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In addition to being my twins' first birthday, this (June 15, 2012) is the 25th anniversary of King Diamond's Abigail. It's not just a favorite of mine, but one of the most beloved metal albums of all time. As evidence, you need only look at the Metal Archives review average: 13 reviews with an average score of 96%. Browsing around and looking at the usual suspects, I could find only one other album with at least a dozen reviews and an equal score (Sad Wings of Destiny).
I should have named my twins Jonathan and Abigail.
Timi Hansen, Michael Denner, and the incomparable King Diamond had all been involved in two of the greatest metal albums of all time. After the break-up of the great Mercyful Fate, they formed the band King Diamond. 1986 Debut Fatal Portrait didn't make a drastic departure from their old band's style, and only partially qualifies as a concept album. But Abigail represents the moment that King Diamond (the band) truly came into its own.
Even absent the brilliant combination of Denner and Shermann, everything about it works. To be fair, the chilling/exhilarating, loping riff style is still quite similar to MF, but KD became a more narrative, more polished, and hookier version of its predecessor.
While many albums are rated on the "killer" to "filler" ratio, that same standard can't be applied to a concept album. Instead, the quality of the central songs must be considered first and foremost. In particular, "The 7th Day of July 1777" and the title track are both among the best heavy metal has to offer, while a handful of others on here are fantastic as well. There is simply no questioning the "hits" of the album and how those hooks can stew in your brain, coming out months after the last time you heard the song in the form of an unprovoked, "Abigail, I know you're in control of her brain. Abigail, oh-ooh-oh-oh."
The other aspect to consider with a concept album is the flow. After a short intro, the stellar "Arrival" instantly draws you in. Where the tracks do lag in quality, they make up in how they fit into the whole: Keeping the pace, keeping things dynamic, and completing the story. The story, of course, is what defines a concept album. And the story of Abigail is compelling, to say the least. An evil stillborn child's ghost . . . well, you already know it. If you don't, you need to. But this record stands high above others in its greatness with or without the story.
There is good reason Abigail is so beloved. It has some of the best songwriting and performances of any metal record, ever, by everyone involved. And a creepy horror story to go along with it.
originally written for http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/
Heavy metal has broadened immeasurably through the years and yet some records will eternally outshine others and retain their status as landmarks for a very long time. King Diamond's second album "Abigail" is such a record.
What sets it apart from the heaving mass of conceptual works is its timely and precise sense of drama, its graceful and masterful yet abundantly metallic musical delivery, and of course, King Diamond's fabulous horror tale of a haunted mansion, a ghost of a stillborn child itching to be reborn and the inescapable tragedy of the new inhabitants that unravels faster than you can say "DIE!" All delivered in the screeching, yearning, howling, shrieking, belting, cackling, bellowing and crooning tones that make the voice of the King. He doesn't hold himself back on this record and yet doesn't go so far as to scale the heights of absurdity. Perfect timing governs "Abigail".
King puts up a hell of a performance but he doesn't over sing, Andy LaRoque and Michael Denner put out an arsenal of worthwhile riffs and utterly terrifying licks but never quite indulge in any unnecessary pleasures. Songs like "A Mansion In Darkness", "The 7th Day of July 1777" and "Black Horsemen" are incredibly guitar heavy but the perceptible tones of the leads ensure that LaRoque and Denner keep themselves in check. The result is that you have one of the best guitar albums in metal where the players exhibited a canny grasp of song values and showed that simple threads can weave a complexly beautiful and eternally entrancing tapestry of sound. Mikkey Dee's drumming is thrilling and great big loads of fun from start to finish. He is boomy and theatrical on the proggier parts of songs like "The 7th Day of July 1777" and "Omens" and downright maniacal on the speed metal slabs that are "The Family Ghost" and "Arrival". Mostly though, he does a commendable job of giving each song fine structure and definition. The more percussive riffs of Denner and LaRoque when held down with Timi's superior bass tones take on smooth flight when Dee pounds on the kit.
The album clocks in at only about forty minutes and little more than a quarter leaving you decidedly hungry for more. There's no room for filler, no crazy unwarranted experimentation and no distressing interludes that have made many a concept record tearily unbearable. The album maintains a"oneness" of sorts, the story itself doesn't drift off into annoying subplots and is seen right through to the gloomy end. But I always wished there was more to the Abigail story and it would be awhile until the King dared open the gates to that fatal mansion. But he finally did in 2002 with a sequel that had been something worth waiting for. The original however can never pale in comparison and remains both a heavy metal classic and probably the best King Diamond album.
After releasing a solid debut album, former Mercyful Fate vocalist King Diamond would soon show the world that he is capable of releasing legendary music on his own. Well, not on his own with the help of fellow Mercyful Fate brethren Timi Hansen and Michael Denner on rhythm guitar and bass, and new faces like the awe inspiring Andy LaRocque and equally skilled Mikkey Dee on lead guitar and drums. The band does a tremendous job displaying skillful and complex playing that back-up The King's vocals and story perfectly. Unlike his first album The King really experiments on this album with very complex songs and a fantastic conceptual story line that spans over the whole album.
The legendary King Diamond brings his theatrical falsetto magic into this record like its nobody's business. The King's voice is very crisp, clear and and always on pitch. Falsetto's might not be for everybody and that is understandable, but The King's voice takes a lot of talent to pull off, especially in metal. The Kings has about 4 different voices, give or take. Theres super high falsetto as hear on "Omens", just plain high vocals has hear on, Black Horsemen" and then there is mid range and low grunting vocals like that on "The Family Ghost". These variety of voices make the album very interesting with something always new being presented in the story or through The King's voice. The title track, "Abigail", has some shining moments for The King. The whole, I AM ALIVE!!!, bit really shows King's skill and power as a singer. Aside from the voice, the words are just as great. Telling a great story of a husband and wife moving into a haunted house and then realizing that there is an evil stillborn little girl by the name of Abigail living there. I won't spoil the story but it is rather interesting and written very well. There is even a nice twist ending that is presented in a tasteful manner.
