Sunday Old School: Black Metal History Month Part 2. King Diamond
Band Photo: King Diamond (?)
As many people are aware, February is Black History Month in the United States of America. Always one to respect cultures and take part in something, we here at MetalUnderground.com are dedicating this month to the history of Black Metal. We will be looking at some of the biggest names in the genre, those who helped to shape it and some of the promising younger black metal bands in the underground.
It seems every genre of music has it’s great storytellers. Country music has Johnny Cash, folk rock has Bob Dylan, Hip-Hop has Slick Rick and heavy metal? We have King Diamond. King Diamond, (born Kim Bendrix Petersen in Copenhagen, Denmark,) and his image have become one of the iconic staples of metal music, being one of the first heavy metal performers to popularise the black and white face paint which is so common today, particularly in black metal, a genre which King helped launch with his previous band, Mercyful Fate, as well as his eponymous band, which he launched in 1985 with the single, "No Presents For Christmas."
Following the single’s release, the King Diamond band released their first album, "Fatal Portrait," on which five of the songs told a short story about a spirit being imprisoned in a candle. The album is notable for being only one of two King Diamond albums that are not complete concept albums. It gained the band a following, which strengthened tenfold when the group released their next studio album, "Abigail," widely considered to be the best album King Diamond has recorded. This album was solely dedicated to telling the story of a young couple who arrive at a mansion and discover the macabre history the house possesses. A new album followed the next year, simply entitled, "Them," which contained the song, "Welcome Home," perhaps the band’s most well known song, not least for it’s inclusion in the Kevin Smith comedy film, "Clerks 2." A sequel named, “Conspiracy” was released in 1989. Both albums were well received by fans but garnered a lukewarm reception from critics and were the last King Diamond albums recorded with drummer Mikkey Dee, now a member of Motorhead.
Following the release of, "The Eye," King relocated to the United States, bringing mainstay guitarist Andy LaRoque with him, and formed a new lineup. The first album with the new members, "The Spider’s Lullaby" achieved a number of positive reviews but the follow up, "The Graveyard" met with some negative feedback as did 1998's, "Voodoo" and 2000’s, "House Of God," which dealt largely with religious themes and was loosely based around, Rennes-le-Château, a commune in France which is the centre of many conspiracy theories. The band then underwent several changes to the lineup after the release of "House Of God," denting the smoothness of touring plans. Eventually, a stable lineup was formed and the group released, "Abigail II: The Revenge."
Critically, the record was a massive success and fans were also very keen on it, but it failed to meet sales expectations and as a result, the band were prevented from touring. Instead another new album was recorded, which came in the shame of "The Puppet Master," which revolved around a husband and wife puppeteer team, who made marionettes out of human beings. King Diamond then toured for a few years before finally releasing, "Give Me Your Soul…Please" in 2007, which earned the band a Grammy nomination for the song, "Never Ending Hill." Although numerous plans were made after the record’s release, a serious back injury has left King himself unable to perform for some time, save for a few shows and a guest performance with Metallica at Ozzfest, though he is expected to return to the stage on a permanent basis soon. Currently, the band are working on releasing a comprehensive DVD, featuring hours of live footage as well as interviews and more.
King Diamond - "No Presents For Christmas"
King Diamond - "Abigail"
King Diamond - "Welcome Home"
King Diamond - "Never Ending Hill"
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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