Tag Archives: michael denner

King Diamond’s “Abigail” Hits Its Thirtieth (1987-2017)

Light the candles in the study as we open the arcane tomes in celebration of King Diamond’s sophomore album as a solo artist with the seminal work “Abigail”. An album that was released thirty years ago on this very day. It was the King’s second outing as I’ve noted but his first full length concept recording. He touched upon his sinister storytelling with “Fatal Portrait” on a few numbers but with “Abigail” a terrible tale was woven across each and every track. You can read more about the whole premise and the finer details down on the official Wikipedia entry as I always include them here.

At the time of the original release I must admit that I was not listening to much that King Diamond was dishing out. I was a very latecomer to Mercyful Fate and while some of their stuff intrigued me back then, I always felt it was a bit much for me and I leaned more towards the building Power Metal genre. It wouldn’t be until King’s “Them” album that I immersed myself more into his work. As I listened to the release once more for its anniversary, it’s amazing to find that it still holds up really well and still sends chills down your spine as the tale plays out. The whole album was written by King but guitarists Andy LaRoque and Michael Denner tossed their talents into a couple of tracks as well. The band was rounded out by bassist Timi Hansen and drummer Mikkey Dee. Andy and Dee would quickly become a lot of aspiring musicians favorites based on their his skillful playing. The King Diamond band was a quick lock for fans of the Mercyful Fate group based on that bands bassist Hansen and guitarist Denner being in the lineup with the King. Let’s take a look at the original track listing and then toss together our favorites.
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King Diamond’s “Fatal Portrait” Still Gazing Intently At Thirty Years (1986-2016)

The colors on this dark oil painting remain vibrant if it should be observed in the light but that is not always the best setting for the works of the great King Diamond. The malevolence of his creations always seem to come to more sinister life if gazed upon in the shadows and with that being said I must announce that it was thirty years ago today that the world first looked upon the “Fatal Portrait” – the first solo album by King Diamond. Though I remembered seeing it on the shelves of a long shuttered record store named “The Little Record Store”, I didn’t purchase it since this was not really the kind of Metal I was following. Truth be told the King spooked me a little back then along with Fate so I stuck to what I felt was safer stuff like Maiden and Priest. Don’t worry about this admission as I caught on not too long after and made sure I was a quick study. I’ve snagged the albums overall plot from its official Wikipedia entry and it states

“Five songs on this album (first four and “Haunted”) form a short story. Narrator sees a face in “every candle that [he] burns”. This face speaks one word to him: “Jonah”. So he finds an old book, speaks a rhyme and frees the spirit from the candle. It’s the spirit of a little girl named Molly, who tells him her story, that happened seven years before. Mrs. Jane kept her 4-year-old daughter Molly in the attic until she (Molly) died. Before, Mrs. Jane painted Molly’s portrait and put it above the fireplace, so that Molly would become immortal; however, Molly made the portrait speak to her mother, so that Jane would know about Molly’s pain. Mrs. Jane then speaks a rhyme and burns the portrait. A free spirit of Molly returns to haunt her until she goes insane.”

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Mercyful Fate’s “Melissa”; Is Still Sinister As She Wants 2B Thirty Years Later

Truth be told, 1983 seemed to be a banner year in terms of the number of incredible albums that came out. Especially if you were a fan of Heavy Metal music. If you don’t agree with me, just look at the wide and diverse span that we have already seen happening with Motley Crue’s “Shout At The Devil”, KISS’ “Lick It Up”, Def Leppard’s “Pyromania and that little debut from those guys in Metallica called “Kill ‘Em All”. Now it is time to add the debut by Mercyful Fate to the list as “Melissa” celebrates her thirtieth birthday. Now I will admit that while I was digging into my Metal a lot more at this point than I had a few years earlier, the stuff that Fate was doing kind of spooked me. Hey, just look at that sinister cover and you cannot tell me that King Diamond didn’t send a shiver up your spine when you first heard him belt out those insane falsetto notes. In 1983 I had been a KISS fan for years and was still coming to terms with their removing of the makeup and while I was digging what the Crue and Quiet Riot were up to, Mercyful Fate was a little too scary for me. At the moment at least. This viewpoint would change by the second album based on my own musical pursuits and then of course King Diamond would start a prolific solo career but I digress that I am getting a little ahead of myself here. Let’s discuss the overall “Melissa” album and what it did for the Metal genre of the day.
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“A Dangerous Meeting” by King Diamond

Artist: King Diamond
Title: “A Dangerous Meeting”
Label: Roadrunner Records
Release Date: 10/6/1992
Genre: Heavy Metal/Dark Metal
Rating: 4.5/5

You probably don’t need me to tell you this, but both Mercyful Fate and King Diamond are two of the most imposing bands that the Heavy Metal world ever had sharing their dark thoughts with. Of course the two are very connected since the King was Fate’s singer before branching out on his own as a solo performer and while the original band’s world was a very Satanic and dark place to wander, the material that King would present expanded into numerous other sinister realms that were just as horrifying. With this in mind the compilation release from 1992 entitled “A Dangerous Meeting” takes some crucial Mercyful Fate tracks and then leaves the rest to the King Diamond releases of the time. We get a small sample of three of the Mercyful Fate tunes including material from their EP and while some time is paid to their seminal “Melissa” album the title tune itself is not here for the listener’s enjoyment and that was a shame. At seven tunes across two and a half powerful full releases this is only a teaser when it comes down to it. Fans are advised to pick up “Melissa” and “Don’t Break The Oath” to properly indulge in all of the bands original malevolent majesty.
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“The Beginning” (remaster) by Mercyful Fate

Artist: Mercyful Fate
Title: “The Beginning” (remaster)
Label: Roadrunner Records
Release Date: 11/11/1997
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 4/5

It is without question that Mercyful Fate was one of the most important of the Heavy Metal bands to arrive on the scene in 1982; theirs was a sound that was far more along the lines of what Black Metal would become than its cited founders Venom ever could have imagined. Sorcery and Witchcraft and a whopping dose of Satanic themes showed that singer King Diamond was not only imposing as a performer, but very pronounced in his beliefs. The legendary band would only release two official studio albums in their heyday with “Melissa” and “Don’t Break The Oath” before King Diamond would go off to front a band using his name alone and continue to make Heavy Metal history. The release of “The Beginning” is a must have for all fans of Fate and Metal in general for this allows you to enjoy the “Nuns Have No Fun” EP that the group issued in 1982. The raw sound of these four tracks still find Mercyful Fate to be a promising juggernaut for the genre while it was in its infancy.
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