Abigail

King Diamond

Review score: 90%

Review Date: August 2012
Reviewer: Paul Jack
Source: Rock Hard Reviews
(www.rockhardreviews.com)

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Hail to King Diamond! Delighted to hear that King is well enough to play again, and was rocking out at the Sweden Rock Festival this summer. Stay heavy, King.

So anyway, there I was, somewhere back in time. Stormy weather outside, but dry and warm here underground. Just another long haired dude in a Sabbath t-shirt and leather biker jacket, flicking through a stack of vinyl in the metal section based in the basement of a music shop long since lost to the mists of memory.

And that was my first encounter with the corpse painted, falsetto singer's work. Two LPs caught my eye... one simply called 'Them', the other 'Abigail'. Both had interesting cover art and both reminded me of old horror movies. There and then I bought Them. I remember the sepia-effect photos of the band, King curled up in a wheelchair playing crazy, his face painted like a KISS extra. The following week I went back and bought the last copy of Abigail. Many Diamond bangers regard these two albums as being the band's best work. My own favourite is Conspiracy, which usually makes fan's top three.

Abigail is a horror story. It's a scary movie in music form. Set in 1845, the tale tells of haunting, possession and of a family with a dark past. Jonathan La'Fey and his young wife are moving back into Jonathan's ancestral mansion which he inherited.

Interestingly, the name Jonathan La'Fey is significant for two reasons. Firstly it is a nod to Anton LaVey, occultist, entertainer and founder of the Church of Satan in the US. King Diamond is a follower of LaVey, having publicly stated that he sees Satanism as a philosophy not a religion. Secondly calling someone 'the fey' infers that they are in some way link to the spirit world or the world of the faerie (the fey folk).

Right from the start we have Funeral, with King voicing the roles of the Black Horsemen, gathered together on a stormy night to defeat a reborn evil before it is too late.

The metal kicks in with Arrival, a magnificent track covering the couple's traumatic journey to the old mansion house and the attempts of a group known as the Black Horsemen to stop the dark future unfolding by warning him. We get some interesting lyrics here, 'eighteen is nine', a theme which is repeated throughout the ghost story. The number 9 appears to represent the Abigail, and it is interesting to note that Mercyful Fate (King Diamond's other band) would later release an album called 9. Satanic numerology, anyone?

The horror continues through tracks Mansion in Darkness and The Family Ghost. Terrific guitar playing, going out on a limb I think the band sometimes veer towards melodic rock. Love the storyline here, especially the shade of Jonathan's ancestor trying to intervene and save him.

After a suitable spooky guitar intro we hear how violence erupted on The 7th Day of July 1777. I'll avoid spoilers for you, but r-e-a-l bad things happened to the La'Fey family back in the past. Following which the track Omens details some of the weird stuff that starts happening back in the present... deadly omens indeed. King's falsetto voice works well here, and the band rock hard.

Following a stress filled night, the sun rises the very next morning, but instead of bringing them peace and hope the La'Fey couple find things take a terrible turn for the worse during The Possession. An energetic intro leads us nicely into the title track Abigail, where King's high pitched screaming and deranged laughter blend in nicely with awesome guitar work, portraying the evil events. Everything is spinning out of control for Jonathan as Abigail gains power.

The original final track on my old vinyl album, Black Horsemen remains a personal favourite of mine. The guitar intro initially reminds me of Ozzy Osbourne's classic number You Can't Kill Rock and Roll from his Diary of a Madman album. As the track continues we hear Abigail fully in control, evil about to be reincarnated. The guitar work on Black Horsemen is excellent throughout this seven minute track. I love King's lyric "You can still hear her screaming if you're walking the stairs in July".The enigmatic group called the Black Horsemen burst onto the scene at the last possible moment, but do they save the day? You'll have to listen to the sequel to this album, Abigail 2, which came out around 15 years after the original Abigail.

Naturally the reissued album contains some extra tracks. There are a few rough mixes of original album tracks, but shining out from among them is a delightful number called Shrine. Back in the day I was one of those completists who bought King Diamond's EP called The Dark Sides just to get the band's rare early material. Shrine was amongst that collection, and is a worthy addition to Abigail. The lyrics mention 'The 9' and the song could represent the spirit of Abigail reaching out from the darkness.

Cover Art

Gorgeous! Old time funeral coach racing along under midnight storm clouds. Sets the tone well for this horror story.

Conclusion

Luckily I did not review Abigail on July 7th, otherwise I might have felt obliged to award it a mere 77%! As with all of King Diamond's work, his vocals are a bit of an acquired taste. Let's just say that his falsetto grew on me and I rate King's work highly, whereas Tali is more impressed by the band's guitar work and less with the vocals.

Abigal is amazing, and marked the start of King Diamond's trend for storytelling throughout an entire album. The storyline behind Abigail is good, particularly if you like classic ghost stories. The music on the album is excellent. If you are new to King Diamond's work then the classic Abigail is definitely among the band's best work and is highly recommended.

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Track List (may vary)

  • Funeral
  • Arrival
  • A Mansion In Darkness
  • The Family Ghost
  • The 7th Day Of July 1777
  • Omens
  • The Possession
  • Abigail
  • Black Horsemen

The reissue has bonus tracks

  • Shrine
  • A Mansion in Darkness (rough mix)
  • The Family Ghost (rough mix)
  • The Possession (rough mix)