The Best King Diamond Album

The best King Diamond album is obviously Conspiracy

I’m a pretty girl!

KD’s vox on this one are really out of sight. It’s like if you took the best of Rob Halford and Dave Mustaine and Ihsahn and mixed them up, you’d get the vocals on this one. King, as he often does on his albums, narrates and does different voices in the story. So he’s all over the place. The falsetto harmonies are absolutely gorgeous on this one, and are executed so flawlessly they weave a smooth, thick fabric of sound. Some of his screams really fucking blow you away and to top it off, the composition is top-notch all the way through the album. Every King album has its moments, but this one just never stops. Every time it starts playing, I think I’m going to turn it off but I just can’t. Every song is too good — the pacing and thematic delivery is too well thought-out, the choruses are too catchy, the verses too progressive, the solos…my good-guillotine — the. so. lo. s!

Andy LaRoque and Pete Blakk play some mean metal guitar on this one. No, they play some sinister guitar. Actually, you know what? Let’s just be retarded and call it some smokin’ guitar, okay? For those of you still reading, Andy LaRoque and the range of other lead guitar players that have accompanied him on KD albums always know how to make their playing beautiful, haunting and sort of… desperate sounding. Their playing is just, frenetic, caustic, but amazingly precise somehow, kind of like on Racer X, Cacophony or Judas Priest‘s better moments (Do you get it? I like Turbo).

The composition is probably the tightest it’s ever been on his albums, the most inspired. This album is a highlight in the history of heavy metal and rock ‘n roll. King Diamond seems to lay just below the mainstream radar (which is fine) due to his satanic affiliations, his horror motifs, his constant flow of concept albums and the persistent falsetto howls, which some people seem to hate (who are you people?!) or take to be utterly hilarious. I’ll admit I thought it was funny when I first heard it, and while he does a lot of stuff tongue-in-cheek, he manages to win everyone over with his charming persona and sense of humor. Some of the lines in his albums are fucking classic, and not to mention some of his music videos. Like…in “The Family Ghost”, the way Andy is wearing the Yngwie uniform and playing his guitar and acting all nancy-boy. Oh shit, that is top-notch. Or how about when KD is floating around the room in the video to “Welcome Home”? Or the dopey, vanilla kid who plays him? You gotta see the Beavis & Butthead episodes about him.

Listen to this one first!

Concept-wise, Conspiracy is the proper sequel to the previous album, Them. Them begins with King’s Grandmother coming home from the sanitarium to stay with the family again. She was hospitalized for being crazy, but it turns out she’s long been possessed by “them”, the sinister beings who live in the attic. King and his sister are kids in this story. It all sounds funny enough when you listen to the album and can only pick out the emphasized parts (“Grand-maaaaaa, welcome ho-ome!”, “It is time for tea…”) so people think it’s a joke, but the story is pretty freaky if you go and read the lyrics. However, there are some hilarious things, like on the Roadrunner remastered CD release, there’s the extra track, “The Phone Call” which is between King and his Grandma. Jolly good fun!

I don’t want to spoil the story of Them or the sequel, but Conspiracy begins with King as an adult, getting out of the sanitarium himself and trying to make sense of what happened all those years ago. He revisits the house and has to come to terms with his actions and finds that “they” are still there. This story also involves a doctor. I think King knows what’s up (in real life).

Here’s “Welcome Home” from Them. This is the song they used in the movie Clerks 2 (or so I’ve heard). The lead guitar work on King Diamond albums is some of the best found in metal, really.

Here’s the single from the Conspiracy album, “Sleepless Nights”. Notice that it’s cut down by like a minute or so. They cut out half of the solo as well as the ambiance at the end. I don’t like this video that much, but the way they’re hanging out in the misty fenced in graveyard is pretty goofy.

This is metal/rock history. One of the best and most unique (set of) albums around.

Some fun facts:

+ There was an official promo comic-book made of Conspiracy using King’s lyrics to the story in the dialogue and narration. Particularly vivid is the scene where King is in the doctor’s office and he offers up gems like “I should’ve taken the stethoscope and shoved it down his throat!”. Although I saw the comic once when I was a kid, unfortunately I have not come across it anywhere again – not on the internet nor anywhere else, nor have any other fans seem to have heard of it. If anyone’s seen it, drop a line.

+ King Diamond was actually sued by KISS when Conspiracy came out, for purportedly ripping off their make-up. My friend remarked that had King had to testify in court, he should’ve been like “I quote from my latest album when I say: Con-spir-acy, con-spir-acy. I am being vic-tim-ized.”

Voodooam ghost. HUNGRY!