Andy LaRocque and Michael Denner are on guitars and do an amazing job. Denner is great at keeping the rhythm while LaRocque displays his godly skills. The riffs are fantastic heavy riffs like that on, "Abigail", "The Family Ghost", and "Omens" that bring some variety because of the melodic based music. This album is also full of mostly melodic riffs and interludes like the intro to "A Mansion in Darkness" and "Black Horsemen" the are perfectly accompanied by The King's voice and Dee's tight drumming. LaRocque's solos are nothing but perfect. On, "A Mansion in Darkness" and "The 7th Day of July 1777" ,for example he fine displays his skills with an interesting and memorable solos without becoming too wanky, which is hard to find these days with these pure wank masturbation guitars that just sweep the scales. Some acoustic guitar is also peppered in this album in a very tasteful manner. Like on the acoustic break of "The Possession" or the intro to "Black Horsemen" that give them haunting atmospheres that fit with the albums theme. All around the riffs are very memorable, melodic and complex which work perfectly for this album. His tone is great and clean with a nice crunch and smooth middle and electrifying high which is easily some of the best guitar work displayed in metal.
Timi Hansen from Mercyful Fate provides bass work for this album and brings the almost 'lead bass' style from Mercyful Fates "Don't Break the Oath" but makes it more controlled. Timi is pretty audible on the album and displays his skills accordingly. "Arrival " has a great and subtle independent descending line in the intro that can be overlooked but makes the intro really awesome. "The Possession" is really where Hansen shines, with a bass opening and simple riff under the solo that make this song really interesting and progressive. Overall Hansen's bass work and clean tone is in the vein of Mercyful Fate's "Dont Break the Oath" which is a great addition to the album.
Some of the best displayed skills are from drummer Mikkey Dee. Dee is a drumming god and is very accurate and makes come complex rhythm and breaks. The opening track, "Arrival", has amazing beats by Dee that are tighter than a nun's cunt. His drumming just fucking blows me away every time. The title track also shows his ability to do poly-rhythms and it shines amazingly. It's amazing how Dee is able to keep the songs going with such complex beats and fills that you don't really see in music that much anymore."The Possession" has a great break in the middle that is really catchy and shows his skills greatly in a quick 5 second fill. Dee's kit has a great clean tone with theatrical like cymbals that makes the album feel very well produced and mixed. Overall Dee's drumming is godly and works wonders with LaRocque and the rest of the band.
In the end, this is the rebirth of The King. Taking the ideas of his first album and expanding them and exploring the idea a theatrical story line. With some god-like drumming and guitar playing with the addition of The King's amazing voice this is a must have for any metal fan and any fan of complex and theatrical music.
It took me long to decide myself and giving the rating number to this release. 99 or 100. Finally, I decided to give it the highest score and I shall explain, as long and as far as I can, why this rating and why I consider this album the greatest one ever crafted in heavy metal history.
While in Mercyful Fate, King Diamond still was attached to some classical sounds and influence, yet, the band managed to create some new forms in the genre, black metal and even some glances of thrash. The couple of initial albums by the band are classics on their own and they don't need explanation. But, for some reason, we all knew that King Diamond's hidden power was not unleashed, it was there to be exploited, to recieve the full throttle. He felt it, as well, and without leaving Mercyful Fate, started an alternative project.
But he also wanted to make this something beyond a "solo project". He created a whole new band, with a whole lot of new members to shred some heavy metal power. There is where we meet a guy who does not simple matches with King Diamond's requirements, but a total genious: Andy LaRocque. This couple starlted a bloodline of records with a stainless reputation, alongside several other magical names like Mikkey Dee, Pete Blakk or Michael Denner, to name some of them.
After "Fatal Portrait", a nice starting effort, they needed to achieve a major identity. Here, the stars got lined and "Abigail" gets born (or stillborn?).
The whole simple conception of the record is beyond possible description. The story is a masterpiece, King could easily live writting scripts for horror movies and he would actually dim the light of the rest of the writers. But, regardless of the storyline (and poetry), which adds, obviously, for talent reasons, more points to the record, the big deal here is the music.
'Funeral' is a creepy introduction to the magic and deadly scenario in Abigail's realm. 'Arrival' is simply a living entient. The guitar intro, the soloing, the riffs, the powerful duet between the bass lines and the drumming, everything excells. And above all this, Mr. Diamond's vocals. Yeah, we know, that's controversial and I respect your opinion, if you think he is annoying, anyway. But as far as I know, Ian Gillan or Rob Halford created this style and no one complains. Of course, between Ian, Rob and King there are differences, but if something can be added here is that he is the epitome of falsetto singing, you like it or not.
'A Mansion in the Darkness' and 'The Family Ghost' are two of a kind, both with facemelting riffs, striking singing and the most frantic rythmic lines ever. LaRocque and Denner take all the points with the guitar work in this majestic couple. Timi Hansen deserves lots of credit with his work in the bass, specially in the first three songs.
After this rollercoaster of heavy metal punches, a slow down was unavoidable. Yet, the songs are excellent, good enough to keep you tuned. The storyteller '7th Day of July, 1777' is revealing for the lyrics, essential for understanding the plot and somo solos are beyond conception. 'Omens' does the same thing, is straightforward, simple but full of energy. Then, 'The Possession' with unmatched theatrical shred of singing and lyrics. King never achieved the same effect in other songs, while most of them are pretty good ones as well. These three songs are the pathway for the major moment.
'Abigail' has a legendary reputation. Visionary, revolutionary, beyond its time, the song is a field of magic powers from every member of the band. To say the opposite is to not understand the true beauty of heavy metal. Everything is perfected, crafted with the most subtle work and whatever quote you would like to give it to explain something beyond explanation. 'The Black Horsemen' is the epic conclusion for the thing, from other world, from another realm.
King Diamond amazed us with many new and great releases after this album, but no one reached the ammount of talent and perfection that can be found in 'Abigail', and well, the thing is that "Abigail is in control of our brains, Abigail, AAHHH!!" (Yeah, whatnot).
Though his entire catalog from 1986-1990 was unstoppable, Abigail is one of two flawless masterpieces King Diamond produced in the career of his 'solo' band. Boasting a creepy tale of ghostly visitations and potential infanticide, the follow-up to Fatal Portrait is the perfect, rich grounds for King to stalk about with his shattering falsetto and wicked tales of omens and classic horror. But the true wealth of Abigail is its abundant riffing: every chord, every note carefully laid into the fabric of the narrative, and King's best ever backing lineup in place to deliver perfection (Timi Hansen, Mikkey Dee, Michael Denner, and of course the guitar god Andy La Rocque).
