Review Summary: A solid album worth the time and the buy, however King Diamond's previous release, "Abigail" is his best.A brief history of King Diamond up to this point:
After leaving Mercyful Fate due to creative differences, King Diamond (a.k.a Kim Bendix Petersen) embarked on his self-titled solo project. Following his debut album Fatal Portrait, he released his magnum opus Abigail, which further elaborated on the path he had forged on the previous album. Developing concept horror stories into heavy metal albums, King Diamond delivers a memorable listening experience with each album. "Them" is King Diamond's third album, and in my opinion his second best.
I became a King Diamond fan after listening to Mercyful Fate. King Diamond work is similar to Mercyful Fate's, except the Satanic themes have been dropped for the aforementioned horror concepts. Anyone who has ever griped about Mercyful Fate's vocals is sure to dislike King Diamond's approach as it is basically the same. However, I think King Diamond gives a great and original/unique performance as per his competition in the genre. Now back to the album. "Them" features the master guitar work of the overlooked Andy LaRocque, who is also the cowriter of all of the King Diamond albums. He is also co-guitarist on Death's Individual Thought Patterns which is an insight to his diverse range of talents. His solos are top-notch, and the rest of the rhythm section also bring consistently solid work to the table throughout the album.
(Note: The main character in the album's story is King. King will always mean the character in the story, and King Diamond will reference the singer.)
01. Out From The Asylum
Most King Diamond albums begin with these brief intros. "Them" is no exception. This one starts with crashing thunder and dissonant sounds of King playing a run on the piano. According to King (also the narrator) it is a special day as King's grandma is coming home from "vacation". His mother can be heard saying "King, answer the door and stop playing that thing."
Overall, a good intro that sets the mood for the album's best and most catchy song
02. Welcome Home
The first great (real) song. All KD fans know this tune. I love how in the previous track at the end, King's mother says to open the door, and this track starts off with a drumroll, implying knocking. This song carries itself perfectly, the length is just right, the riffs are heavy, the singing is a mix of signature shrill shrieks and low growls, not to mention Andy LaRocque's solos which complement the song to the fullest extent.
03. The Invisible Guests
Another amazing song. This one explains how King walks in on his grandmother "speaking to no one." "Cups were rising in thin air..." This song sort of gets the horror portion of the album going, and KD's vocals are still great as usual. Andy rips with two solos that follow the melody nicely.
KD and the gang have no intent to let up. This song hits you with an acoustic intro that is kind of upbeat, but it doesn't last long, because Andy and co-guitarist Pete Blakk follow up with a heavy riff that slams your ears in fine contrast to the calm piece that preceded it. The lyrics are about King's grandma telling King about how the house is haunted and he starts to learn more about "Them," the mysterious presence that resides there. She tells him that the house is called Amon. In this track, the tea becomes blood, and King falls under his grandma's spell. "Nothing seemed to matter at all..."
King's vocals here are some of my favorite on the entire album as he uses his signature high wails but this time in a more melodic and subtle manner.
05. Mother's Getting Weaker
King's mother falls ill in this track, and his sister begs him to call for help. King cuts the phone line and Missy ends the track by crying "I hate you." The solo is another good one, however this song just isn't as engaging as the first four.
06. Bye, Bye Missy
Missy starts to realize that grandma is doing something to their mother. "Them" have decided it is time for her to die. After Missy smashes grandma's teapot, Missy is thrown into the fireplace. One of the highlights is Andy's strangely fitting shredding solo.
07. A Broken Spell
King can now see that "Them" have less power now that the teapot is broken. King's mind starts to fight the spell that has been put on him. The next thing he sees is smoke rising from the chimney, and he knows it is the remains of Missy. Another great development to a great storyline. "I knew she would be waiting for me in the attic.... I hate that bitch..."
08. The Accusation Chair
A standout riff starts this song, and KD finds an interesting way to follow the guitar with the vocal melody. King's grandma asks him to bring her outside. Once outside, King grabs her cane and kills her. Instead of going back inside, he runs into the woods. Of course, no track would be complete without some sort of skilled guitar work from Andy. Following the solo is one of the best section/interludes on the album.
A sober instrumental and a brief little interlude to lull the listener into a false sense of serenity.
10. Twilight Symphony
The police arrive to arrest King in the morning. He tries to explain himself to Dr. Landau, the psychiatrist and character more fully developed in the follow-up to this album, "Conspiracy." Dr. Landau believes King to be crazy, and King is taken away to be committed. Dr. Landau won't tell King where his mother is, and basically this track is a preview of what is to come with "Conspiracy." Musically, KD and Andy continue to dole out great singing and riffs, respectively.
11. Coming Home
This track is a short outro which has another dissonant riff in the background. It tells of King's reunion with his grandma. King Diamond is the master of creepy minute-long pieces like these.
Overall, this is a great album that is easily worth the forty minutes you'll spend listening to it. I wouldn't hesitate to buy it if you get the chance, and I recommend Mercyful Fate if you like this band, as well as the sequel to this album, "Conspiracy."