Sunday, March 30, 2014

King Diamond - Conspiracy

At the end of King Diamond's most successful album to date, 1988's "Them", we hear what could be synonymous to a "to be continued" in the track "Coming Home." Once again, King Diamond does not let another year end without releasing the follow up, Conspiracy, which just happened to be the sequel to "Them." So four consecutive album in four years. And not just albums but masterpieces in their own rite. Conceptually, Conspiracy picks up where "Them" left off with King returning to the old house and to '"Them."' The album is just more of the same for King Diamond, an absolute perfect album full of killer riffs, quality solos and epic songwriting. The revolving door that King seemed to be experiencing has spun around again as Mikkey Dee left to join Don Dokken's band and then ultimately land in Motorhead. However, he did appear as a guest on the album so we get to hear Mikkey's flawless drumming with King one last time.

The opener, "At The Graves" is just an absolute epic song that starts with King singing along with some eerie synthesizer "music box" sounds apparently speaking to the spirit if his little sister, "Missy." Then the guitars kick in leading to the riffs. The production on this one is a bit different than the previous three. The guitars are more up front as well as King's vocals seem to have less effects. This takes away from that special atmosphere the previous albums had but not enough to make this any less perfect. The song is long, 8:56 in length but not overlong. The solos are as expected, pure magic and precision. Since the guitars are more up front in this mix, the solos are mixed much clearer and you can really here the musicianship of these two guitarists. Andy La Rocque and Pete Blakk compliment each other as they trade off solos. "Sleepless Nights" follows and is probably the second most notable song by King due to some air play for the video to this song on MTV. This is a straight ahead metal rocker with huge riffs and solos....killer never ending solos. This album should be considered essential to any guitar shredder out there...metal or not.

Once again, King Diamond has created an album that defines heavy metal, once again raising the bar for the rest of the genre. This album goes in a more traditional direction with just crushing riff work as shown on songs like "Lies, '"Amon" Belongs to "Them",' and "Victimized." As for King's vocals, he never sounded better. As I said before, his voice sounds better due to the mix. I remember an interview I read when this album first came out that King purposely did a more straight forward mix on his voice this time around. "What you hear is more of my voice," he had said. You also have epic songs like "A Visit from the Dead," and "The Wedding Dream." The former starting with some clean guitars and King's softer falsetto then leading into epic riffs, soaring vocals and massive solos. The latter starting out with some church organ sounding keys leading to some of King's best non falsetto vocals. This song is huge as well as being epic.  "Something Weird" is probably the only interlude song I still listen to. It's eerie and hypnotizing. The closer is mostly instrumental and is a fitting end to another amazing album.

How does King do this and, more importantly, why aren't their more people recognizing the pure talent in this band? Not only being more prolific than many bands of his time but creating perfect albums, not just contract obligations. The number one thing I hear when there are any King Diamond detractors out there is his vocals, more accurately, the falsettos. Rob Halford was doing it, what was it about King that turned so many off? Isn't his vocals the epitome of heavy metal? And King wasn't done because in a little over a year later King releases the follow up to this be continued....


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