"Funeral" is a portentous inauguration for the record, with King doing numerous whispered voices above some synths that swell into a classical formation before the chomping chords of "Arrival" march into the dark European landscape, grounding the wailing, ghostlike melodies that cavort into the moonlight. The song is like a circus of WHAT TO DO RIGHT WITH A METAL SONG. Though loaded with riffs and beautiful leadwork, it still allows for Diamond's vocals to lead the festivities, multi-channel falsettos erupting like caroling, malevolent spirits. If the man's voice bothers you, your opinion isn't going to change with this album, and you can fuck off. "A Mansion in Darkness" offers graceful speed metal with a majestic bridge, bathed once more in unforgettable riffing and dense moonlight. The leads are beyond elegant.
"The Family Ghost" is one of the best remembered tracks from the album, and for a good reason. It's an ever shifting narrative track with some groove laden rhythms, including THAT riff, the one at 2:53, the one that has ruined a good many pairs of shorts in my lifetime. "The 7th Day Of July 1777" begins with beautiful acoustics, something King's band has always excelled at with every work, and transforms into a raging elegy of homicidal horror. "Omens" creates a colossal, but hollow groove through which the mischief of spirits and portents floats through like a nexus, and "The Possession" has some fist shaking, angry rhythms below Diamond's eccentric poetry.
'On the very next morning
When the mist was eaten away by the sun,
Miriam grew hour by hour, and Jonathan he cried.
He knew the ghost had been telling the truth.'
"Abigail" is another classic imprint into the King's discography, with more of La Rocque's unforgettable riffing and a rather complex, winding structure that helps progress the story. "Black Horseman" is the album's final piece (not counting bonus tracks for the CD editions), intro'd with a fine acoustic elegy before the powerful, glorious rhythm guitars enter, once more beneath the moonlit melodies.
This is how you build a metal record, and it's difficult to find any fault unless you're an avid despiser of the falsetto vocals employed. There are more quality riffs on this single album than most bands can produce in their career, and it's but one in a long change of masterworks produced by this creative individual and his rock solid backing band during the latter half of the 80s. Even if you're listening to the original release, before any remasters, the album is beautiful, and impeccable. Though I slightly prefer 1990's The Eye for King's as the masterpiece of his career, Abigail is a reasonable argument, more than worthy of the honor.
Highlights: Press Play. Once the disc has stopped spinning, press Play again.
With the same line-up and encouraged by the acceptance that Fatal Portrait received from the fans, King Diamond released in 1987 one of the best, if not THE best, albums of their career, by the title Abigail. This is their first whole concept album and it tells of a horror story, of those that King particularly loves. A true nightmare unfolds through the lyrics and King’s “insanity” is fully revealed. The music that dresses the album, besides from being one step ahead from its predecessor, claims a theatrical character as well. Every side of the story comes alive through the inspired performances of King and the paranoid guitar riffs of Denner/La Rocque, whose role has been upgraded, something that straightly reflects in the music content of Abigail.
The small Funeral intro is the beginning to this nightmare. The first riff of Arrival enters and the song develops into a heavy storm with the guitars changing place at the front line. King diamond changes his singing tones so often and with such great ease from low to high and the atmosphere is simply horrifying. A Mansion in Darkness follows at a faster tempo with sharp guitars and clever breaks, so confusing and luring at the same time.
The Family Ghost is another heavy track, no so fast but steady and firm. Its solo is one of the best in the album, brilliantly composed and excellently played. The 7th Day of July 1777-now that’s a strange title-begins with acoustic guitars but shortly after the metal riffs fill the air as King unveils the plot of the story. Mickey Dee has always been a skillful drummer and he strongly proves it here with his hard drum playing. It is one of the top moments of the album both in context of music and lyrics.
Omens is THE song of the album. “Deadly omens” screams King with his shrieky voice while the guitars, bass and drums bomb your brain with heavy melodies as the killing goes on with each song. I think it is among the best five compositions of the band and one of the best in heavy metal. The Possession comes next with strong and firm bass and drums, but it loses points due to a break in the middle that sounds a bit strange. It’s just a tiny flaw compared to the perfection of Abigail…
…Which is the title of one more masterpiece in the album. The oriental intro is kind of surprising but SO damn good and inspired. The guitar work is just amazing here. It is as if the duo has been playing together for years. There is also a wonderful keyboard section that is basically the songs fade-out which has fitted in perfectly. The closing song is called Black Horsemen and, how strange, is a fantastic epic of 7:30 minutes. Many changes in rhythm, breaks, solos the lot, is to be found here. It’s a musical maze and only when it ends can you find your way out.
Abigail is a perfectly well balanced album with all the songs being way above average. It set very high standards for their future albums and it established King Diamond as a band. Every fan of Mercyful Fate responded to its’ unholy call creating a solid fan core for them. This is their best release by far.
The first King Diamond song I ever heard was "Give Me Your Soul", off his album "Give Me Your Soul...Please". I saw the music video for it on Headbanger's ball (same way I first heard In Flames) and laughed my ass off at how pathetic the video (and everything about it) seemed. I researched his music, and wondered how anyone could enjoy such terrible music. Eventually however, I grew to respect King Diamond to some extent after I had a quick lesson in traditional metal with Dio's "Holy Diver". Eventually I decided it was time to give a King Diamond album a shot, so I downloaded one of his albums (the way I usually get into a band I'm not sure about as money is extremly tight for me at the moment), the classic "Abigail".
The first thing I heard was a creepy keyboard opening behind a creepy old woman's voice. Very cool. Then we hear a Emperor-like symphonic keyboard melody. The song immediatly launches into a metal track called "Arrival", which's opening riff is utterly classic. Then we hear King saying something like "That must be it!" followed by a really cool guitar solo. Finally, in comes King's vocals. His lower vocals sound identical to Attila of Mayhem (always a plus), and his high vocals are some of the most epic falsettos ever. King also helps pioneer extreme metal vocals here, with black metal shreiks and some Chuck Schuldiner circa "Scream Bloody Gore"-esque death growls commonly appearing on the album (the former being far more common than the latter) in songs like "Omens", "Abigail", "Black Horsemen", and many more. I don't know about you, but the fact that he uses all my favourite vocal techniques (death growls, creepy deep singing, and falsetto) really gets me attached to this. He's no Mike Patton, but he's not far behind.
