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King Diamond's solo career has been something I've been more aware of than being an outright fan of, sad to say. Shame on me, I know, but my ears were attuned to different sounds and styles all those years ago and seeking out anything Mr. Peterson has done that wasn't Mercyful Fate-based didn't seem right at the time. That, and a few too many folks I knew had clamored on that only a handful of his post-no-oath-breaking works were worth anything (I recall quite the lackluster opinion on "House of God" when it was first released), so that in itself sorta soured my expectations. However, I'm a changed man, my tastes have evolved and expanded, so back a decade or so ago I figured it was time I gave a solo King effort an honest try. Which lead me to this...
As a singular entity, "Abigail II: The Revenge" is a dark yet pleasant listen, slightly underwritten on a musical level but made up for with sheer imaginativeness and the grand scale of King's story. Then again, it feels as though a lot of King's albums are like that; strong on the spiel, less so on the rest. It could just be me, but I've found King to be a better vocalist than a songwriter in the long game scheme of things (I know he composed "Gypsy" and "Come to the Sabbath", but neither of them are on this disc, nor do the songs present stand on that level, so...yeah). The story, as we all know, expands upon the previous "Abigail" rigamarole with the inclusion of new settings, new characters and new scenarios, none of which are genial in any way. Without going into too much detail, what follows is a tale of curiosity leading to repeated bouts of treachery on a few others' parts and Abigail seeming to tap into her inner darkness and (almost literally) unleashing Hell. Blame the Little One, it was all her fault, dammit! So on that aspect alone there's plenty of twists going on to ensure that, from end to end, the audience isn't lost or their interest waning. I can't say the same for the musical end, unfortunately...
With that said, it's a bit hard to get a good and proper listen of this given how quickly "Abigail II" runs from hot to cold, then back again. While not all that far removed from the Fate, the main feel of the music seems more based on cultivating an atmosphere and lush darkness and Midnight Syndicate-level horror than heaviness, which in itself can work when done well. To wit; when the main creative focus is properly honed I'm able to block everything else out and become swept up in it all (which, thankfully, happens more often than not), where everything is on an even keel and the rest of the band plays off the story's goings on, and yet when the it takes on a more generic tone I actually found myself tuning out, waiting for any of the tastier harmonic leads and sections that make up the better parts of the album, when the group works counter to the main attraction. And believe me, there are also plenty of those to be had; when things go from milquetoast to melodic that's when the hairs on the ol' forearms stand on end, rapt with anticipatory shakes on what will happen to the poor put-upon anti-heroine, but when the opposite comes to pass you may find yourself tuning out and using this as background music for chasing your cat through the house, for even King's falsettos and voice-overs many not be enough to rope you in. While this doesn't happen all that often, the fact that it still does kinda keeps this from being as much of a compulsory listen as its predecessor was (evidently, that is...I'll get to it soon enough. Maybe...)
So all in all my first taste of the Diamond was a bit of a tough one to chew, but not one I ultimately disliked. I get what he's looking to do with this group and, given enough time, I may be back to see where else he can go and where he's been with it. Good, bordering on great in the right spots, but needed a bit more in the end.
'Sequel albums', like sequel films, are always a risky proposition, especially when they come after such a broad gulf from the first (or earlier) work in a particular series. If they were being released at normal intervals, like a serial or chain of episodes, then that would be one thing, but in the case of King Diamond's Abigail II: The Revenge, you're looking at a 15 year gap after the beloved 1987 original, which stands as one of the band's finest albums and, if I'm being honest, one of the best of the 80s, period. As we've all no doubt learned, the idea of such a sequel often runs counter to common sense. After all, there's a strong chance of alienating what might be the most important weapon in an established act's arsenal: the installed fan base. For example, look at the abortion that was Operation: Mindcrime II, which came after an even broader span of time (18 years) and failed utterly to capture the magic of the first album.
