Review: KING DIAMOND – ‘Songs For The Dead Live’

The King is back! After a long wait, King Diamond has returned with ‘Songs for the Dead Live,’ which is the first thing KD has released since 2007’s ‘Give Me Your Soul….Please.’ On January 25th, KD will release a new DVD/Blu-ray ‘Songs for the Dead Live’ via Metal Blade Records. Here is some official info summarizing what to expect from this extensive collection of music and footage:

“Boasting 18 songs per set, each of the two shows – Belgium’s Graspop Metal Meeting in June 2016 and Philadelphia’s Fillmore in November 2015 – feature a brace of classic King Diamond and Mercyful Fate tracks including “Welcome Home,” “Halloween,” and “Eye of the Witch” before launching into ‘Abigail.’ The performances of the all-star lineup of musicians, comprising of guitarists Andy LaRocque and Mike Wead, bassist Pontus Egberg and drummer Matt Thompson, are absolutely ferocious, hammering home every single moment.”

Starting off with the Graspop gig, the album begins with the creepy atmosphere of “Out of the Asylum” from the album ‘Them’ before the band kicks into a ferocious rendition of “Welcome Home,” which features the crowd chanting “grandma” at all the right areas! Moving on, we get a mix of KD‘s greatest hits, so to speak, as we’re treated to fan favorites such as “Sleepless Nights,” “Halloween,” and “Eye of the Witch” – as well as Mercyful Fate classics “Melissa” and “Come to the Sabbath!” It isn’t foreign for KD to play songs from his past band. In fact, he’s been doing it for a long while now. But the inclusion of these songs is always a great addition to the set as they sound more powerful than they ever have – largely due to the strength in KD‘s voice which somehow sounds even better than it did in the old days!

As if this wasn’t enough already, nine songs in, fans are now treated to the classic 1987 album ‘Abigail’ played in its entirety! For those unfamiliar, ‘Abigail’ is the first in a line of concept albums that KD would work on throughout his career:

“Abigail tells the story of a young couple, Miriam Natias and Jonathan La’Fey, who move into an old mansion that La’Fey inherited. It takes place in the summer of 1845. At their arrival they are warned by seven horsemen not to move into the house because if they do “18 will become 9.” They do not heed the warning and proceed to move into the mansion. During their first night, Jonathan meets with Count de La’Fey, the Family Ghost, who is a deceased relative. The ghost shows him a casket in which a corpse of a stillborn child, Abigail, rests. The ghost informs him that Miriam is carrying the spirit of Abigail and that the child will soon be reborn. He insists that Jonathan must kill Miriam at once to prevent the rebirth.”

The album has sold over 175,000 copies in North America and is constantly cited as one of the best metal albums of all time! So, if you can’t tell, ‘Abigail’ is a big deal! Hearing songs like “The Family Ghost,” with its ripping solo courtesy of the amazing Andy LaRocque, is a real treat! However, the highlight of this particular performance is the final song, the ominous track, “The Black Horsemen” which starts off with some beautiful acoustic guitar work courtesy of Andy LaRocque and Mike Wead. The song soon progresses and unfolds into a series of epic bass and drum parts, haunting vocals, and, of course, killer riffage only surpassed by triumphant guitar solos!

Moving on to the show at the Fillmore, we are treated to the same epic setlist as Graspop. However, right off the bat you get a different vibe from this performance. Whereas the Graspop crowd was a mixed bag of metal lovers, the Fillmore show is immediately more intimate as it is comprised entirely of the KD devout, screaming back every word – their love for their hero bleeding from every frame. This is especially apparent during the quieter parts of several songs. The energy radiating from the crowd instantly puts you into a headbanging mood and makes you feel as if you are at the show yourself!

Production-wise, ‘Songs for the Dead Live’ is a lot stronger than previous KD live albums. This time around everything seems to be balanced, as we get clear vocals and guitars, as well as a lot more emphasis to the bass and drums – which really shine prominently in the mix. Overall you can tell that a lot of care and regard for the fans was put into the mix of this album. ‘Songs for the Dead Live’ will easily go down as the definitive King Diamond live record!

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