Ago: A Night of Rehearsal" with Black Rose (Metal Blade; 2001)

Reviewed by Keith Guillotine

I've never been a big fan of King Diamond, so I thought this would be a challenge for me to be completely unbiased. This recording was made back before King Diamond became the solo artist known as King Diamond, before Mercyful Fate. 

The title of this CD makes it clear: "20 Years Ago." Sounds more like 30 years. In deference to the band (and slightly remembering the music of 70s), I can definitely say this is better than disco. But then again, what wasn't!

Now, had I been reviewing this CD thirty years ago I might say, "Great"! There's an early Deep Purple/Three Dog Night influence to it. But in today's music climate, I wouldn't give it a second chance. If you like the older metal music from 1968-1977 - or if you're a fan of King Diamond and want to have a complete collection - then check out this raw "garage band" sound. If not, don't bother.

Black Rose was: King Diamond - Lead Vocals; Jorn Bittcher - Lead Guitar; Ib Enemark - Organ & Moog; Jesper Weber - Bass; Kurt Jurgens - Drums

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"House of God" (Metal Blade; 2000)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

King Diamond has managed to make a distinct musical career outside of Mercyful Fate with a mix of classic true metal with power metal overtones and a gothic tang to keep things interesting.

King Diamond's latest effort, "House Of God," continues this other career in a positive trajectory. "House Of God" evolves as a story with songs and musical vignettes strung together like scenes in a movie. Although a CD can never replace the theatrics of a King Diamond show one does get the sense of drama usually not found on other CDs.

I'm not particularly fond of the falsetto voice of King Diamond, but I am impressed by his vocal range. The lyrics find their genesis about a church in southern France which local myth says God actually lived in.  Each new King Diamond CD has had an ever-increasing complex story line and "House Of God" is no exception. As usual, the lyrics shade toward the occult and supernatural - the story line is quite literate and the mental images it creates are amazing. 

Killer tracks are hard to pick as each song has an integral part to the story; the music does a great job conveying the mood of the storyline.  "House Of God" finds a happy medium between the halcyon days of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden with the more current dark side of the heavy metal genre. Twin guitar harmonies and leads complement the prudent use of instrumentation. As far as concept albums go, "House Of God" will likely be remembered as an important part of the new millennium.

If you are already a fan of King Diamond or Mercyful Fate then it is likely you've already added this to your collection. If you are a fan of the classic heavy metal form (Iron Maiden, Iced Earth) but still haven't heard King Diamond then you'd likely be impressed with "House Of God."

"House Of God" was produced by King Diamond, Andy LaRocque (At The Gates, Midvinter), and Kol Marshall (See No Evil). 

King Diamond played keyboards and sang all vocals; King Diamond was supported by Andy Larocque and Glen Drover on guitars, David Harbour on bass, and John Herbert on drums. 

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2007 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11 Sep 2023 21:35:58 -0400.