The guitarists on the album are Andy LaRocque and Michael Denner. I have no fucking idea who Michael Denner is, but Andy LaRocque played guitar on Death's "Individual Thought Patterns", which if I remember correctly, contained some of Death's coolest riffs and not to mention some kickass solos. Here it really shows, too. His solos and riffs never get old. For instance, the main riff to "The Family Ghost" is the perfect traditional metal riff (and the solo later in that song is really cool too), and the intro to "7th Day of July 1777" (stupid name for a song though) is pretty sweet, and the solo later in that song shows some really cool neo-classical influence (always a plus for a solo).
The main problums I see here are the fact that nothing really stands out exept for the vocals and the guitars. The drums and bass can be heard without much strain, but neither ever does anything truly interesting or noteworthy (making it a musical problum, not a production problum). The music is still good though, even if it's a little biased towards what people typically focus on in music, with little extra. There are also keyboards, which supply a very symphonic element to this album. I'm reminded of Emperor's classic "In the Nightside Eclipse" on this album, the way the keyboards were
This is a concept album, obviously. Oddly enough, it was King Diamond's first concept as a solo artist (if you could really call this his solo carrer). Odd because the concept is very unifying, and every song easily ties together and there's not a million different ideas lying around on the table that all go into completly different places, yet the ideas all sound fresh and new, like the band had a shitload of inspiration when they wrote this, which takes alot of time to master.
Overall, although slightly overrated, King Diamond's "Abigail" is a suprisingly solid work of what I like to call "blackened traditonal metal". It's not only good, but also very fun, and good to listen to on a dark night when it's storming, or at a halloween party.
"Abigail" (for it's awesome neo-classical riffs in the beginning and awesome use of black metal vocals and keyboards, probably the best track here)
"Omens" (for the crazy falsetto vocals in the chorus where he sings "Deadly...OMENNNNSS" and the heavy opening riff)
"The Family Ghost" (for it's overall catchiness in all aspects)
"7th Day of July 1777" (for it's epic sound)
"Black Horsemen" (for the really cool intro, and the amazing acoustic guitar solo)
...King Diamond may have done it in '87. In 1985, the year metal masters Mercyful Fate split up due to Hank Shermann's antics, King Diamond shored up Timi Hansen and Michael Denner from the broken Fate, found Andy la Rocque and Mikkey Dee, and last but not least, got to work. The next year, King Diamond released Fatal Portrait, a great solo debut even if it was inferior to its Mercyful Fate predecessors. This time though we get a wonderful concept in full form, starting a chain of fully-conceptual King albums.
Abigail is undoubtedly one of the greatest albums of all time. The first thing I want to call attention to here is the picture perfect song writing. The first two King Diamond albums are more straightforward than his later technical, a style which I personally prefer from King albums. Like Fatal Portrait, though, it still has it's progressive, ever-changing songs, which is actually a good thing. The album wouldn't be quite as classic if it was just an unintelligent, straightforward romp, would it? So what we find here is the perfect balance: less simplistic than Fatal Portrait, but nowhere near as technical as the sometimes overbearing "Them". Don't get me wrong, though, nothing is plain and simple here!
The vocals of Kind Diamond are as astonishing as usual, perhaps even more so than on their debut. The tendencies on vocals are probably half high-pitched notes and half demonic, low growls, which is more reminiscent of the Mercyful Fate days than on Portrait, which is mostly dominated by higher pitched vocals (that was fine though, considering how freakin' awesome both of his styles are.) Placement of vocals varies, using his amazingly wide range on all tracks. In other words there won't be a song where all he uses is his low vocals, or vice versa. The King's vocals seem to be either hated or loved, no in between, which comes as no surprise to me; why would anyone have an open mind, anyway?
Guitar is performed flawlessly. The tone is always right for the music written, which is a sort of dark and gritty sound. The galloping rhythms don't take the King's vocal spotlight, which is mainly due to the incredible quality of the production. Solos and leads are awesomely played, and they prove that you don't always need to be breaking the speed of sound to come off as heavy. And trust me, there are plenty of solos to be had here; an average of 2 or 3 per song, to be exact. Bass is performed adequately by Timi Hansen, and you can hear it in all the right places, the nooks and crannies between vocal and guitar rhythms and parts where there's not much else going on axe-wise.
The drums on Abigail marks Mikkey Dee's best performance with King Diamond. What makes them so great is not so much that the drums sound extremely good due to the production value (which they do), it's the placement of the drums, specifically where they are. Every cymbal, every beat is crafted and placed with care. Chalk another one up to the expert writing of King Diamond. He really never fails. As for production, I've already alluded to the fact that it is excellent in pretty much every way. Every instrument has the right tone and the perfect volume. Now for the tracks...
Funeral is the standard King Diamond intro, and it's remarkably similar to the one on Fatal Portrait. It does open up the story pretty nicely, however. Arrival is the first real track. It opens up with a rather long intro of fast and flashy guitar solos in quick secession. Arrival introduces the excellent vocal verses on the album, which are always catchy and smartly written rhythmatically. A Mansion in Darkness is one of my favorite King tunes, and keeps that catchy verse streak going. It is one of the more simplistic, classic metal songs on the album. The Family Ghost is the first of two completely progressive songs on Abigail. In fact, the only repeating factor of the song is the vocal rhythm of two lines, and that is only used thrice in the song.
The 7th Day of July 1777 is a memorable song lyrically, but musically it's nothing exceptional. Nice guitar work, though. Omens is an awesome song, and it is very forcibly performed. You can really feel the raw metal power radiating off of this masterpiece, which can be said about the album in it's entirety, I suppose. The Possession is the shortest real song, and it is also the album's most simplistic. There's definitely some haunting material in there. Abigail (the song) is pretty progressive, and it goes along a similar formula that Arrival takes. It is also nearly the same in length. The closer Black Horsemen is a masterwork, and it is progressive through and through. The slowest and most atmospheric of the album, Black Horsemen clocks in at about eight minutes, and it's the perfect way to end the album.