There is no doubt that, while the very notion of a followup to Abigail album might have been brewing inside the minds of Petersen and LaRocque for awhile, that nostalgia and the diminishing returns of their recent albums leading into the 21st century played their parts in the ultimate manifestation of The Revenge. It's not a bad thing that a band would want to return to the roots of their greatness, and I can hardly blame the duo for cashing in the roster of the last album and seeking to reconnect with earlier members from an age when the 'magic' was happening, but it's hardly a formula for automatic success as we've seen from a goodly number of reunions in the genre. This time out, it happens to work out for the Danes. They brought back bassist Hal Patino after a 12 year absence, and Hexenhaus/Mercyful Fate alumnus Mike Wead to replace Glen Drover, who was busy with his own band Eidolon, and eventually Megadeth. Prolific US drummer Matt Thompson was hired on to fill John Luke Hebert's seat, and they had Kol Marshall, who co-produced this record with King and Andy themselves, to contribute keys.
Abigail II is, thankfully, a rousing success, and the best of the band's albums since The Eye in 1990, slightly edging out The Spider's Lullabye. To some extent, this is due to the fact that the band have more or less returned to those aforementioned roots in terms of filling out a conceptual work with some due atmosphere, and catchier licks than they'd been creating in over a decade. This is a 'total package' sort of record, where the production, artwork/layout, track pacing and musicianship all converge to provide nearly an hour of escape to all the wayward souls who might have been turned off the band since the later 80s. Hell, just look at the cover art courtesy of Travis Smith, which is the best the band had used since "Them" or the original Abigail. Unlike the dullard cover images of works like House of God or The Graveyard, this one actually beckons the viewer back to the realm of the twilight, campy supernatural horror that King Diamond built this career on.
It helps that it sounds so magnificent, capturing the clarity of its polished predecessors but with a guitar tone that had me pining for the early years, though fully capable of entertaining a younger crowd who had, unbeknownst to their knowledge, been spoiled with a decade or more of studio enhancements. Patino never skips a beat, his lines floating like a corpse-painted manta ray beneath the rhythmic balance of Wead and LaRocque. Thompson is perhaps not a vastly more technical drummer than the two before him, but he certainly lends the album some reliable power and the production of the kick and snare seems far more vibrant here. The leads and dual guitar harmonies are out in full force, and King himself doesn't sound a day older than when he releases The Eye or The Spider's Lullabye. As I'm sure its creators were hoping, the whole affair seems like a 'second wind' had been breathed into the stagnating project's lungs.
Which would amount to squat, if the songs weren't also quite damned catchy. Abigail II doesn't fuck around with a lot of cheesy interludes pieces. You've got the intro "Spare This Life", a brief outro in "Sorry Dear", and the meat of the record is 11 tracks straight of metal-driven narrative, with not a stinker among them even if they're not written at the memorable level of some of the 80s records. A lot of the tunes are intro'd with these synth and string sections that strike like a crystal rain before the thundering surge of the guitars. "The Storm" is a fair power metal piece to get the blood rushing, but once they zip into the acrobatics of "Mansion in Sorrow" this disc picks up steam with Diamond's layered falsetto/midrange tracking and a strong momentum of the guitars. But the album thankfully never lets up, with the winding "Slippery Stairs", the freakish stop/start antics that slice through "Broken Glass" or the straight drive of "Miriam" or "The Wheelchair".
As for the story behind the record, it's the usual mayhem and murder with a supernatural undercurrent. It offers some twists and turns on the original Abigail, picking up when she's an 18-year old woman and then 'tying some loose ends', though I can't promise she comes out unscathed herself. Like many of the other King Diamond albums, it's about bad things happening to a person of the female persuasion, par for the course, though as usual it's not presented in a particularly tasteless or misogynistic way. The lyrics are fair, certainly nothing masterful but a lot better than most of the 90s records whether they're being told through brief, descriptive passages or the first person character perspective.
Abigail II: The Revenge is one of those albums I'd categorize as 'great', but never perfect. As rich and fulfilling as the compositions feel, they certainly don't breed the same 'instant classic' atmosphere that was pervasive on the 1986-90 records. It'd be hard to recognize anything here at the level of a "Burn", or a "Welcome Home", or "The Family Ghost". But nonetheless, it was a cause for some celebration: King Diamond had once again become fluent in what it does best. Crystalline, spectral horror delivered with some goddamned class and maturity, and though it's not doing anything truly original with a formula that was mastered 15 years in its past, it provided ample enough reason to get excited, once more, for what these gentlemen could summon from the shadows and the forgotten.