+ The first KD album I bought was Abigail and I bought it at the Virgin Records megastore in downtown New Orleans back in 1999 or thereabouts. I remember reading the lyrics about Abigail eating her way out of the… well, and being totally horrified. Although it might have been because I was in New Orleans, which is haunted, dirty and downright disturbing. Too bad I didn’t get Voodoo, now that I think about it. That’s probably exactly where King wanted people to buy it (it takes place in Louisiana, guys).

+ You know, I actually brought the previous album, Them, into my music theory class in high school to play during the class (our teacher let everyone do this once a semester). My teacher was very vocal about how much he thought it sucked (which he never did with anything/anyone else) and actually kicked me out of the class soon after. Conspiracy?


~ by chaosrexmachinae on November 25, 2007.

17 Responses to “The Best King Diamond Album”

  1. […] I said before, the best album is obviously Conspiracy. Although really, the back-to-back stream of albums, Abigail, Them, Conspiracy and The Eye are all borderline masterpieces. Conspiracy is just the one that stands out with the best flow or smoothly changing dynamics. Conspiracy also doesn’t start out with some two minute-long introduction track where King does like ten different voices and uses twenty different Casio patches. Those are cool, but I only listen to them like 25% of the times I put them albums on. […]

  2. i found the conspiracy comic!

    theres 4 patrs, its pretty cool \m/

    • Hey guys, this shut is unreal!!!
      Can’t believe Kingsy is still going.
      Never bought any MF but heard heaps and
      Liked some tracks.
      I was mainly a KD fan.
      Bought my first KD album in ’87.
      I still have it. Abigail pic disc. Awesome.
      I only have the first three on vinyl and conspiracy on CD. I also bought Abigail on disc about 6 or 7 years ago and Abigail 2 which I didn’t think much of.
      Initially, I thought Conspiracy was the best when it came out but overall, without doubt Abigail was the best. Starting with Funeral and then ripping into Arrival was unreal!!!
      Oh, I just remembered I have the dark sides EP as well. The Shrine, which was recorded during the Abigail sessions is a fucking killer but never made the Abigail album as it didn’t fit into the story.
      Graham, would love to hear your cover band. I must say I have been in a number of bands and I was heavily influenced by the King. I had the falsettos nail with most of his tracks!
      Anyway guys, rock on!!!

  3. Dude NO WAY. Spider is way better than Conspiracy. Fatal Portrait is way better, so is THE EYE.

  4. Thanks for the link, good dude

    • Hey dude, I posted a reply meant for you and Graham regarding King Diamond but accidentally replied to a Jacob instead. Anyway, have a read and get back to me.

  5. WRONG.

    Abigail is clearly, clearly, CLEARLY, the best King Diamond album.
    A metal classic. Such atmosphere, musicianship and beauty.
    Conspiracy isn’t even half the record that abigail is.

  6. I agree that Abigail has some of the best atmosphere of their recordings and some of the best standout King Diamond tracks ever written/recorded. I also really like the trilogy of songs on Fatal Portrait for that.

    But those albums have some weak tracks. Conspiracy has strong playing and songwriting all the way through and is the album where King and Andy really perfect their sound completely.

  7. All the albums of King Diamond before Pete left are masterpieces. Probably the best one is Them. Which I think is the heaviest and most melodic.
    To be honest, I discovered King Diamond whilst being a fan of Death and Andy played on one of Death’s album.