Newer versions (most notably the Roadrunner 25th anniversary edition, which includes a bonus live DVD) include original b-side Shrine, and like Fatal Portrait's b-side The Lake, it's of extremely high quality and I can't believe it didn't make the original album. The 25th Ann. also includes rough mixes of A Mansion in Darkness, The Family Ghost and The Possession, which are so close to the final mix it is impressive. It's all a very good package, either if you get the newer rerelease or the original copy.
Well, there's almost no topping this album, really, it's just too incredible. I don't just hand this score out, after all. Abigail is undoubtedly the best King Diamond album, and in my opinion, there is some really big competition among his catalog, making best King album an incredible distinction. The vocals and all instruments are just performed brilliantly and written expertly. Abigail is not only a must for King Diamond and Mercyful Fate fans, but it is essential to any metal fan. Just sit back, enjoy the music, and headbang!
While I don't worship or love Mercyful Fate (nor King Diamond's voice), I was very interested in this record, mainly because its concept. I love occult themed stories and such, so witches, corpses, ghosts, spirits, etc. are good subjects to talk about on an album, in my opinion. The incredible average rating of “Abigail” here on the Archives (NINETY-EIGHT PERCENT) also persuaded me to give some spins to the record, after all, an album with so much positive review must be good or, at least, decent, isn't it?
First of all, I have to praise King Diamond for not including stupid, pretentious interludes on “Abigail”. The biggest reason why many concept albums are so bad is because of those pointless little tracks that are just there to show more things about the story to the listener; in my opinion, a good concept album doesn't need stupid interludes, what really matters are the SONGS, the real songs. Again, this record deserves some extra points just for that fact. The lack of interludes also give to the real songs more, how can I say it, “individual power”; basically, you can listen to this record as a whole or individually, and the listening experience remains great, which is a thing not very common on other concept albums.
Although not being a special King Diamond fan, I must say that his performance here blows away his works with Mercyful Fate. While I think his falsetto is a bit annoying, I admit that his voice is powerful, fitting the music very well. His lyrics, while not speaking anymore about funerals and Satan (fortunately!), are great on this record, they are very clear and tell the story perfectly. And what is the story about? Basically, it speaks about Miriam and Jonathan, who are married and inherit a mansion. In that mansion died Abigail, one of the main characters of the concept... Ahh, and I won't spoil the story further, so better listen to the album or read the lyrics, right?
Another superb thing about this record is the strong guitar work, there are amazing solos and riffs on this piece, giving to this album a very special power metal flavour at times (check out the beginning of “A Mansion in Darkness”). The drumming is also top notch, Mikkey Dee being the sticksman and what a drummer he is! Dynamic, energic and technical at times, a very good musician indeed - if he was bad he wouldn't be with Motörhead now, right?
Highlights? A small (and creepy) intro, driven by some keyboard lines, leads us to “Arrival”, one of the best songs of the album. I simply love the lyrics, with King Diamond's vocals complementing them perfectly well. This song has a very special atmosphere too, it's like we are really living the story, it's just amazing. “A Mansion in Darkness” follows and is another tremendous song, the beginning of it wouldn't sound out of place on a power metal album. “The Family Ghost” is decent, being the next tune. “The 7th day of July 1777” is my favourite song, though, it begins very softly, with some good acoustic guitar lines (later repeated on the last track, “Black Horsemen”), progressing then to a headbangable metal section, complemented by a majestic King Diamond, singing the somber lyrics. The chorus is pretty addictive too (“And he push her down the stairs... too diiiiieee! NO! She crieeeeeeeed!!”).
And now the low points... “Omens” is the worst of the bunch, an aimless song that carries one of the most annoying chorus ever. God, that's horrible. “Abigail”, the title track, is decent and so is “The Possession”. Both are extremely forgettable though. “Black Horsemen” tries hard to be an epic number but it fails, being a solid track but not the masterpiece that many say it is. It has an excellent middle section and outro though, so it's far from a filler.
This last part of the record is what really kills it. The whole listening experience is extremely harmed by it and so is the durability of “Abigail”. Nevertheless, this album is a good purchase for any power metal/heavy metal fan out there and if you like King Diamond's vocals... Even better!
Best Moments of the CD:
-the middle section of “A Mansion in Darkness”.
-“Beware of the slippery stairs... You could easily FAAAAAAAAL and break your neck!”.
-The chorus of “7th day of July 1777”.
One last word to the remastered version of this record: I recommend to get it instead of the original version, not only has some bonus tracks but also has a better sound and the music really benefits from it. A recommended record, get it and enjoy this creepy journey.
“And that's the end of another lullaby... Time has come for me to say goodnight...”
Since I have the highest respect for Mercyful Fate I really delve into King Diamond’s music with slightly lower expectations. I don’t know why that is considering that Andy LaRocque has been the driving force of King Diamond’s solo career the whole way. Andy LaRocque is one of my all time favorite guitarists due to his insane shredding/soloing skills along with the super tight speed metal riffs.
This album holds truly holds its own to the early Mercyful Fate classics “Melissa” and “Don’t Break the Oath” and even manages to sound distinctly different from those two metal milestones. King Diamond’s voice is for the most part falsetto throughout the whole recording, but if you’re familiar with Mercyful Fate or King Diamond, this should not really be a problem. He does use some mid range singing but not that often. That’s one of my complaints about this album: not enough mid range vocals from King Diamond (they are among my favorite).
The songs are all faster than mid paced and the drumming is very well executed. Denner and LaRocque have amazing chemistry and the guitars flow effortlessly. This album is worth buying for the solos alone. The story is pretty good, but nothing really spectacular. What makes this album amazing is the musical talent behind it. Considering this was released in 1987, I would say it is way ahead of its time.
The production is crystal clear with an emphasis on the vocals and guitars. The drumming is very well done and the bass is actually audible (and very good as well). Synths are used on the song “Abigail” and they aren’t cheesy at all, they add a very eerie atmosphere to close the excellent song out. “Black Horsemen” opens with a very beautiful dual acoustic section and is a great way to end the album. All in all, this album is mandatory.
