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Vital Landscape - 90%

TheZombieXecutioner, January 13th, 2013

After departing from the legendary Mercyful Fate, front man King Diamond decided to start a new project that would soon become legendary themselves. This album is different from the rest of the 80s King Diamond material, mainly because it is mostly simple straightforward songs. This being a radical departure from the almost progressive "Don't Break the Oath" and later King Diamond albums. On the bad side of things The King's voice seems a bit restricted and less theatrical than it could be. But simplicity isn't all bad, The King supplies some great hits and hard riffs that make this album very enjoyable.

First off, The King's voice is a bit off on this record, as if he wasn't using his vocals to its full potential and theatrical capabilities. Its not all bad though, he does give some great notes and vocal lines on, "Halloween" and "The Jonah". In the middle of "The Candle" The King does some random falsetto breaks that are really weak, which is probably the lowest point of his vocals on this album. On the flip side, "The Portrait" and "Halloween" have some decent theatrical performances that foreshadow future albums by The King. The variety in his voice isn't quite there either, staying mostly in the high to mid-high section, but it is still enjoyable overall. The lyrics are overall decent, with an okay half concept story line. Lyrics other than the story like, "Lurking in the Dark" are pretty cool and have a great feel to them. "Charon" is actually mentioned in the Mercyful Fate song, "Satan's Fall" using the same imagery of Charon taking you across the river Styx that give the lyrics a recycled feeling. Then there is "Halloween" which is a holiday classic for the whole family with some cheesy lyrics and if you have the reissue you get another special holiday treat, "No Presents for Christmas" which is even cheesier and is a great holiday tune for the whole family.

Bass is supplied by none other than Timi Hansen in which he does a great job on some of these tracks. "The Candle" and "The Portrait" have some great bass lines that show Hansen's bass style that peak out into the mid section and break through the mix. "Haunted" is another with a great lead bass line in it than makes the groove really shine. The end of "Halloween" has, what sounds like, a slap bass section that is very loud and brings the song to a great conclusion. In the end Hansen has a great style and tone that really gets a chance to show off on this record.

Michael Denner and Andy LaRocque provide guitars on this record and do a solid job. Supplying great riffs like that on "Halloween", and the most laid back King Diamond riff ever, on "The Jonah". Songs like "Charon", "Dressed in White" and "Halloween" the music is very simple and straightforward than normal King Diamond standards. The songs are still enjoyable but it can be predictable at times .This album does have a few complex songs on the first half of this album like "The Candle" and "The Jonah" that are easily the best on the album. Other than riffs the guys provide some great solos on "Dressed in White" and "The Candle" that really fit well in the song structure. Main songwriter, King Diamond himself shows his guitar skills on "Voices from the Past" which is an short song that seems like The King just wanted to show that he can play guitar too and decided to make a short moody track. Some acoustic guitar is shown on "Haunted" that seems kind of out of place and is only there for a few bars, as if it was an after thought to put it in. Overall the guitar work is low in intensity but provides some solid riffs and some interesting solos while still being accessible.

Drum master Mikkey Dee really doesn't do anything that special on this record. He provides some decent solid beats that keep the song moving but he really doesn't do anything to stand out from any other drummer. I guess Dee didn't have any room or ideas for awesome fills and beats that he would do on later on for the simple direction of this album . Though a rather disappointing performance from Dee, his tone is really great. His snare is nice and loud and a great snap and his kick drum is very audible with his double bass work.

In conclusion, this album should be heard by any King Diamond or Mercyful Fate fan. This record is full of great riffs, great bass and solid drums. But sadly The King's voice isn't up to par and the song structures are mostly simple and somewhat predictable. Don't expect the over the top King Diamond trademark but instead be ready for a simpler and more accessible experience.