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Warning: This first paragraph includes spoilers about the story of 'House of God'! You may want to skip straight to the second one. Let's start now... Upon the cross, the claimed son of God did not die. He was smuggled to Southern France. For him, a church was built. Now, centuries later, the story forgotten or taken as a fable, a man winds up in a mysterious church. Something is not right, even though he finds a most beautiful woman. Together they share pleasurable moments, but even the intoxicating wine doesn't take the feel of something otherwordly away. Soon, catacombs are found. Presence of some kind of ancient evil seems to get stronger, unbearable...
The story of legendary King Diamond's ninth musical equivalent of horror books and movies is obscure, but somewhat ill-conceived. Also musically. Of course, the story and the music intertwine. Last album 'Voodoo' (1999) was great, both as musically and as a story. 'House of God' surely has its moments, but it's not a solid work. Pure heavy metal with a lot of atmospheric interludes, like King has always been, this is partly highly enjoyable, partly okay-ish. However, this is still a good King Diamond album, and a good metal album in general. Frightening parts, beautiful parts and everything from between those can be heard. Guitarist Andy La Rocque and Mr. Diamond himself are responsible for this whole thing. I personally crave for this kind of heavy metal, old school heavy metal, if you excuse me. King Diamond albums always have something bloody enjoyable in them. King Diamond, the vocal narrator, does it all great here. No annoying voices this time, but a few funny ones, which are part of his personality. Extremely high-pitched falsetto singing, low vocals and his normal voice (he is an okay singer, not a very good one) make King Diamond a vocalist one likes or not. Very demanding.
While the music is great for a big part, the production ruins something (done by Messrs Diamond and La Rocque with Kol Marshall). The sound is clean and harks back to the "good old days", but flat. Powerless, lacking of low-end. While guitars (Glen Drover being the second guitarist) and bass (David Harbour) are professional, drumming (John Herbert) is ballsless. Mr. Herbert doesn't sound like a metal drummer. But, to his defense I have to mention, that drums sound flat and cymbals are somewhere there, if one listens carefully enough. The flat production has plagued many a King Diamond album in the past, and sadly, this is no exception. The artwork is also drawback this time around. Very boring when compared to 'Voodoo' or let's say, 'Them' (1988).
King Diamond followers can't miss 'House of God'. Those who want to check out King Diamond's legacy should start with 'Abigail' and 'Abigail II - The Revenge' (1988 and 2002 respectively). Or with my favorites 'Conspiracy' (1989) and 'The Eye' (1990). And let's not forget 'Them'...
(originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com in 2003)
For the follow-up to Voodoo, King Diamond brought on a few new hard hitters, including Canadian axe wizard Glen Drover and another former Chastain/Leather alumni in bassist David Harbour who had worked with John Luke Herbert before. This was unquestionably a stronger lineup than the last one, though it would be sadly short-lived (Drover, Herbert and Harbour would all depart before Abigail II) since Diamond and LaRocque would start waxing nostalgic. House of God is also arguably one of the most interesting albums in terms of its concept, but I'd think of it not so much as a 'horror' record, but a conspiracy theory involving a bit of the supernatural, and by that I mean a shape shifting temptress, a Faustian bargain and the preserved body of Jesus Christ lying in the crypt of some old French church.
No, it's not scary, but really, were ANY of King Diamond's albums 'scary' unless you were the sort that jumped in his/her seat at the sight of Freddy Krueger? Perhaps in the right mood, by candlelight, Fatal Portrait might grant me a few shivers, but really, I have never turned to Petersen's lyrics and music for an A-great chillfest, instead I just really love the guy's music (for the most part). At least the narrative here feels relatively fresh territory for the King to explore, we needed a respite from the usual ghost story and he gave us one. I will say though that the creativity of House of God expands beyond its central concept to the actual music. I'm not sure if it was so much the new members, of if they just found Voodoo a bit too redolent of their past works, but the riffing set used for this Y2K doesn't feel as derivative. Not that House of God is all that well written or more than faintly memorable, or that the guitar progressions are that unusual for a mix of thrash/power metal, but at least this felt like a 'new' album.
