King D: the Writer

am ghost. HUNGRY!Let me tell you, I love King Diamond. I cannot get enough of that charming banshee. I know a fair number of people who say they can’t listen to his vocals because they think the intense falsetto is supposed to be a joke or something. But those people are insecure. And they are missing out on the gorgeous, saccharine harmonies of the King. And none of this is ironic! King Diamond’s vocals are dramatic, awesome, colorful, gorgeous, haunting and eerie, as well as charming in their originality.

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.

What really kills me about King Diamond’s music are some of the lyrics. If you don’t know, every King Diamond album is a concept album — a story — about some kind of horrific supernatural/occult/grim happening or tale. It’s fantastic, because the music is wonderful on top of all this. And his stories are original and quite creepy under the right circumstances. They may seem funny when you’re sitting around with your hipster or wigger slam friends, mocking his vocals and hamming it up. But listen to it alone at night and reading the lyrics and I assure — laugh you will not.

He’s covered a variety of locales with the stories too (though each album is distinctly King Diamond-ian, Danish, prog-meets-blackened-thrash metal). It’s all very impressively fit together and expressed vocally — much more so than the awful attempts made by prog bands like Dream Theater.

But what does always make me laugh are the little inconsistencies in the vocal themes.

Here’s an example: the album Abigail starts out with the song, “Arrival”, and the lyrics:

Through the summer rain of 1845
The coach had finally arrived
To the valley where the crossroads meet below
And where all darkness seems to grow
People blame it on the hill
The hill where no one dares to go…
The Mansion

Then on the next song, the truly excellent “Mansion in Darkness”, we get more concrete details about this house of evil:

Riding up the alley in the rain
No lights to show the way
How could this ever be their home
Through the darkness you could only see
A giant shadow which was to be
A house where evil ruled at night

Okay, so now we have two songs which have detailed this mansion, and furthermore described how the protagonists, Jonathan and Miriam LaFey are going to live there.

Then it gets even better on the single from the album, “The Family Ghost”:

The darkness came closer to home
on the following night
And Miriam slept like a rock when
Jonathan’s face went white

The bedroom was ice cold
But the fire was burning still
The blinding light
The Family Ghost had risen again…The Ghost

Ah excellent, this is getting good and spooky. But it’s so weird that he starts the song out with the colloquial expression, “the darkness came closer to home”, when it has been quite clearly established that their home, the house itself, is a beacon of darkness. And they’re already in the house at this point. Does the expression mean it literally, that the darkness actually came closer to their house, or is it being used metaphorically? Was this all intentionally confusing?!! I can only wonder…

There’s more on every album, but on the next one, Them, he hilariously understates his character’s emotional outburst at the villain of the story (his grandma). As grandma’s murderous intent is established on the track, “Bye Bye Missy”:

Missy was screaming,
“What have You done, what have you
done to My Ma”, crying louder now

We better get rid of her, She’s too
young anyway”

It was Grandma’ who spoke,
“Bye, bye Missy, be gone forever
The beautiful fireplace in the kitchen will do”

This is followed by “A Broken Spell”, in which King comes to his senses, becomes aware of his surroundings and relates his feelings about the ordeal:

The spell was broken, I really felt the change
As my mind and body became one again

The moon was alive with its silvery eye
Staring right into my evil heart (evil!)

I went back to see if my Grandma was still there
Waiting for me in the attic… Oh I hate that bitch!

Ha! Yeah, or maybe you’re perturbed by the psychopathic demonic murderer that bitch has become. Sorry, I just wouldn’t write off a servant of horrifying, unknown, pernicious, occult forces as a “bitch”. Just me.

Ah, but that’s part of why I love the King. And that’s something that I think comes across in a lot of Scandinavian lyrics — a charming straightforwardness about certain emotional sensibilities that would not be expressed so directly in homegrown English. Ha, it’s almost like the literal translations of Japanese and basic “Engrish” and so forth. Totally awesome. Again — in no ironic or mean-spirited way. I think it communicates something a little differently than typical Yank English.

***

Roadrunner released a double-disc CD of both Them and Conspiracy for the price of one!“> A deal if there ever was one…

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~ by chaosrexmachinae on November 28, 2008.

One Response to “King D: the Writer”

  1. yea.. i kinda like the way he writes the songs. its like a movie behind these songs. cool.

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