  8. While I have to agree with you that “Conspiracy” gets high marks for musicianship and atmosphere, I honestly don’t think that the songs themselves can compete with the classics from “Fatal Portrait”, “Abigail” or “Them.” Don’t get me wrong here, I think “Conspiracy” is a phenomenal record, and years ago, it used to be my favourite, but these days, I have to say that for me, it’s a toss-up between “Abigail” and “Them” for best King Diamond record of all time. You say you bought your first King Diamond album in 1999. I probably picked up Mercyful Fate’s “Melissa” in 1992 or so, just before they reunited and released “In The Shadows.” Immediately after listening to “Melissa”, it became my mission in life to get ahold of every record that Mercyful Fate and King Diamond have ever released. To make a long story short, to take such an illustrious career and try to break it down and analyse it is practically impossible. All the albums have character and merits of their own, but if we’re talking about which record ought to hold the title of quintessential, must have King Diamond record, then I would probably have to go with “Abigail” I know that most King Diamond fans say that, but I’ll tell you why it really is true. “Fatal Portrait” was an absolutely brilliant debut, it let the Mercyful Fate fans know that King Diamond was still doing great stuff, Andy La Rocque and Michael Denner as a guitar duo were pretty amazing. But “Fatal Portrait” was rushed, a lot of the production isn’t the best and other than “Halloween”, there really weren’t many tracks from that record that went on to become live staples. Wheras with “Abigail”, the atmosphere, the mood, the story, the riffs, the songs, everything just comes together so well. La Rocque and Denner had come into their own more as guitarists and as a duo, the songs were layered and arranged so much better. The story, the lyrics, the characters were so well thought out and everything just fit in a way that I don’t think any future King Diamond record was ever able to quite nail in that same way ever again. As a guitar player in a Mercyful Fate/King Diamond cover band, I would have to admit that Mercyful Fate is in my opinion the better band and I think the first two MF records are the best albums King has ever been involved with. That being said, KD is so different from MF in so many ways, King himself writes more than two thirds of the music where in MF Shermann is the major songwriter with occasional help from King and Denner or Wead. I think “Them” is the best produced record and I really like the lead breaks on that album. La Rocque and Pete Blakk meshed a lot better than La Rocque/Denner. But “Them” doesn’t have the same memorable riffs that “Abigail” has, and even later stuff like “The Eye” is unbelievably good when it comes to the guitar playing strictly. I think an easier decision to make is which is the weakest record and for that my answer is “The Spider’s Lullabye” It sounds incoherent, it doesn’t gel as well as the others, the band was on hiatus for five years and that was what they came up with. It’s got some cool stuff on it, but definitely the weakest as far as composition and solos are concerned. Lyrically, it’s not really a contender when you look at the other storylines either. So there you have it, I think “Conspiracy” is easily one of the heaviest KD albums and “A Visit From The Dead” is easily one of the most beautiful KD songs ever, but it jyst can’t hold its own against the monster that is “Abigail” and even its predecessor “Them” blows it out of the water in my book. Anyway, thanks for posting, matey. Good to know there are other Diamond bangers out there who spend time debating the important questions like me. Rock on friend.

  9. Holy smokes dude, that was longer than my post. Do you have a link to your band?

    • Yeah, sorry for getting a bit wordy there, mate. What can I say, Mercyful Fate and King Diamond are my greatest musical passions and I sometimes tend to do that. It’s always great to meet another Diamond Banger. Again thanks for posting! No, no link to my band. I recently moved overseas so I’ve been doing only 4-track recording for a while. Whenever I get myself sorted enough to post some stuff I’ll be sure to hit you up. Do you play by any chance? Long distance recording and mixing is a tactic we sometimes need to resort to if we want to keep this kind of music alive. Mercyful Fate has actually been doing that for years now. The “In The Shadows” record was written that way. Anyway, be well, friend. Talk soon.

  10. The Best 80’s album would have to be Abigail. The best 90’s album would have to be The Graveyard. Best 00’s album would have to be….Give me your soul please? I dunno..Don’t have a Favorite 00’s album

  11. Goodness me, people still talking about this business even now (I just looked how recent the posts were). I’m an old King Diamond/MF fan. I used to be nuts about it in the way that he seems to inspire in some people. I don’t really listen to it much anymore (just the occasional youtube of a classic here and there at work). However more than any metal I ever listened to, I still feel the King classics were really something quite special in the history of music. To me these are Them and Abigail. I used to react against people saying how great Abigail was and tended to purport to prefer Them, nowadays I’m not quite so sure. That doesn’t mean I concede to Abigail, but rather I’m just forced to recognise how ridiculously good it is. It’s truely a masterpiece in every sense, the melody, the harmony, the song construction, the story, the releasing solo at the end of Dark Horsemen, its absolutely breathtaking. Them on the other hand has that weird production to it which marks it out from all other KD records, it has Welcome Home which is possibly his best song ever, a riff that literally synaesthesically sounds like the house on the front (ok to me I conceded). Tea, Bye Bye Missy, its stupendous and very very weird. I’m lost between the two really. I suppose I believe that because Them lost the sound that emanated from MF (which you can still hear in Fatal Portrait and Abigail) it was actually partially responsible for KD not reaching a bigger audience, the reason Them charted so highly was in anticipation of another Abigail level record (Abigail was received with massive praise in all the metal mags, Them not so well). I think if he had produced another record with that kind of melodic underpinning he might have been a bigger thing. But he didn’t, he made Them, which is really its own thing entirely, though absolutley incredible for it. I suppose in my wittering what I mean a it is, I find them so incredibly different its very hard for me to compare. One thing I would say is that I cannot credit Conspiracy with being of equal status to either of those. Conspiracy is also its own thing, a strange kind of record with more formulaic choruses not so well embedded in the songs. It has some incredible moments, ‘icy fingers all over my hands’ is a killer melody and the chorus Amon is stupendous too. But for me its let down by a kind of obviousness and a poor story. Those first four are the best for me with the two I’ve mentioned jostling for first place. Other highlights for me have been parts of House of God and parts of the Graveyard and the odd song on Abigail 2. I haven’t listened to these in the same way I used to when I was younger so they might have more appeal to more recent listeners. My KdMF catalogue really goes up to conspiracy and then tails off, I was never much impressed with the eye…
    nice to read it all, thanks

  12. hey Graham, thanks for chiming in!