In terms of its production, this is slightly less atmospheric than Voodoo but thicker and appreciably juicier than the dry spell that had been The Graveyard. A lot of clean, bold chugging sequences permeate cuts like "Black Devil" or "Help!!!", and Harbour has a copious tone which moves and grooves beneath the rhythm guitar. The man himself, King Diamond delivers a pretty anguished, straightforward performance that, while not exceeding any of his legendary displays of falsetto prowess in the late 80s, at least manages a fine balance of shrieking and mid-ranged, venomous narrative, nicely layered across a few tracks. There are some pitch shifted, goofy vocals in the intro "Upon the Cross" or "Black Devil" that are so ludicrous that they create an instant hurdle for anyone to care about the album's theme, but otherwise the atmospheric shorts like "Passage to Hell" or the ghoulish, gliding vocal/lead guitar arrangement in "Goodbye" feel pretty true to the form of past interludes. Organs and keys are still used occasionally but not a prominent feature of the core metal songs.
Most of the guitar lines are just downright simple, which isn't in itself a negative or unexpected trait, but sadly this translates into a fair degree of mediocrity here. You get some pedestrian chugging, some decent glazed leads, but nothing bordering on the chilling atmosphere that once dominated an album like Abigail or "Them". I laud that this doesn't seem like much of a rehash of safer times, but even the last album Voodoo had a better selection. As such, pitifully few of the songs here manifest anything bordering on a catchy procession of notes that demand constant replay. I've seen some of the tunes performed live, and they fit in well enough with the backlog, but there are no 'hits' on this album whatsoever, no individual cuts that I'd include on a King Diamond playlist on my iPod. Like both its predecessors, it just doesn't seem to age all that well, and I had to blow a fresh layer of dust off it before this listening/review.
It doesn't surprise me that this was never given a highly positive reception by the fan base, and if I'm not mistaken it even sold less than the two preceding albums. There are a couple good, screamed vocals lines and a few of the leads pop right out of the mix to sweeten the ear, but even taken in as a whole it feels like the band's songwriting was still in the same slump that it had experienced since about 1991. But ultimately, it's not a 'bad' album like The Graveyard, merely an average affair. It's never dull enough that would anger anyone, and in the background it provides an accessible, acceptable King Diamond experience, just not one that either evolves the boundary's of the bands style for the new century, or features the brilliant level of composition that thrust him into the naughty nightmares of shock metal fans in the 80s. The lyrics and the theme of House of God are actually quite mature and stirring when compared to any of the other albums, only mildly dweebie due to King's usual affection for character dialogue; they ask some interesting questions, but unfortunately the music does not.
“House Of God”, as I understand it, sort of straddles the line between the newer and older King Diamond releases. Musically, the band seems to have had a bit of a return to form (to my great relief) after the somewhat lackluster “The Graveyard” and the decent “Voodoo”. The music tends towards the mid-paced and driving riffs that gradually carry the main character of the album into madness by its completion. This is actually a relatively varied work, and there's a variety of song types and tempos to be found.
Without touching on the story much (as anyone who's listened to or read any other review for this album will know, it's a twist on a DaVinchi-code-ish fiction), I'd say that I was at first underwhelmed by the character of this album in comparison to KING DIAMOND's previous releases. After another listen, I realized that this is due to the fact that there's really not much horror or suspense to be found in this album. It's more a madness/insanity building series of songs, and this is portrayed extremely well (ol' King plays a great crazy man), as there's some astounding vocal performances on “House Of God”, and I can only imagine what this album would be like to see performed live.
Instrumentally, “House Of God” is good, and that's more than I've been able to say for the last two albums. The band really moves back to showcasing its prowess on this record, as is more the case with a story that is less dark. “The Pact” and “Just A Shadow” are both rocking tracks that benefit from good songwriting, great rhythm guitar parts, and well-placed solos. “House Of God” is a very important story track for the album, and is well-executed as well, with a slower beat, some excellent solo work, and an emotional performance by King himself. Unlike the previous couple of albums, there's also a lot less filler material due to the nature of the story. This pretty much results in the band rocking hard the whole way through.
Good, not stellar. Better than KING DIAMOND's last two releases. It still doesn't have the raw energy, catchiness, and off-the wall attitude that “Spider's Lullabye” does, though it's undoubtedly a solid piece of metal. I personally would prefer “Voodoo” to “House Of God” as a good story to listen through, but the latter has much stronger solo material and is heavier in general.
Originally written for www.metal-observer.com
'House Of God' is undoubtedly one of King's best releases. However it also marks in my opinion the end of the best part of his career.
