First of all, let me say that I am a stone cold Mercyful Fate/King Diamond fan and this is the album that started it all for me. Unlike one reviewer who states that only the metal classics (even as an old head I think that “classics” are often subjective) deserve five stars, I’ll give five to any album which has SERIOUSLY moved me. I’m not saying that there aren’t “classic” albums but please, think for yourself.
Now lets rewind to me at the age of 14. I bought this album and was ,for lack of better words, “TOTALLY FREAKED OUT!!” Now it’s true, I was 14, but this album still has a similiar impact on me. Now I was SO scared by the absolutely haunting guitar melodies, the excellent lyrics and King’s voice (which is NEVER off even for a second on this album in my opinion unlike some others) that I sold it back to a store. I had heard Metallica, Pantera, etc., at that time but just didn’t know how to react to this.
A couple months later however, I still had the songs in my head every day and realized that I LOVED the album even though, and actually because, it terrified me, and I bought it once again.
From then on I became a Mercyful Fate and King Diamond FREAK and now own everything King has ever released except his VERY rare releases with THE BRATS. Now I know that this is heresay to any metal head who says that only the CLASSICS deserve five stars, but I think this album beats Don’t Break the Oath (heads’ gasp) In the Shadows, Melissa, hell, I like this better than all of King Diamond’s solo releases as well.
If you wonder why ask yourself this question: HAS ANY ALBUM EVER ACTUALLY SCARED YOU? I love the heaviest music, Cannibal Corpse, Pig Destroyer, Behemoth, Immolation, etc. All that stuff is much heavier, and yes, much of it has gory lyrics, but none of it is actually HAUNTING. We are talking chills down you spine and psychological horror more than gore type metal. If it hadn’t been for this album I never would have become fascinated by the occult,withchcraft, horror movies, just about everything DARK I am into now.
The opener “Nightmare By Thy Name” has a chorus that sounds to me like it was performed by satanic priests in a dark basement. “Angel of Light” peaks at the point where King proclaims “I will make a second deal with the prince of the light…” and as I listen to it right now this still strikes me as what should be the theme song for the late Anton Lavey’s Church of Satan. “Witches Dance” is possibly my favorite song on the album, the first 30 seconds or so complete with the bells “of doom” still makes the hair stick up on the back of my neck. “The Mad Arab” led to my reading the Necronomicon and then all of H.P. Lovecraft’s work who is now my all-time favorite horror author. “My Demon” is simply sinister: at this point King is drawing the listener deep into the abyss of his beautifully demented mind. “Time” as one other reviewer rightly said, is simply magnificiently creepy. “Lady in Black” is perhaps the most EVOCATIVE song on the album, really makes the listener feel that he is in a gothic garden on a misty day witnessing a dark apparition. “Mirror” is a very heavy song too. All in all, the album just mesmerizes me still and has led to me seeking out creepy music from all genres, bands like The Goblins, Comus, Van Der Graaf Generator’s Pawn Hearts and, of course, the great Celtic Frost.
But most of all, for all those heads who can’t handle King’s vocals, (even I admit that at RARE times they bug me) for whatever reason I really think they are right on the money here and so you might want to give it a listen.
They say there is a thin line between madness and genius, well KING is probably a genius and DEFINATELY a madman and has a vision all his own. Plain and simple, this is the album which led me towards the darkside in all things, and never shall I return…