King Diamond - Give me your soul... please 4.5/5
1. The dead
2. Never ending hill
3. Is anybody here?
4. Black of night
5. Mirror, mirror
6. The cellar
7. Pictures in red
8. Give me your soul
9. The floating head
10. Cold as ice
11. Shapes of black
12. The girl in the bloody dress
13. Moving on
If you love King Diamond, this is excellent work, and you shouldn't miss it. There is not a whit hear to disappoint fans of the beloved dark King, and in fact it is a very strong showing overall.
Where we learn that being victim of a heinous crime, and condemned to an undead existence, is no reason to forget your manners....
The grand master of horrific baroque Danish concept metal is back for the 12th studio CD under his solo moniker (with another 9 under the similar and related Mercyful Fate). And concept albums have been the hallmark of this solo career, with only 'Fatal portrait' and 'The spider's lullaby' offering up stories that took less than the entirety of their respective CDs, while the rest embraced a dark and mystical tale for their entire length. When you keep in mind how consistent King has been in terms of style (despite of course some evolution) since Mercyful Fate's 'Melissa', and how prolific he's been, mixed with the fact that his voice and approach are still wholly unique, it's pretty amazing. No band or vocalist out there sounds like this, period, despite the influence his work has had on everything from black metal to power metal in this 25 odd years....
So, with that type of consistent and prolific catalog, unless you are just not a fan of King's voice (the occasional complaint you hear and which there is no way around), one is left with one's own opinions which CDs really stood out over the years, and I'm sure there's a lot of subjective factors that determine into that. While it was exciting and dramatic to hear a continuation (albeit a confusing one) to the Abigail story, the 'Abigail ll' music didn't hit me as powerfully as 'House of God', which seemed really tightly wound metal. 'The puppet master', the most recent work, I found to be very striking, creating a totally new lyrical ambience for his gruesome tale, with basements and moon soaked, snowy streets in Budapest, and really good performances and songs throughout.
The new CD does not offer as original a storyline or setting as 'The puppet master'. Simply put, we have another haunted house (which reminds me of the Abigail-Them-Conspiracy-Voodoo), and troubled spirits. Of course, distilling the entire story accurately is impossible, but the back story is a little boy and girl who've were murdered by their father in the basement, and who tread the line between this world and beyond, and the titular soul in question is one the little girl is trying to find for her brother so he can avoid a more punitive afterlife, because he has been falsely convicted in spiritual court of suicide. This melds into a more current juxtaposition of the same house, where our protagonist, ostensibly King, is disturbed by the supernatural horrors of the house until the little girl makes her appearance in a bloody dress to try and claim his soul.
The musical delivery is absolutely spot on, razor honed, King Diamond at his best. Sometimes King's songs in the past have become a little too involved in telling the dialogue of his stories (for me, 'Abigail ll'), right away and with every inch of the CD we are hit with strong songs and vocal melodies that I just absolutely love! The title track may be the very best of the bunch, just a killer refrain. Awesome stuff, with very good choruses.
The line-up is as consistent as the music. Andy La Rocque, on guitars on every CD all the way back to 'Fatal portrait', is joined by Mike Wead, Hal Patino is on bass, and Matt Thomsen on drums. All are so good, the guitar leads are consistently strong, powerful, and engaging, great sounding riffs, and compelling vocal melodies that are even better layered and harmonized than in the past. The production is very good too; clear, distinct, the sweet sussuration of neo-classical horror metal just as it should be, perfectly presenting the resonant bass and thundering drums of the rhythm section.
Despite a long run by the King of Diamonds himself, outside of King's own music, there's no real style like this represented in metal today. It has a dark and ominous spirit one might associate with black metal but with nothing but beautiful, engaging melodies and full throated, clear, classically-edged metal music; a mastery of songs that are intricate and complex, and yet, quickly memorable and engaging, and while I know his voice doesn't appeal to everyone, King really sounds at the top of his vocal game with sonorous story-telling you won't hear anywhere else. Odds are almost astronomical that you haven't heard King Diamond or Mercyful Fate as a metal fan, so if you have, and you liked it, you can't go wrong with this superb iteration.
“On the other side
I can see... I can feel... The tears in his eyes
The tears that he cries
We need each other
In the darkest of night
I’m moving on to THIS house”
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