Like most of King Diamond's work, it's a concept album, with some would say a modern subject which gained a lot of hype due to a lot of books and films about it. Nevertheless the plot is solid and is told again from King's point of view, who now impersonates a traveler in Southern France. It seems useless to retell the story, having been outlined in all of the other reviews but anyway it shows the traveler's discovery of the real story behind the Bible. It is well written and easy to follow through the album.
The songs have the classic rhythm changes of all of King's albums, and feature besides a great guitar work from both LaRoque and Drover a very good vocal performance from King Diamond who alternates very skillfully between the low parts and his trademark falsetto.
'House Of God' starts off with 'Upon The Cross' which sounds a little like 'Funeral' from 'Abigail', and sets the atmosphere for the story to unfold. Of course taken individually the songs wouldn't all be very appealing, but as a whole they bind into a good album. The plot actually begins in 'The Trees Have Eyes', which has everything you'd expect from King Diamond: good riffs and even better vocals. 'Follow The Wolf' doesn't live up to it's predecessor and is merely a linker between the previous and 'House Of God'; this could be regarded as a semi-love song with a moderate rhythm which fits perfectly to give a more solid base for the whole story and again has very good solos from both guitarists.
'Black Devil' is where the second part of the album begins and has a very catchy beginning riff (as in all of King's songs, the rhythm quickly breaks and makes way for other riffs and solos which make the songs less interesting if taken individually). This is again a passage to 'The Pact' which is a highlight of the album both because of the music itself but also because of the lyrics marking one of the important parts of the story.
'Goodbye' is the classic mid-album song and can again be regarded as a love song; I for one think this is where King's later obsession for flying and butterflies started :)
If 'Goodbye' was uninteresting and you've just waited for it to end, 'Just a Shadow' and 'Help!!!' have a very good pace and are very good at creating the setting for the last part of the album, the character gradually losing all hope and becoming desperate about his fate. 'Passage To Hell' is another low point in the album as is 'Catacomb' which don't impress much except for a fast paced ending of 'Catacomb'; but this part had to be on the album for the story's sake as it should be one of the turning points...
The final part is probably the best one and features the best song on the album: 'This Place Is Terrible'. Not only does it have the best lyrics part perfectly interpreted by King but it also has an instrumental part to match it. It gradually increases in tempo and tension, ending with the traveler's denial of the 'unknown God' and choosing of the best way of solving his ideological problem: 'Up, up the grey cold stairs, up into the tower of Hell, with a rope in my hand, I'm searching for the unknown land'. 'Peace Of Mind' beautifully shows the state of calmness and spiritual rest reached, as it is a beautiful slow instrumental ending.
After 'Voodoo' the fans expected something at least as good as that and 'House Of God' managed to fulfill those expectations. It is a very good album, and a great one especially if you're a King Diamond fan.
This is my second favorite King Diamond release (my favorite being Fatal Portrait), not only because of the musical prowess on display here, but also because of the story's topic. The opinions of the author of this album in regards to religion have been known to me for more than 12 years, so one would surely ask, what would a guy who is a student of Thomist theology and a once a week church attending Catholic be doing listening to the music of a member of the Satanic Church. Well, to explain it I must quote Saint Thomas Aquinas himself, "The test of the artist does not lie in the will with which he goes to work, but in the excellence of the work he produces."
King Diamond's little tale here, in terms of historical perspective, is a more mystical/horror based take on the story that is presented in "The Da Vinci Code". Although historical evidence of the nature of the events discussed in both the story and this album are lacking, one would have to take some things into account when considering the possibility of this. Pontius Pilate was, according to Gospels themselves, taken aback by Jesus and may well have had the motive (especially considering his desire for political expediency) to create a show crucifixion where Jesus may have been replaced with a body double. The problem is that the means to do this would have been difficult as you would have had to find a double convincing enough to fool Jesus' own mother in order to accomplish this. But despite problems with the historical aspects of these stories, they do make for good reading and a believable work of fiction.
The music on this release is probably the most diverse and well conceived that King Diamond and Andy La Roque have ever come up with. The opening track has a quasi-Middle eastern sounding tinge to it, as does the mini-epic rocker "Catacombs". You have more classic sounding rockers like "The trees have eyes", "The Pact", "Black Devil" and the quasi-Judas Priest sounding "This Place is Terrible". Meanwhile, songs such as "Goodbye", "A Passage to Hell", "Just a Shadow" and "Follow the Wolf" have more progressive elements to them, and also some dramatic vocal performances. "Help" is, without a doubt, one of the most insane vocal performances I've ever heard. And we also have a rather beautiful instrumental to close the album, provided by La Roque, which has some rather odd sounding ambiences at the very ending.
