Jun 152012

How do I know this is the 25th anniversary of King Diamond’s Abigail album? Because our brother in blog Full Metal Attorney has devoted a post to the anniversary on his site today (here). I would add that today is also the first birthday of his twin children, who someday will realize that their old man is way cooler than the daddies of most of their friends.

FMA’s post about this album makes me feel even more ignorant than I normally feel, which is saying something since NormallyIgnorant is one of my middle names. I feel more than normally ignorant because, despite the fact that FMA calls Abigail “one of the most beloved metal albums of all time”, I’ve never heard it. In fact, I’ve never heard any King Diamond album, though I’ve heard scattered songs here and there. Maybe I listened to the wrong scattered songs, because they never sent me into a rush to discover more of the band’s music, and that’s been true despite the iconic status of Mercyful Fate.

According to FMA, Abigail “has some of the best songwriting and performances of any metal record, ever, by everyone involved. And a creepy horror story to go along with it.” With praise like that, I felt compelled to check out two of the songs from Abigail to which FMA devoted particular praise — “The 7th Day of July 1777″ and the title track.

I must say, the acoustic + synth intro to “1777″ was very cool, as was the riffing that followed it . . . and then I remembered why I never dived deeper into the music: THAT VOICE!!

Egad, that falsetto eruption came damned close to making me rip the headphones off and fling them against the floor. With all due respect for FMA, notwithstanding the nice solo and the catchy riffing, I just can’t get past those vocals. I mean, I don’t enjoy the sound of a small girl crying/whining under any circumstances, but ESPECIALLY not in a metal song.

Nevertheless, I gritted my teeth and listed (I meant listened) to “Abigail”. More nice riffing/soloing . . . and more comical falsetto vocals that made me grit my teeth in agony, which were not made better by the accompaniment of cackling laughter and the strangled grunting. I’m also not loving the keyboard bombast near the song’s end.

Okay, I’ve made my confession. Am I committing unpardonable heresy or do I have good taste?  Comments, if you please.
 

 

 

 

59 Responses to “TODAY IS THE 25th ANNIVERSARY OF “ABIGAIL” BY KING DIAMOND”

  1. arsafes says:

    i join you in your heresy :D

  2. WKnapik says:

    No heresy commited. I remember King Diamond always being devisive, even at his peak. I don’t know if anyone can question the caliber of musician he tends to surround himself with. The falsetto is another story. I always grudgingly accepted it because everything else about his music was so fantastic.

  3. Quigs says:

    I’ve personally always loved King Diamond’s voice and think he is incredibly expressive, but I can understand why some people are not keen.

    • Orsaeth says:

      Fully agreed. I didn’t really like his voice at first either, though I’ve really come to like it. He isn’t the best falsetto out there, but his voice really matches the ghostly quality of the music.

      • SurgicalBrute says:

        I think you hit the nail with that comment…his voice perfectly matches the atmosphere of his albums

  4. GD says:

    It is not heresy. I will not recant!

  5. SurgicalBrute says:

    Heresy…Im not a fan of clean singing by any means, but King Diamond/Mercyful Fate is freaking awesome

  6. Nice write-up!

    This is not from the best source, but MTV’s page on him starts out with “Widely regarded as the finest vocalist in all of metal,” and I agree that (a) he is the finest vocalist in all of metal, and (b) he is widely regarded as such, moreso than any other individual vocalist. If you polled all metal fans who are reasonably well-educated about metal (i.e., metal doesn’t begin and end with the mainstream for them) you will get more votes for KD than for any other, with Halford and Dickinson coming in second and third, respectively. That’s my sense, anyway.

    That said, he is divisive, and I understand that to a degree. He would probably get a lot of votes in a poll for the worst vocalist in metal, too. At first, his style was a turnoff for me as well. But I soon came to love it, and now it’s difficult for me to get into the mindset of a person who doesn’t “get” it. It was like a switch was turned, and I went from kind of laughing at it to fully embracing and loving it in an instant.

    If you can, listen to Melissa, Don’t Break the Oath, and Abigail through completely, twice each, within the span of a month, and I’m sure you’ll come around. That might be too much to ask, but I think it’s worth it.

  7. BadWolf says:

    Heresy. King Diamond is a genius. but in fairness, the voice being hard to listen to is part of the point.

    But Abigail is not where to start.

