I fall into a rare breed of Diamond fans (not Neil.. King). I didn’t get into KD until the mid-late nineties, so I wasn’t around when he was at his (arguable) peak, plus I also don’t really have any reference point for the early albums since I got into all his albums around the same time. So, even with this in mind, I can pinpoint my fascination with The Graveyard upon various factors:
1. Story is both realistic and supernatural. The elements that make it “scary” are almost more of the realistic elements, and the supernatural elements are almost benign in comparison which makes for a cool twist (not to mention the “twist” ending).
2. I think that King’s mental hospital patient (channeled undoubtedly from Alice Cooper’s character on From the Inside), has the characteristics of an “Anti-hero”, something that isn’t too prevalent in the “good vs evil” themes in heavy metal.
3. The music, though dryly produced, is some of his catchiest material. Black Hill Sanitarium comes out with an almost Panteraesque riff to cover a lot of ground within its minutes. It also has songs like “Sleep Tight Little Baby” which is probably the most anguished sounding King had been since “Melissa”’s title track.
But the real treat music wise is the “Danny Elfman meets Black Sabbath” spectacle of “Digging Graves”. I’ve never heard a Metal song that sounds more like Elfman’s material for “Nightmare Before Christmas”, even on a Savatage album.
Solowise, Laroque and Simonsen are a little restrained this time around, but the riffs on the album are ingenious. The music is a bit stripped down from those early albums, but not utterly simplified like on such albums as “House of God”.
4. Vocal wise, this is probably my favorite performance of King. He is so maniacal, so deranged (in a humorous way which I believe is somewhat intentional) that we believe he is that nuts. Its fun to hear him use his ENTIRE range of voices, from the early Fate groan, to the very Alice Cooper sounding nasal midrange, to the classic falsetto and more.
Conclusion: This is definitely the most underrated King album of all. I believe it to be a peak in a way, as most of the albums after this I haven’t liked as much. Voodoo pales in comparison in many ways to the melodies contained on this album.
I think King has come close with The Puppet Master, as that was his best in years, and I haven’t listened to Give Me Your Soul Please enough to warrant a final judgement, but The Graveyard stands alone among King Diamond albums. I believe this to be his best nineties album other than Spider’s Lullabye, and its comparable (production wise) to Fate’s own Into the Unknown (ever notice how they kind of seemed to overlap with their songwriting style and production, each KD and Fate released during the same period?)