One particularly interesting aspect of later King Diamond material, particularly the post-Them era has been the use of atmospheric devices to aid in setting the album concepts. On earlier works, keyboards were often used sparingly at the intros (if at all), and acoustic/clean electric guitars were not often to be found. On this album, we find both Diamond and La Roque doing some rather impressive keyboard work, in addition to a rather believable choir of wolf howls on track 3. Stand out atmospheric tracks include “Upon the Cross“, “Follow the Wolf”, “House of God”, “Help”, “A Passage to Hell”, and the outro.
Now as to the lyrical content, the story has some rather interesting philosophical themes at play, issues of love and judgments made on a code of values. Many reviewers on this page have focused on the issue of religion, but I think that this merely scratches the surface of what is something a bit more down to earth. One of the beliefs held by the Satanic Church (I am well read in their doctrine, which may surprise many) is that of egoism, of taking both accountability for one's own self and reaping the rewards gained. The problem for this doctrine is that they have many contradictory inspirations, particularly that of Ayn Rand and Nietzsche. And, ironically, the former seems to have been fully embraced while the latter is only briefly touched upon. Ironic in the sense that most followers of the church tend to focus more on Nietzsche's irrationalism and more emotion based sense of morality rather than Rand's rational egoism.
SPOILER ALERT! (Don’t read the next 2 paragraphs if you wish to discover the story for yourself).
The main character, whom finds himself in the situation of choosing between allowing his new found love to die or to sacrifice his own life to save her. This brings many questions of personal morality and values, particularly the value judgment of how to see the one you love. Unlike the collectivistic love for all humanity at the expense of yourself that often paints the views of more political idealists in the metal movement, this take on valuing others is highly egoistic, in the post-Aristotelian sense. Dying for one person who you couldn’t see yourself living without is, in fact, a highly self-motivated and self-centered act. However, it is also among the most moral and most human of acts, and this is where I can find some sympathy for the views of this particular member of the Satanic Church.
The issue of the main character’s demise is obviously a further extension of Diamond’s rational egoism. When you have discovered that the religion that dominates humanity is a lie that continues to infect the earth with mindless destruction, and that you have the choice of either dying or continuing to live and forced to serve it, there really is only one moral choice. We also learn, by the words of the main character before he hangs himself, “Father of the universe, here I come!”. Before I heard this album, I had different ideas about King Diamond’s beliefs on such issues as metaphysics, but it appears I had greatly under-estimated him. This indicates a very Deistic take on religion and God, one that reminds me a bit of such enlightenment thinkers as Voltaire and Thomas Jefferson. Most of these thinkers, ironically, took their Aristotelian influences from the writings of Aquinas, Magnus, and the other Dominican thinkers of the 13th century, the same ones that have influenced me.
In conclusion, this is a highly significant work of art, by my own personal aesthetic and ethical estimation. It is one of those few metal albums where I can grasp into the morality argued within the lyrics and identify with it on a very high level. The best way to describe it is as post-Enlightenment/Ayn Rand style rational egoism, surrounded by an amazing canvass of keyboard ambiences, ghostly vocals, thudding drums, and driving guitar lines. Some may argue that the rating I’ve given this album is way too high, but I think this is a highly under-appreciated and often misunderstood album. I recommend it highly to fans of metal, of all genres contained within, this is an album that deserves your undivided attention.
Obviously this is the most obscure release of King Diamond. This is straight forward, second degree, uninteresting piece of work, even in the lyrical part. The tracks just give the impression that they are only the drafts, not the final outcome that should have been produced. This looks like as if all work was handled by King Diamond and Andy LaRocque themselves, and not a slight input from other members, not even giving a soul to the music as they recorded it. This is lacking all kinds of spices that King Diamond was adding to the meal, and also is the lowest point King has descended in his entire discography. Since The Spider's Lullabye, it was obvious that all was not going very well for him, and House Of God marks the spot where he hits the ground and bounces to the heights once more to make Abigail II. Even those keyboard oriented pretending-to-be-creepy tracks are just plain boring. Definitely not King. I wonder under what circumstances this album was composed and recorded.