    Start with the Mercyful Fate song “Nuns Have No Fun” and then proceed to “Melissa.” :)

  8. I am with you on this, Islander. I recognize King Diamond’s importance, and I can appreciate some vocalists who are not everyone’s cup of tea (Les Claypool, the guy from Billy Talent), but King Diamond grates on my nerves and ruins my enjoyment of the music. You may now label me a heretic.

    • Islander says:

      Yay! I was starting to feel outnumbered.

    • ACoffinShip says:

      I’m not a King Diamond fan but man I cannot handle Claypool at all. To the point I legitimately can’t figure out why he didn’t just bring in a frontman who can actually sing. Maybe I’m just starting in the wrong place in his career, I don’t know.

      Then again, I’m also a heretic. I can make my way through a Mercyful Fate album but it’s more despite Diamond’s vocals than because of them.

  9. Inquisitor says:

    Definitely heresy. The King is a legend, and Abigail is a masterpiece. I would refrain from expressing your opinion on this matter again, lest you be driven from the Internet by the true-metal hordes.

  10. I loved Priest’s Painkiller, so I picked up one a King Diamond best of or something like that a few years ago. I think I listened to it a few times, but his voice just never really worked for me. Which is weird, because I quite liked the most recent Lizzy Borden (Appointment with Death) and his voice is balls-retractingly high.

    Although, let’s be honest, all these falsetto singers just want to be Baby Metal.

  11. ElvisShotJFK says:

    Hail to the King, baby!

    Okay, so I don’t worship KD/MF without question and I must disagree with FMA’s assessment that King would top the list of vocalists in a poll; I would think that the likes of Dickinson, Halford and Dio would come before him as better voices, while I think Ozzy would get a nod because, fuck, he’s Ozzy (oh, and he did have a decent voice and can still get it done now – as long as he hasn’t been on the road for too long). That’s not to say that King wouldn’t be on a list of great metal vocalists, especially if you polled metalheads who grew up and/or were listening in the 80′s and 90′s.

    While never a big fan, I’ve gotten used to his falsetto over the years and thus can take more than a song or two at a time. As already stated, it works for the style of music he’s providing the voice for. Not everyone can get away with falsetto or simply a higher register, just as some bands do sound silly on the low even of the vocal spectrum. Fortunately, when someone covers KD or MF, they don’t go for King’s style of singing unless they can absolutely nail it – see Eidolon’s cover of “The Oath”, for example, as opposed to Metallica doing their MF tribute without falsetto from James Hetfield.

    Whether you like the vocals or not, Abigail is one of those defining (if a bit divisive) albums that are held in high regard for a reason. To be honest, I’m not really sure how to accurately descibe how it sounds, much like anything from Mercyful Fate. It has stuff from multiple sub-genres rolled into one, sung by gremlim with a painted white face who sings into a microphone attached to a pair of bones. I don’t know if King is/was a Alice Cooper fan, but it’s hard to imagine anything but; I am pretty sure that King Diamond did not develop his stage presence using KISS as an example. Even assuming there’s some Cooper in there, King made it his own and is far from being an imitation.

    So, back to your question. Is your ignorance of King Diamond’s work heresy? No, I don’t think so. There’s so much metal out there to be able to listen to a little bit of everything, much less actually become a fan. I see no shame in not digging what he’s done – there are probably bands and vocalists that you like that you feel are underappreciated. I’m not asking you to go through marathon sessions with entire albums, but I would still suggest that you check out some more material when you get the chance.

    • Islander says:

      Having started this debate — or rather, continued it from FMA’s site — I’d feel sort of dickish if I didn’t give this more of a chance than I did at the outset. I’m still pondering what would be a fair test, and by fair I mean not something that would consume 4 or 5 hours over the next month (I wouldn’t spend that much time with albums that I actually like, or this site would come to a virtual stop).

      • ElvisShotJFK says:

        I would suggest spending a bit of time at YouTube to get a taste of what all can be heard – just like you can with most any other band with today’s internet. You’ll find that the falsetto isn’t all that he does (and it’s not always the high castrato kind, either), but you will be subject to clean singing. Other than that, I don’t think there’s any other quick way to become more acquainted with the stuff that’s not the usual picks.

      • Try “Buried Alive.” It’s from Mercyful Fate’s last album, 9, and has very little falsetto. He uses it judiciously on that album, and really only plunges fully into it on the first song. That said, I still think something along he lines of “Black Funeral” would be the ideal. You know, like jumping into a pool of chilly water instead of slowly going in.

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