Review Summary: "Abigail! Nothing I can do but give in, Abigail!"King Diamond
At the time of recording, King Diamond
Kim Bendix Petersen (King Diamond) – Vocals
Andy LaRocque – Guitar
Michael Denner – Guitar
Timi Hansen - Bass
Mikkey Dee – Drums
Roberto Falcao – Keyboard
The concept album is usually a remarkable piece of art, as a band has to be confident in their musical capabilities to the point where they can create a focal point or common theme within an album. Some recent notables include The Mars Volta
’s Deloused in the Comatorium
, the story of Cerpin Taxt (Julio Venegas)’s drug and coma-induced visions, and Protest the Hero
, the brief following of a young woman and her inevitable execution, told through the views of three different characters. Flashback nearly two decades to 1987, the year Abigail
was released. Fronted by the infamous voice of one of black metal’s original pioneers, King Diamond, the album secured his place as one of metal’s most inventive and interesting characters. Diamond, upon forming his solo project, lost some of his old satanic infatuation and replaced it with tales of theatrical suspense and horror. While not thought provoking or entirely original in any way, they have some lasting entertainment value that is thankfully backed by surprisingly well done instrumental work. Abigail
is and will forever remain the magnum opus of King Diamond’s career, as it accomplishes everything it sets out to be to perfection.
The plot behind Abigail
is based around the ever so popular theme of “couple inherits/buys new house, mysterious person(s) tell couple not to occupy house due to its haunted state, and couple does not listen and stubbornly settles down in house”. That aside, it’s a cohesive concept, which is praiseworthy to say the least. Here, Miriam Natias and Jonathan La’Fey are said couple, and upon moving into the mansion, they are promptly visited by Jonathan’s deceased ancestor, Count La’Fey. He urges Jonathan to hastily murder his wife, for the evil spirit of Abigail La’Fey will soon take the form of a fetus inside his wife. Abigail, who was originally born and died on July 7th, 1777, is not meant to live, and the birth must be prevented at all costs. Rather than spill the entire story, I’ll end this portion by saying it sets up for a continuous cycle, which is observed through the later King Diamond
release, Abigail II: The Revenge
. The story is satisfying, and again lightens the load for future releases by the King in already having a story to continue.
If your unfamiliar with King Diamond’s voice, well, It’s a must hear. Not always the most enjoyable, it resembles the high-pitched whines of a pre-pubescent child, although he will often drop lower with raspier snarls, the latter being quite good as a matter of fact. It is the standout on this album as well as any other of his albums, but one shouldn’t reject the album solely on this, as I did so juvenilely back when I first heard this.
The instrumentals are excellent all around. The semi-inventive drumming is all one could ask for, and while the bass is relatively unheard from, the two guitarists more than compensate. Andy LaRocque in particular, who is still shamefully underrated and unheard of. There are numerous memorable riffs, as well as guitar solos that while aren’t always obscenely complex at least are consistently enjoyable and impeccably fitting. They have that expected 80’s feel, but even hater players who dislike the evident cheese often associated with the decade can’t deny that these are enjoyable. The highlight solo is, in my opinion, the dual guitars of The Family Ghost
, but there are so many unforgettable ones here it is an arduous task to pick between them.
With that comes the one possible complaint with Abigail
apart from the vocals; There are a very large quantity of solos here. Instead of dismissing them as excessive, dig deeper into the song structure for a moment. The purpose of this album is to tell a story, and that story is being told whenever vocals are present. The guitar solos function as very quick interludes between verses, rather than the guitars going for some boring little chug chug or what not. It’s all flawlessly executed, so one is either asphyxiated by the guitar work, or carefully paying attention to the plot. Credit the band for constantly trying to keep the listener intrigued by using the plethora of solos to their advantage, and refrain from making any invalid Dragonforce
comparisons out of the blue.
(and King Diamond
in general) is not for everyone. You’ll either love it for its creativity and instrumental work, or you’ll hate it for your inability to take the band and the man seriously. No matter which side of the scale one floats down, Abigail
is a classic for what it is, and is a must listen for any fan of metal to educate and enlighten oneself at the very least. It is one of the best metal albums of the 80’s and is easily one of the greatest concept albums of all time.
Top Three Tracks:
The 7th Day of July 1777
A Mansion in the Darkness
Note: This is a review of the 9-track original recording.