The main drawback of this album is the newbie playing of drummer Hebert, which puts all other members in the newly-formed-college-band position. The drums are the most important part of the music, it gives the aggressiveness, the tempo, every other thing metal music needs. But no, Hebert is just hitting and kicking something at the back, with no use to the music.
As I go through the songs once more, it seems as if King and Andy are really all alone in this one, and that other members have alienated from them. This line-up is indeed not suitable for what King has to offer.
The Pact and Help!!! are the best tracks of House Of God, but when it comes to overall King Diamond music in his career, hey, I have been through other King Diamond songs, and who the hell are you deceiving?
If this album didn't have the King Diamond logo on it, it would surely be forgotten in at most a year, and the band would have remained as a local one. I believe King himself approves my opinions, since I have been to a few gigs, and heard none, or one track from this album. The Deadly Lullabies doesn't contain one, too, while there is plenty of old stuff in all their playlists.
15 points for the album and x2 for King's being my all time favorite with those albums in the past, in his solo career, Mercyful Fate, and Black Rose.
Over the past few years, yours truly has often expressed his negativity about King Diamond's vocals, including on the Encyclopaedia Metallum. Still, I am not at all keen on his vocals, but it goes without saying that his qualities as a songwriter are almost unmatched. In addition, he has the unbelievable ability to gather musicians who are also almost unmatched around him. Andy LaRocque, who plays on all of his albums, is one of my personal favorite guitarists, but through the years he has had his share of killer guitarists, bass players and drummers in his self-named band. In this case, the 2000 'House Of God' album, the second guitarist is Eidolon's Glen Drover, a highly respected musician by yours truly, while the rhythm section is made up by David Harbour (bass) and John Herbert (drums), a very solid rhythm section.
And all those musicians, as well as LaRocque and King himself, do the job very well! It's not a very popular opinion, but I personally think 'House Of God' is the best album King Diamond has ever made. The band went far across the point of stagnation in the nineties (the compilation 'Nightmares In The Nineties' seemed to be a painfully fitting title), but seems to have picked up where they have all left it in the new century. 'House Of God' sounds traditional and trusted, but doesn't sound "all the same" by any means. Instead, there is this refreshing approach to the whole thing that makes the album sound spontaneous and especially ready for the new century. For instance, the gothic/horror intros and interludes have been exchanged for things that take a slightly more industrial approach and that seems to fit the band quite well. Maybe a part of it is also that Glen Drover is one of the biggest King Diamond-fans on this planet, and therefore tried to push him into a direction he would love the most, as a fan...but that's just a theory.
And if that wasn't enough, 'House Of God' also houses the best story ever on King's concept albums. Although I must admit that I wasn't all that into his quite cheesy horror stories, the stories got interesting for me at the time when there was a more psychological approach ('Them', for example, was nothing but a really stupid story to me before it took a different twist on the 'Conspiracy' album) and that is exactly what happens on this album. The whole story is a bit more realistic than all the others (excluding 'The Eye') as well. I still don't understand all of it, but it contains all the trusted King Diamond elements, but adds something more human to the whole thing. There is even some romanticism thrown in, as well as the protagonist going insane near the end of the story. The music and, surprisingly, the vocals portray that perfectly.
Now that I mentioned them, the vocals aren't nearly as disturbing as on all the other albums to me. The high pitched screams actually seem to have a function when King tries to express the insanity of the protagonist in 'Help' and 'This Place Is Terrible'...in fact, the way he screams the very last words of the album ("THIS PLACE IS TERRIBLE!!! AAAAAHH!!! *insert dying sounds*) couldn't have been done better by anyone else. And his normal clean vocals aren't as off-key as in the early days either, King definitely seemed to have improved in that matter. He's still no Glenn Hughes or Paul Rodgers and he will never be, but at least there is some progression.
Surprisingly, it wasn't the first couple of tracks that were the very best of the album. Surprisingly, as this is usually the case with King Diamond's albums. Not that opener 'The Trees Have Eyes' is a bad song, not at all, it's a nice traditional Metal song with some nice gallops all throughout the song and some triumphant trumpets thrown into the chorus. And of course, there's the typical King Diamond aspect of mood-setting riffs that are only used in a song once, but set the mood perfectly. No one has ever died from a little complexity.
