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One of the originators of atmospheric, occult metal, KING DIAMOND has once again returned to claim his throne as the king of dark heavy metal. With his new album “Give Me Your Soul…Please” King has brought to life an ominous thirteen chapter-tale into the unknown. This album shows King penning the type of story he does best, a ghost story. The man’s most-herald albums, by fans and critics alike, were “Abigail,” and the two-album story of “Them” and “Conspiracy.” Those albums had featured certain spooky characteristics that would make the listener’s skin crawl and blood chill. “Give Me Your Soul…Please” revisits many of those same facets.
First and foremost, all KING DIAMOND/MERCYFUL FATE albums feature King Diamond’s haunting vocals. Although his vocals over the last few albums are not as strong or creepy as his early, classic era, his repertoire of voices still makes the man sound as if he possesses multiple personalities. King still manages to reach a ghostly falsetto pitch. The falsetto used in combination with his normal, mid-range voice helps narrate the story in a theatrical way, with certain voices representing certain characters. On “Is Anybody Here” the falsetto vocals present a cry for help from the character in the story, while King’s mid-range voice narrates the story. “Moving On” shows King’s softer, more subtle vocals, singing smooth choral “oohs” and other mellifluous crooning. Unarguably King’s oddest vocal personality is a seemingly shift of gender found on tracks like “Pictures in Red.” He does, however, use genuine female vocals, courtesy of Livia Zita, on the album’s final track, “Moving On.”
King’s haunting vocals give a voice to the shadowy atmosphere he and his band orchestrates. Diamond recruited yet another great lineup of musicians from both the KING DIAMOND and MERCYFUL FATE bands to help realize this grand musical of the macabre. Reaching back to the early days of MERCYFUL FATE and KING DIAMOND, King recruited Hal Patino on the bass, who recently played on the latest SAVATAGE-led band, DOCTOR BUTCHER. Mike Wead also comes via the MERCYFUL FATE camp, although from more recent efforts. Wead fills in for Glen Drover, who appears to have left for MEGADETH. Matt Thompson rounds out the group on drums, and of course, the steadfast Andy LaRocque on the other guitar.
The guitar playing styles of Wead and LaRocque are in perfect agreement. Both bust out screaming whammy and impossible string-bending solos that relate many emotions, add a sense of drama or a touch of eeriness. The solo work is a throwback to the wicked solos on albums like “The Eye” and “Abigail,” especially due to the effects and hallow sound. The rhythm work is equally impressive, slowly following King’s lyrics like the foreboding rhythm of “Shapes of Black” or powerfully picking a classic metal and thrash riffs like the triplet riff at the beginning of “The Floating Head” and the fist-banging gallop on “Never Ending Hill.”
The third element needed for King’s mad scientist experiement he calls KING DIAMOND is the front man’s keyboard work. With his keyboards, the painted one has always constructed rich atmosphere of soundtrack quality. “Give Me Your Soul…” continues this tradition, traveling head-long into assured damnation. “Shapes of Black” features a combination of twisted harpsichord and subtle, chiming keyboard passages. “The Dead” follows the tradition of gothic organs first set down by Bach.
KING DIAMOND never ceases to amaze me. He incredulously puts out quality album after album. Some albums are remarkably better than others, and the albums he put out right before reforming MERCYFUL FATE will most likely remain he best work, although albums like “Voodoo” and “The Puppet Master” could be considered modern classics. “Give Me Your Soul…Please” should also come to be remembered as one of KING DIAMOND’s better albums in the second era of his career.