    I know what you mean about the sound changing on ‘Them’ and subsequent releases, I’d guess that was natural, and necessary for KD to establish himself as a solo artist in contrast to Mercyful Fate. I also would wager that had a lot to do with Andy LaRocque’s co-writing. KD has always been an artist true to his own interests and vision, not mainly interested in mainstream commercial success, as far as I can tell from his work and interviews anyway.

    Although I’m not sure I necessarily prefer ‘Conspiracy’ over his earlier works, I think it is overall the strongest album, without a single throw-away track, and some of the most progressive (yet succinct) songwriting in his catalog. I also am surprised you think the choruses are obvious… some of the lines, hooks and transitions in songs like “Lies” or “Visit From the Dead” are subtle and show the group’s serious progress as composers, beyond stapling together riffs, like a handful of songs on the first two albums. Plus, lyrically, great delivery on lines such as “I wanted to take the stethoscope, and shove it down his throat!” or “All the flowers and all the trees, feel like they’re inside of me” and “I will send you a dream”. I just don’t see what’s to dislike! He inserts the occult elements without name-dropping or referencing anything (the boring Satan crap most bands use) and does an interesting contrast with the role of the doctor as a modern-day church inquisitor. Not to mention, Andy’s instrumental on this album is one of the most haunting and curious ones on any KD album!

    I think ‘The Eye’ is worth a second look as well. Songs like “Father Picard” and “Behind these Walls” are really intuitive, effective song-writing, and tread a line between horror and weird humor that is really theatrically effective (I guess he always did this, but lines like “drink my sweet holy wine!” when talking about a historical sexually abusive inquisitor always get me).

    Everyone has their own opinions of course! And I do agree, moments of ‘House of God’ and ‘The Puppet Master’ are really brilliant as well. I have a couple of friends who only got into King Diamond through the latter!

    • It’s impossible to say what it is (about the chorus blend issue), I can only reply that it’s the way it struck me. The fact you interpret the conspiracy choruses as blended is really interesting and makes me reflect upon my own interpretation. If I suppose I think about some ‘them’ choruses, I can reconceive how they might also be perceived as sticky outy (tea is pretty obvious) however as I encountered the record I never once perceived them in that way, yet when conspiracy came out both sleepless nights and visit from the dead struck me really sticky out choruses in a way that, I suppose offended me, compared to my perception of the seamless blending of abigail and them (and to be fair fatal portrait too in places, the jonah for instance goes all over the place and conceals its structure well). I think that’s what I really enjoyed about king diamond songs in many ways, the way the narrative seemed reflected in what seemed like almost continually changing music, and conspiracy to me, laid these structures out too barely (in places) and wasn’t produced in as original a manner as its predecessors (and I thought the story was really weak). I never had sense of riff stapling on these earlier KD albums however it did increase as we get further from these earlier releases (I feel it happens in the song conspiracy and towards the end of at the graves and maybe a little in visit from the dead). Having said all of this, I loved conspiracy when it came out and for a while did rate it as yet a further improvement on the previous releases. It has such stunning high points (as I mentioned previously the ‘all over my hands’ shivers me still), its truly fantastic and its completely weird to me that king diamond exists at all in the catalogue of music that exists, and is so ridiculously good (I don’t think its delusional fandom entirely, its so stupidly well crafted).
      I couldn’t however grasp the eye or why it was hailed as a return to forum by some (I certainly thought conspiracy shat all over it). I don’t think the eye has a single track that I think is fantastic, its just good. I did like father picard and a couple of others but it wasn’t in the same league. I haven’t heard puppet master but house of god seems to have some really fantastic bits to it that I would consider of a level, the title track being one of them and curiously help I like a lot, though it kind of makes me laugh.
      Its really interesting for you to confirm this idea that some people might have got into it by later albums only. I would have thought it must be incredible to come across a later album and then check out the back catalogue to see how good it was then, but maybe to a fresh listener it just isn’t like that and newer well received albums like puppet master are just as good, I remember reading one review somewhere with the person saying they like abigail two better than the first -madness as far as I can see, but there you go…

  13. I use to have the promo king diamond conspiracy comic .I believe it came with the cd.I would love to have it again.also had the nfl comic of king.

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