But the first real highlight of the album is the fourth track, the album's title track. 'House Of God' starts out with a beautiful guitar solo over some organ parts, which prove that this is one of the emotional highlights of the album. This is where the protagonist falls in love and the music fits that quite well. This is no ballad though! It's a powerful, emotional Metal song full of great guitar riffs, great solos and, who would have ever thought I'd ever say this about a King Diamond album, wonderful vocal lines! The way he screams for his "Angel" near the end of the song just tears your heart to shreds. Simply amazing!
What follows is a series of highlights, with here and there a song that is just good in between. Especially 'Black Devil' and 'Just A Shadow' are some of the best Heavy Metal tracks I have ever heard! As if the nineties had never taken place! Proud, forceful Heavy Metal like it sounded in the glorious eighties, except that these songs have a much better production. Both songs have some of the best riffs I have heard in a long time and once again, the vocal lines are surprisingly good. 'Black Devil' is blessed with some great transitions and Glen Drover's pre-chorus guitar fills and the riffs in 'Just A Shadow' should make every old-school headbanger smile with delight. That's what it did to me at least!
Another highlight for me personally is a song called 'Help!!!'. Don't let the simple AC/DC beat throw you off, or don't let it fool you anyway, this song has a lot more to offer than it might seem to have to offer in the first place. King once stated in an interview that he had the guitars switched off while singing his lines to this song and I can understand why, the protagonist's insanity which seems to build up throughout this song is breathtakingly displayed by a stellar build-up in the guitar work! It's a very nice song to mutilate the muscles in your neck to as well!
In the beginning of this review, I have mentioned the insanity that builds up near the end of the perfect closer 'This Place Is Terrible' in the vocals, but the instruments do that very nicely as well. But what is even more beautiful is the typical Andy LaRocque-instrumental 'Peace Of Mind' that follows. A moment of sheer beautiful tranquillity, decorated by some very nice guitar work like only Andy LaRocque can write it round off the album in style. 'Peace Of Mind' is also one of the highlights of King Diamond's discography, I don't care that it's just an outro, it needs to be said. It's beautiful!
But those are just highlights to an album of which the level is consistently high. I still think it would have sounded better if someone with a lower, more powerful voice would have sung this album, but the compositions are absolutely flawless and I can't say this enough: I think it's King's best album. Before 'House Of God', there was only 'Fatal Portrait' and 'Abigail' that in my opinion came close to this one and after 'House Of God', the band would continue the 'Abigail'-saga in a way that was interesting story-wise, but a weak attempt to copy the original musically. After that, there was 'The Puppet Master' which is actually nearly as good as 'House Of God', but the level is almost impossible to equal.
Instead, before he could drown (that's how crucified people died; their lungs filled up with fluid), he was rescued by Mary and his disciples, where he transferred to Gaul (modern France) and set up his own kingdom for him to reign over his followers. That is the story crafted by the master of horror King Diamond in his 9th studio album. An interesting concept, to be sure, but how would the story play out?
The good news is that if you love the King's gothic horror concept albums, you'll most likely enjoy the story that goes with "House of God." A man travelling through France is confronted by a wolf, who leads him to a chapel with the words "This Place is Terrible" carved upon the door. The wolf turns into a beautiful woman, and after several days of endless kinky sex, she reveals that she is the guardian of the church, and tries to convince the narrator to take her place . Pretty cheesy, eh? WRONG! This album is pretty damn scary, I'll admit that I was sweating after the first time I listened to the album all the way through; in the darkness with only a couple of candles providing enough light to read the lyrics. Despite an obvious Lovecraftian influence, the story is well written and is easily comprehendable, even the surprise ending. I won't give it away, but let's just say that we find out Jesus wasn't everything that the Bible claimed him to be.
As for the music itself, though, this album disappoints, although not so much at first. After an haunting intro, we are treated to "The Trees Have Eyes." King Diamond shines in the strong, harmonious chorus, and guitarists Andy LaRocque and Glen Drover each provide a cool solo. "Follow the Wolf" starts out with clean guitars and a light melody before the head-bangable riff kicks in; with Andy LaRocque providing another awesome solo. And at this point, the album falls off, with "Just A Shadow" being the only decent song, despite the main riff being a bastardized version of the riff from Aerosmith's "Draw the Line." One big difference between this album and "Voodoo" is that the guitars are slower and nowhere near as heavy. The riffs are stale and the solos are pretty much throwaways and rarely interesting, leaving us an album that consists of third-rate rock songs; they aren't even heavy enough to be considered metal. I'm not really sure what changed in the two years between "Voodoo" and "House of God," but for whatever reason, the almost-thrash of "Voodoo" and the awesome solos of "Them" are gone. The only commendable performance is done by the King himself. He still goes from low growl to high-pitched scream with ease, nearly 20 years after the first Mercyful Fate demos surfaced, but his strong performance isn't enough to save the album.