King fucking Diamond. Who doesn't know this guy? In addition to fronting the original Satanic messengers of metal, Mercyful Fate, he started using this solo outlet to weave his powerful, dark, and horrifying conceptual tales, all while providing some rightfully boot-to-ass heavy metal along the way. This was his sophomore album, and my very first experience with the King's work.
Abigail is a concept album, as many of King's solo efforts would turn out to be. It carefully weaves a story of betrayal, deceit, and demonic possession into the speedy, occultish heavy metal trappings the music boasts. Every time I get into one of King's stories, I always think they'd be such great horror flicks in comparison to the tripe we're force-fed today by Hollywood. All of them are intricately woven, with a surprising sense of storytelling mastery in the lyrics, which is very impressive, considering most other lyricists in the metal world couldn't even dream of bringing a story to life like King does here. Once "Arrival" cranks up, you're drawn into the 18th century, where an evil spirit is about, lurking in the shadows...and then there's really no drawing out until the final notes of "Black Horsemen" recede into the night.
Musically, this album is fiendishly consistant. A short intro piece to lead in the assault, and then the destruction begins, 8 solid tracks of hard-hitting, melodic and dark heavy metal, backed by King Diamond's instantly recognizable falsetto. You won't find a single weak track here, since this is short, fast, and powerful. There isn't really any room for fillers or duds, since this is a mere 40 minute album, and King's songwriting prowess was more than enough to keep it going. Although he could've certainly kept it up for another 20 minutes and I'd never get bored. And while the solos and riffs are certainly there, enhanced with a sleek and melodious production, they don't overwhelm the songs at all, nor do they fade into the background to let the story shine, as they sometimes would on later offerings. No, King had created a wholesome album full of rock-solid songs that will never grow old in the least.
I mentioned King's vocals, but I feel that I should go a bit more into depth on them. For the un-initiated, his voice is really not like anyone else's in the metal scene. It's unmistakably King Diamond, and anyone else who even tried to sound like this would most likely be labeled as a poser or a pale imitator. While in the Mercyful Fate days, he utilized both a deep growl and a shrieking, window-shattering falsetto, here he mainly sticks to his falsettos, throwing in a few multi-tracked vocals and harsh, demonic rasps for variety and extra effect in the storytelling. It works, too, for no other voice on the planet would ever work belting out the lyrics contained here. I must mention that Andy LaRocque was already a master soloist, shredding like there's no tomorrow. His solos always did give me a power metallish vibe, although it's very vague on this disc. The riffs are crunchy and well produced, even thrashy at times, and always headbangable. The drums, courtesy of Mikky Dee, are absolutely world class, keeping up the beat with energy to spare, and they sound great. So musically, this is no slouch either.
This album is indeed rock solid with no real flaws. But I can't help but view this as a sort of...stepping stone, for King's later works. It's a blazing, screaming assault of heavy metal mastery, and everything is very well played, but I don't think this is the zenith of King's profession. His music still had a lot of room to grow on this album, and his storytelling would also mature quite a lot. This album to me sounds like a youthful explosion of energetic metal, just like most of the rest of the 80s was, and it was only King's sophomore effort, which makes it even more impressive. Most bands can't make such solid albums 10 years into their career, and here was King showing them all up with class and style along with the aforementioned metal mastery. However, as I stated, King had a lot of room to grow. I don't consider this the best King Diamond release, for later he'd become an even more prolific songwriter, with more varied and musically proficient songs, better vocals, and improved storytelling grandeur. But it's still essential, so, go get it already.
As most of us can admit, King Diamond’s debut album, ‘Fatal Portraits’ wasn’t that good. In fact, it quite disappointed me. But then, a year later, it was made up. Abigail was released, becoming an instant classic. No one can deny that ‘Abigail’ beats ‘Fatal Portraits’ by miles. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that ‘Abigail’ beats any King Diamond album. This album has it all.
Firstly, let me state that this album has a huge lack of fillers. From beginning to end the songs are great. Some weaker than the others, but all highly above average. For instance… this album boasts the two unforgettable King Diamond classics, ‘A Mansion In Darkness’ and ‘The Family Ghost.’ Both these tracks are two out of three of my favorite King Diamond songs. (The third one being ‘Welcome Home’ from King Diamond’s “Them” album).
King Diamond’s vocals are unmatchable. His high falsetto voice fits in with the shrieking guitars perfectly, and when the atmosphere has the need for it, he can sing very well in his lower range as well. His choruses are catchy as hell, and don’t seem to be in the least bit annoying. I say this because before I heard King Diamond’s voice and someone described it to me, being as high as it is, I imagined something along the lines of Mickey Mouse on helium. That is definitely not the case here. If there’s one thing that’s perfect on here, that would be the vocals.
But no, that wouldn’t be right. Vocals are definitely not the only thing that is perfect on this album, as the guitars sound fucking amazing as well. Andy’s guitarplaying improved by far since ‘Fatal Portraits’ and throughout all of the ‘Abigail’ album we are given unforgettable riffs and amazing sophisticated solos. I have to stress this fact, the sophistication of the riffs and solos. They never get boring, no matter how much you listen to them. That is one of the most amazing things about this album. No matter how long you listen to it, it grows on you some more each time.
Of course, the production is amazing as well. Crystal clear vocal; perfectly mixed guitars and percussion. It all works together very well. No one part is too loud of too quiet, which I find happens often on older metal albums. But not here. Amazing production creates the amazing listening experience that is King Diamond.
Lastly, there is the story line. Because yes, I think I forgot to mention, this IS a concept album. I won’t go into details about the plot, so let me just summarize. King Diamond tells the story of Abigail, who was born dead on the 7th Day of July, 1777. She was nailed to a coffin and guarded by the Black Horseman so she may never cause evil again, until a couple, Jonathan and Mirian LaFey, relatives on the dead baby, unknowing of the horrors which took place in the mansion, decide to move in. The plot, although not specially sophisticated, it IS interesting and I always find it a nice addition to the album.