After then albums “Voodoo” and “House Of God”, which slightly disappointed me, King Diamond comes out with “Abigail II: The Revenge”. An album that surprised me in two ways. First because of the Mercyful Fate-like feel of especially the guitar parts and in the second place the overall mood of the album, comparable to that of “The Graveyard”.
I will be brief about the textual concept: of course the story, spread out over 13 songs, revolves around the experiences of Abigail and Jonathan after the tragic events of the first “Abigail” album, to which a lot of new elements have been added that will certainly be appreciated by the interested listener/fan.
“Abigail II” has also turned out to be a musical gem. King, is delighted with the achievements on “Abigail II” and you can certainly hear that: vocally –and this is obviously very important for a band featuring King Diamond- a lot more is happening than on the previous two, three albums as King brings out the “voices” again, and even has a six year old girl appear in “Sorry Dear”.
Partly because of the varying, expressive vocals (“Mommy”, “Broken Glass”) you can almost taste the atmosphere, something I haven’t really felt since “The Eye”. It’s clear that this album was put together with a lot of motivation, which is partly due to some new faces; First of all Hal Patino who was also in the band at the time of “Them”, Mercyful Fate guitarist Mike Wead and new drummer Matt Thompson. Songs like “Little One”, “The Wheelchair” and “Slippery Stairs” burst with the musical qualities of the individual band members, because of which the musical level of this tenth album is beyond any discussion.
And with an album once again superbly produced by Kol Marshall, with a total playing time of over 68 (!) minutes, the listener definitely gets value for his money. Bravo!
King Diamond is one of those rare cases wich you either seem to love or hate, and since I am inclined to choose the first, and managed to pick up Abigail II - The revenge over the weekend I might as well go and review it.
Lyrically this is, of course, a straight follow up to the 87 classic Abigail, while musically speaking it draws more from later albums like The Graveyard or House of God, save perhaps that it might be just a tad more complex than the aforementioned two releases.
Apart from King Diamond himself, the main star of this record is once again Andy Laroque, whose excellent riffs, melodies and brilliant solo?s form a solid base for King?s demonic shrieking and growling. New members in the band this time around are Mike Wead (whom we all known from Hexenhaus, Memento Mori and of course, Mercyful fate) and Matt Thompson while we also see the return of bass-player Hal Patino.
As usual the production is excellent too, and we get treated to a lot of eerie sound effects, adding a great deal of atmosphere to the actual story. Favourite songs this time around include the storm, Miriam and Slippery stairs. A bonus point must go to the beautifull artwork and packaging, and you can only wish that other musicians would come up with high quality stuff like this, instead of just adding a 3 paper booklet wich, in a lot of cases even miss the lyrics.
All in all, this certainly is a worthy successor to Abigail, and a must-have for long-time King fans. Expect to see this one high-up in my personal charts at the end of the year !
First off let me say fuck you to all the people who dissed this album. Now with that off my chest let's get to the review. Abigail II:The Revenge picks up where the first Abigail left off. Now 18 years later the Abigail born on the first cd is back at the mansion to pay Jonathan a visit. Though many have dissed this album it is a more then worthy successor to it's namesake and is the fourth best King Daimond album. As the evershifting line up again changes this time we have (King and LaRocque as always) Mercyful Fate/Memento Mori shredder Mike Wead, while not as good as his predecessor, Glen Drover, Mike does a fine job, better then the one he did on 9. Returning to bass is Them/Conspiracy/The Eye thumper Hal Patino and filling after the aweful John Herbert is the incredible Matt Thompson on drums. Matt IS as good (on a technical level) as Mikkey Dee but sometimes he isn't as emotional. The songs are very well crafted and the lyrics tie everything together very well. The intro, Spare This Life, is as always very eerie and atmospheric. The opening track The Storm kicks things off into high gear with a fast-paced headbanger. Mansion In Sorrow while not as good as the original Mansion In Darkness still kicks ass. Other highlight are Slippery Stairs, The Crypt (featuring a killer solo by Wead), Broken Glass, and the albums two best tracks The Wheelchair and Spirits. Both have some killer drumming and soloing and are just masterfully written. The creepy outro Sorry Dear also is quite good. If you are a Diamond fan you already have this and if your looking for great melodic metal and you haven't checked out KD yet (BLASPHEMY!) this is as good a place as any to start, though you won't get the story.