Sadly it would continue to go down from here, with Abigail II: The Revenge tarnishing the image of one of the greatest metal albums of all time. R.I.P King Diamond: 1985-1998.
King Diamond's career has been focused on writing tales in a mysterious way. They all talk about witchery, occultism and basically horror. House of God is a new propose lyrically. It pretty much tells a new concept of what would have happened if Jesus had survived to the crucifixion. Kind of like "The Last Temptation of the Christ" but with a different story, pretty much concentrated on Jesus' love life, confusion and laments.
The Album starts with a nice introduction song called "Upon The Cross", which tells what is going on. In the background spikes can be heard while a possessed voice leads us to "The Trees Have Eyes". A great song with a cool riff and the distinguished King Diamond vocals. Glenn Drover as led guitarist brought a new sound in this song. Actually in the whole album. As it proceeds, "Follow The Wolf" is the song that turns the album into a mysterious love pact between Jesus' and this secret Angel who get together finally in "The House of God". The song that brings the title to the album. It is a beautiful song. The Intro is pretty sad but glorious at the same time. King is heard like "lamenting his happiness" in this song because the music is melancholic but the lyrics are totally expressing other things. When the lyrics and the song is put together the result is a beautiful sappy song. "Black Devil" would be the little man sitting by the altar who's coming to take Angel away from Jesus. The music is very basic. Nothing new. Even though I've found this song to be blues ( not really). "Black Devil" is not as powerful as "The Pact". New and fantastic riffs. It really made me feel like if I would have been there. It is time for Angel to walk away, and that's basically what expresses the next song entitled "Goodbye". Church organs used to accommodate the song. All the instruments went sad. And they all sound so mythological together. Anyways, saying goodbye made Jesus an unbeliever and it is expressed in the song "Just a Shadow". "Help" is a curious song. It does make you sing along, but it is not so amazing. I particularly think this song was made to make people jump around in concerts like most of the songs in "The Graveyard" album. "Passage to Hell" is what leads us to the end of this phenomenal story with “Catacomb” and “This Place is Terrible” showing Jesus’ will to commit suicide, and show also the meaningless of god and finally find the “Peace of Mind”, which is an interesting instrumental song to end the album.
To conclude, Diamond’s 9th album is a total masterpiece. A must for all fans. Glenn shredding is quite interesting too. Not compared with other great King Diamond guitarists like Pete Black or Michael Denner, but is notorious that Glenn is a great man with his own sound which is what contributes. The vocals in this album don’t change very much, but who needs to change them. It is King Diamond! It wouldn’t be so cool if King Diamond sang different. I consider this album not to be Religious or Anti Religion. It just tells the story of this man in Diamond’s point of view. It is like someone else relating a new tale containing Countess Bathory’s adding new things to it and that. As a King Diamond fan, I think this album is a good contribution to his discography.
- Claudio Berith -
Hell no! If anything, this album is totally anti-religion, telling King's own personal beliefs through this horror/mystery concept, his best concept up to this point. The whole moral of this story is how religion deciets, and how false it actually is, similar to the way the concept of The Eye portrays it. Personally, I happen to think that this concept also displays how love deciets people, just as well as religion. Musically, this album is definatly up there with the classics like "Them" and Conspiracy.
Upon The Cross - And the entire moral of the album is forshadowed here. The big queston. What if Jesus did NOT die on the cross? That would change everything about religion and the way religious folks think. This is an awesome, very dark and harsh narrative to start off the album.
The Trees Have Eyes - Think back to Dressed In White, with the Maiden-ish bass lines...this song is quite similar, having those Steve Harris-ish bass lines, as well as that infamous Maiden galloping riff. Of course, once the high falsettos kick in, you know damn well this is no Iron Maiden, or any other band for that matter. Kick ass tune all the way through. King is top notch performance here, delivering INCREDIBLY melodic and catchy vocals that flow so damn well with the song, that you'll have no choice but to just love what you're hearing, KD fan or not. This may indeed be the best song on the album.