So why not the perfect score? There is one small thing about the album that I do not like, but I simply cannot put my finger on what it is exactly. Don’t get me wrong; it’s an amazing album. It’s just that when you listen to the whole album beginning to end, although each song by itself is a classic, something doesn’t seem to fit in. Either way, it’s a great album, and a worthy purchase: King Diamond’s best work to date.
This is THE essential metal album of all time, in my opinion. My personal favorite, not only from the King himself, but of all metal and non metal albums included, this one truly owns! After the experimental ‘Fatal Portrait’, the traditional Mercyful Fate rawness was eliminated completely, making a brand new sound that would define what the King Diamond band was all about. This time, the album concept is taken to full extent, telling the tragic story of two lovers, Jonathon LeFey and Miriam Natias, as well as the album’s main character, an evil, little bitch named Abigail. Every detail about this album kills, from the story, to the guitar work, to the bass and drums and ESPECIALLY the vox, kicking your ass in its entirety. Here’s more about the album…
Funeral - Is this not the best intro ever?! What you first hear are mystic keyboards, and then the spine chilling narrative through the voice of O’Brian, leader of the Black Horsemen. After the spoken part is through, wild keyboards kick in, mimicking the sound of violins before fading out, and then…
Arrival - BANG! A metal beast is unleashed, stunning the listener with Andy’s awesome guitar riffage, giving an actual mental image of a horse drawn coach pacing down the roadway on a dark and stormy night. The music pauses for a while and then you hear “That must be it!”, followed by some serious speed metal, giving yet another mental image of the coach speeding down the roadway towards its destination. This is a fast, furious, and melodic, catchy tune that will keep any metal head drawn to the speaker, as well as the next song…
Mansion In Darkness - This one kicks in without warning right after ‘Arrival’, like a punch in the face. This song is speed metal mania, probably the fastest song on the album and definetly one of the best, if not, THE best. This monster never slows down, only changing tempos temporarily in the middle of the song just before the blazing solo, but other than that, it’s pure speed metal to bang your head to.
The Family Ghost - A killer, groove riff by Andy starts off this track before taking it into all out heaviness and a wide range of vocal harmonies. I know that King has a wide range vox in just about every song he has ever done, but the vocals on this one are done extremely well and are quite over the top. My favorite part of the song is when it speeds up in the middle and Andy does that psychotic solo just before King begins “Beware of the slippery stairs, you may easily FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL, and BREAK YOUR NECK!! AHAHAHA!!”. So yes, this song kills, as well as the music video for it.
The 7th Day Of July 1777 - The classical guitar intro to this one is beautifully done, mixed with synths to give the listener the right mood. It doesn’t stay this way for long, because before you know it you will either be banging your head to one of the heaviest songs King has ever done, or you will be covering your ears. This one is a real skull crusher, being the heaviest on the album, just all out INSANE! Riff after riff after riff…non stop! Mikkey Dee does some serious beating on the drums for this one. A wild, monstrous tune that never lets down until the very last second of King screaming in his falsetto the word “JULYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!”
Omens - The story kicks into overdrive with this song, telling how evil occurrences begin happening around the mansion. King’s vocal range is exceptionally outstanding on this one as well as Mikkey Dee’s drumming, with him blasting out various beats, making the drums the highlight of the song.
The Possession - Wow, what a rhythm! The way this song starts off is awesome with a cool, driving beat done with a combination of groovy guitar riffs and some serious drum pounding. The story here is at its peak, though I don’t want to spoil anything for someone who hasn’t heard the album. There is a even a mid classical guitar solo in the middle of the song instead of the traditional metal solo, giving this track that uniqueness among the rest of the songs here.
Abigail - Ahh yes, the legendary title track. Probably the catchiest song on the album and ever since it came out, it has become a favorite among the live crowd. King’s best vocal work on the album is either done on ‘The Family Ghost’, ‘Omens’ or this one. His loony, madman laugh in this tune is the best he’s ever done in any song, and the keyboard usage on this track is the best on the album. A rather legendary song this is.
Black Horsemen - This is the album’s epic ending, and the best song on the album. (Bah! I actually can’t decide which one is better, this one or ‘Mansion In Darkness’) Beautifully melodic and catchy, mixed with speed metal and classical guitar work all through out the entire song. By quality, this is the best song King has ever done solo. Hmm, speaking of solo, the ending guitar solo is godly. It’s not the fastest on the album, but it’s definetly the best here, and perhaps the best solo ever done by Andy. This track is over 8 minutes long but the listener will never get bored even for one second, I guarantee you that.
Shrine - If you own the remastered version, you’ll get this track (originally a b-side on ‘The Family Ghost’ single) and the raw versions of ‘Mansion In Darkness’, ‘The Family Ghost’, and ‘The Possession’. They are just rawer than the final versions which is the only difference, so I won’t bother reviewing them since they aren’t much different. As for this song, it kicks ass! That’s all I really have to say about it.
There you have it, King’s best album and the greatest metal album of all time. If you’re new to King’s material, I suggest you get this one, and if you’re new to metal in general, get this! If you already like King Diamond and/or metal and don’t own this…..::bitch slaps you twice across the face::
I was only 11 years old when I first heard Abigail when it came out back in 1987 (when nothing like it had been done before).
I had been listening to metal of the day such as Motley Crue, Poison, W.A.S.P., Scorpions etc etc, and had never heard of King Diamond before my older brother bought a copy of the cassete home from a friend's house one evening.
As an 11 year old boy, I was intrieged by the equisitely dark cover work and the dark sounding names of the songs coontainsed no the cassete.
"You can't tell mum or Dad I've let you listen to this!" he explained to me as we shut ourselves in his bedroom and turned out the lights, lighting only a single bedisde candle in order for us to see his tape deck as we inserted the tape and pressed play, waiting for the light hiss to finally dull down before the hauntingly beautiful title track 'Funeral' opened up the album.
I was stunned by the sound of the first track, but in saying that, I was hoping that the whole album would not be the same, as it was beginning to really give me the fucking creeps!
My brother softly assured me that the album changed pace, that 'Funeral' was only an interesting opening introduction to the story of poor young Abigail.
