Review Summary: Underrated and accessible, The Eye is an essential listen for loyal fans and a fine starting point for those who wish to get acquainted with King Diamond’s horror stories.
In a discography as vast as Kim Bendix Petersen’s (solo and w/Mercyful Fate) and with highs such as Melissa
, Don’t Break the Oath
, there are always hidden diamonds waiting to be discovered. Albums that longtime fans are aware of but unfortunately are overshadowed by previous success. Such is the case of The Eye
; King Diamond’s fifth release and the last of his classic era.
Released a year after Conspiracy
and the completion of the story that had began on ”Them”
, The Eye
is once again a concept album but has a different perspective. The protagonist of The Eye
– which is narrated by an unknown entity – is not King Diamond but a cursed artifact and an array of characters. However, what makes the story even more interesting is the fact that a large part of it is real; almost every member of the “cast” lived during the years of the French inquisition.
The story begins with the narrator introducing a cursed artifact which he/she names the “eye of the witch” and has apparently affected him/her deeply. “Eye of the Witch” is the first of two tracks on which the narrator shares his thoughts, the other being the last of the album. Moving on, the listener is introduced to a number of horrific events that took place including holy inquisition, burning at the stake, murder, rape by a member of the cloth, insanity, revenge and imprisonment, among others. It’s the necklace’s power that gives its user the ability to go back in time and see these dreadful events, with a cost
of course, including death. The plot is dark and twisted (as always with King Diamond) but has a gothic feeling. There are five characters that are true and make the story even more realistic compared to Diamond’s previous efforts; a supposed witch, an investigator of the Christian Burning Court (great title for a court), a nun and two convent chaplains.
Instrumentally, those of you who are accustomed with King Diamond’s most well-known albums, will already have a solid idea of how The Eye
sounds; traditional heavy metal with progressive inclinations that doesn’t sacrifice melody for heaviness. The highlight, as on every KD album, is the dynamics created from Diamond’s vocals and LaRocque’s guitar playing. Once again there are memorable riffs and blistering solos with neoclassical inclinations that reveal LaRocque’s two main influences, Michael Schenker and Randy Rhoads. The level of soloing is so high that makes even average songs like “Into the Convent” interesting. The band’s two guitarists do a great job of making the listener feel various emotions such as fear, disgust, or anxiety. It’s not a surprise that the instrumental “Insanity” is one of the standouts of the album even though its mellow nature doesn’t fit the track’s title. There are numerous catchy moments such as the keyboard line on “Eye of the Witch”, the use of harpsichord on “Behind These Walls”, the chorus of “Burn”, or the riff of “The Curse” on which we become familiarized with the narrator’s thoughts and feelings for the second and final time.
On the other hand, a subject of usual misconception is the drumming, which for years was slated to be a result of drum machine due to its weak nature. In fact, drummer Snowy Shaw who replaced Mikkey Dee on The Eye
used drum pads instead of normal drums. Lastly, some may feel that the story lacks the focus of previous efforts such as “Abigail” and “Conspiracy” due to the numerous characters that are introduced.
To make a long story short, all the above make The Eye
one of the most accessible albums on KD’s discography and a fine starting point for those who are unfamiliar with the band’s work. The instrumentation doesn’t take a backseat to the lyrics, which is always a danger on concept albums, and overall, this is a highly atmospheric release that may be enjoyed by a large portion of traditional metal enthusiasts.