Most metal fans know the Dane Kim Bendix Petersen by a different name than his birth name, but most of us have at least heard of him. Many of us respect his work greatly and consider it a part of our induction into heavy metal, although this was of course when he was the singer in Mercyful Fate, a band which was hugely influential on not bands like Metallica, Slayer and Pantera, but also a multitude of black metal bands.
King Diamond and the rest of Mercyful Fate created music, which has gone into metal history and is consistently admired by musicians and fans alike, but to be honest, I always liked his solo albums better than the Mercyful stuff. To me, it was less shrill, had a darker expression. I think ‘Abigail’ (1987), ‘Them’ (1988) and ‘Conspiracy’ (1989) by far are the best albums King has released over the years, although ‘Don’t Break the Oath’ is also a tremendous album in my humble opinion.
Metal Blade Records are now reissuing King Diamond’s 1995 effort ‘The Spider’s Lullabye’, re-mastered by King’s trustful aide, Andy LaRocque, just in time for the Christmas trees out there. The release includes four demo versions from the Spider’s sessions.
‘The Spider’s Lullabye’ never was one of my favourite King Diamond albums. This is not due to the album being bad. Not at all. The explanation should probably be found in the directions of my interests around 1995. Fear Factory were big for me. Type O Negative, Cathedral, Life of Agony, Carcass, Death, Deicide, Faith No More, Morbid Angel, White Zombie, Moonspell, Paradise Lost and Trouble. These bands took up most of my ear-space. I still loved the releases I mentioned above, but I didn’t seek out King Diamond the same way I’d done six or seven years before, although I did purchase the disc, collector as I was/am.
Listening to the album again, you can’t deny the fact that King and LaRocque are strong composers. There is a foundational craftsmanship, which is simply in place in everything they do. Not all songs have the catchy element you’d want, and perhaps you don’t agree with King’s vocal style, but that said aside, even the lesser King Diamond albums are strong releases.
So is ‘The Spider’s Lullabye’.
Listen for example to album opener From the Other Side, a typical up-tempo piece with lots of energy and melodic soloing by LaRocque. And there is To the Morgue, the conclusion of the album proper. One of the heavier tunes King has made over the years, catchy and with a great flow. Also the title track of the album, with its cembalo theme (again typical for King) and almost proggy build-up, is a song you can’t really circumvent if you’re putting together a best-of collection of King Diamond tunes.
The inclusion of the four demo songs is a nice little extra. Supposedly, this is King himself doing everything, LaRocque adding nothing but solos. The demo songs are of course raw, but it certainly gives you an idea how focused the man is on this ideas and just how complete they are before the band actually enters the studio. Kind of impressive, I’d say.
If you’re considering beginning to listen to King Diamond, ‘The Spider’s Lullabye’ is an alright place to begin, but I’d have to suggest you to listen to ‘Abigail’, ‘Them’ and ‘Conspiracy’ immediately afterwards. They are the reference works.
01. From the Other Side
03. The Poltergeist
06. Six Feet Under
07. The Spider’s Lullabye
08. Eastmann’s Cure
09. Room 17
10. To the Morgue
11. Moonlight (demo)
12. From the Other Side (demo)
13. The Spider’s Lullabye (demo)
14. Dreams (demo)
Playing time: 64 minutes
Release date: 27th of November, 2015
Label: Metal Blade Records