By the time the brilliant drumming and excellent opening solo-work of 'Arrival' opened, I was hooked and it was all I could do to stop myself from standing up and headbanging away (As we did back in 1987, as kids!).
With our parents in bed, and us trying to keep the noise of "ABIGAIL" down, my brother and I experienced something musically that night, call it even magical if you will, that I have certainly never experienced again, in the many years of my metal-listening experience both as a listener and asa preformer myself.
As for the rest of the album? Well... all I can say is that King Diamond has sadly never reached the highs that he did on ABIGAIL, not even on the nearly as-good-as ABIGAIL II: THE REVENGE.
Nor, do I think he ever will.
King Diamond had masterfully crafted and magically woven a tale of haunting beauty as well as terrible pain and suffering on this '87 classic of metal.
Never befote had anything like it been done, and never afgain will I feel the power and magic that is... ABIGAIL.
Considered by many to be King Diamond’s first great release, Abigail is a tour-de-force of concept based CD’s. Most of you know probably know, or are familiar with the basis of the story for Abigail, but in case you are not, it tells a horrific story involving possession and betrayal set in a 18th century Mansion. I won’t go into specifics to spoil the story if you’re not familiar with it, but rest assured it is very interesting.
The first thing that is apparent when listening to Abigail is the guitar work. Andy LaRocque and Michael Denner absolutely smoke on every song, especially LaRocque. Just listen to the riffs and leads on “Arrival” and “A Mansion In Darkness”; the guitar work on these songs contain some of the catchiest and dark melodies of their time and still hold up well today. Other songs are very good from a guitar stand point as even a slight technical flair can be heard on “Omens” and present on almost every track is at least two or three leads, some which feature Denning and LaRocque taking turns. Denning is a very good player but even LaRocque one-ups Denning with his melodic and shredding solos and riffs. Meanwhile backing this all up is Timi Hansen and Micky Dee who make for one hell of a rhythm section. Hansen provides with some very catchy and audible bass work while Micky Dee pounds away with well-done double bass and semi-technical patterns. Of course, this is all delivered with some excellent production. I’m not sure how the remaster sounds but the original is not bad at all. The sound is a little muted like most 80’s release but the bass is audible and the mix is very good.
Song arrangement wise, Abigail mixes more progressive and technical tracks with a couple of songs that are a little more straight forward, but not simple. Typically speaking these songs are up-tempo, especially “The Possession” which probably features the most double bass, along with pounding riffs. Meanwhile the closing track “Black Horsemen” is a well-crafted progressive track with an acoustic break in the middle. Like him or not, there is no denying that King Diamond’s vocal delivery is truly unique. The King uses his falsetto a lot on here and it works well since most of the lyrics are spoken dialogue by a character in the story, so this helps add a haunting and ghostly presence to the CD. And that’s one of the highlights here: the atmosphere. Whether or not you’re reading along to the lyrics, the songs give off an aura and atmosphere that fits the topic perfectly. It’s a combination of the dark riffs/melodies and Diamond’s vocals which do this and they work in conjunction with each other on a very high level, which goes to show the clever song writing that is present.
Overall the strong point of this CD is the song writing and arrangements, not in one particular individual aspect such as the guitars or vocals. It is the combination of everything that just fits so well. Every change up and break is placed well and each song has something to offer which makes listening to Abigail multiple times enjoyable. That’s not to say that the leads aren’t amazing, or that vocal phrasing doesn’t fit very well, but the song writing is the main thing here because without the quality song writing the story and atmosphere wouldn’t be able to come to life, which in my opinion would ruin the whole King Diamond experience.
Low points are few and far between, "The 7th Day Of July 1777” is probably the weakest song though it does have a memorable chorus, and there are a couple of vocal lines that don’t fit well together, but Diamond still did an excellent job singing the dialogue in a way that fits the music. This is one of those releases that Heavy Metal fans should definitely own because it offers a lot on many different levels.
Song Highlights: Arrival, A Mansion In Darkness, The Family Ghost, Omens, The Possession, and Abigail.
I just recently managed to get my hands on this masterpiece of an album. I've been listening to King Diamond/Mercyful Fate for a while now, and out of all the albums I've heard, Abigail is the best so far.
With the line-up above, the band couldn't do anything wrong. Mikkey Dee left to join Motorhead, but the Diamond-La Rocque combination was all that was needed to keep the band intact.
You may be thinking that due to this album being released in the 80s, that it is a cheap, cheesy metal affair - on the contrary! This album is 100% cheese-less. The guitar work is clean cut (on the remastered CD) and many of the riffs have been "borrowed" by other bands since this album was released.
To classify King Diamond as simply Heavy metal is not possible. Throughout the album, there are melodic vocals and guitar work, along with dark, atmospheric moments. It's hard to pick a favorite track, because they are all excellent. "The Possession" or "Black Horsemen" are probably at the top of the list for my favorite tracks on the album. Both have clean guitar work, along with some heavy parts - makes for a lot of headbanging!
However, I feel I cannot give this album a perfect score. There are some parts that just don't seem to fit in. Still, it is a classic metal album that you should check out.
After the fairly weak debut Fatal Portrait King came back with the godly Abigail. One of the best metal albums of all time, Abigail is King's first full concept album. Abigail tells the story of a stillborn child that must come back to make things right after her mother is murdered before she is born. That's all I'll say because you really need to learn it for yourself. Andy LaRocque really grew between the two records. His performance hear is godly, tons of shredding neo-classical solos and great melodies. Michael Denner is also improved since FP though this is his last King Diamond album. Mikkey Dee is also much better then on Fatal Portrait. His great double bass and killer fills are now in full form. Timi Hansen's thumping basslines are also more pronounced. After the very creepy intro, Funeral, Abigail kicks off with one of the songs on the album, Arrival. Similar songs, Mansion In Darkness, The Family Ghost, and The 7th Day of July 1777 also kick massive ass. The albums epic closing track, Black Horsemen, rounds things out on this great album. But the story doesn't end with Black Horsemen, we all know it continued on Abigail II:The Revenge. The RoadrunneR reissue features a great song not on the album, Shrine. It didn't fit the story so it was left off. It also has rough mixes of Mansion In Darkness, The Family Ghost, and The Possession. You must own this album, if you don't then may King have mercy on you.