Follow The Wolf - After a phenominal start to the album, it now goes to its weakest point. Now don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad song by any means, but it doesn't quite live up to the standards of the other tracks. It starts off with a slow, acoustic guitar followed by sweet, soft falsettos...and then....BANG! The drums and heavy distortion kick in, starting off pretty kick ass but then fading into no more than an average KD tune. But for some odd reason, many fans seem to absolutly love this song.
House Of God - Church organ keyboards and slow, neo-classical rffs kick off this badass tune. King's vocals are enchantingly melodic and set the perfect mood for the listener, the type of mood that forces you to wanna make love inside of a beautiful, gothic church. By far one of King's best ballads, and ya know...it kind of reminds me of Mercyful Fate's power ballad, Melissa, though not quite up to par with it.
Black Devil - Holy shit! This riff kicks ass!! Man, this one gives The Trees Have Eyes some STRONG competition. The riffs and rhythm are just infuckingcredible, giving you an intensly strong urge to wanna headbang or airplay either the drums or guitar. God damn, this one is a real killer, and that's all I have to say about it. >:)
The Pact - Whoa, nice groovy riffs. This is another one of the album's highlights, as well as one of the most underrated KD tunes. Killer bass lines, as well as some very upbeat riffs through out the entire song. As far as the story goes, this is where the tradgedy begins...
Goodbye - Yes! Love decieves us all!! A soft, heart wrenching tune dedicated to anyone who has been hurt or decieved by love. This song is very majestic, consisting of nothing but keyboards and vocals sung in a very sad tone.
Just A Shadow - Holy...Hell!! This intense galloping riff just strikes out of nowhere, even more powerful than the galloping riff in The Trees Have Eyes. The verses and chorus in this tune is all out amazing, just wonderfully done, leaving this track stuck in your head for who knows how long. As far as the most powerful tune on the album goes, this would have to be it.
Help!!! - Chaos....instanity....all out fucking crazy. Jeeze, just look at the title. King actually sounds as if someone is beating him to death here, and it fuckin' rules! It adds to the chaotic and mad mood that this tune was meant to deliver. It's very choppy, with the same riffs and beat repeating through the entire song....but I guess you can say that also adds to the mood of insanity. "Help!! I'm bleeeeeding nooooowwwwww.".....hehehe, that line rules.
Passage To Hell - This is just a short bridge tune that leads us up to Catacomb. This track builds up a lot of intensity, forshadowing that something bad will happen next.
Catacomb - Well, nothing really terrible happens here as far as the story line goes. The song is very steadily paced, with melodic and catchy riffs through out the first half of the song. The second half speeds up a bit more, but overall, this tune is no more than average compared to the majority of the album, yet, it's hailed so much by many other KD fans, just like Follow The Wolf. I have no idea why...
This Place Is Terrible - By far the most insane, wicked and chaotic tune on the album. It begins at a fast, steady pace and leads us up to the ultimate album epic. Yes, that is what this is....out of ANY King Diamond album, this song is definatly the best album closer, especially for an album such as this one. The lyrics are so deep, and mysterious, that it's as if King's entire view of religion is expressed in this one song. I mean, the lyrics are just out of this fucking world. And towards the ending of the song, you can just feel the mental pain and insanity that the main character is going through. This may not be the fastest or most aggressive song from KD, but it's by far his most wicked and insane. I can't tell you exactly what ends up happening to the main character, but this tune ends with the infamous "Yaaaaaahhhhhhhh....... ::choke:: ::cough:: ::splurt:: kaaaphc.c..c."
Peice Of Mind - A nice little classical tune written and performed by Andy, the best classical/metal guitarist since Randy Rhodes. After such an intense previous tune, a soft tune like this is definatly essential for the listener to hear.
The godly Voodoo is now followed by House of God. While not up to par with Voodoo, House of God is still a great album. As always House of God is a concept album, in my opinion King's best and most unique. HOG tells the story of how Jesus didn't die on the cross and went to France and built a church. The main character finds this church and finds out the truth. Very bizarre. The line-up again shifts but this time for the better. Replacing Herb Simonson is Eidolon-shredder Glen Drover, the best guitarist King's had since Peter Blakk. Bassist David Harbour replaces Chris Estes. Unfortunatly drummer John Herbert is still present. King's vocals are still godly as always. The great intro Upon the Cross starts off HOG on a very creepy note. Then one of King's best songs The Trees Have Eyes starts off the first real song. Other great songs are Follow the Wolf, House of God, and Help!!!. Help!!! is very catchy and you might catch yourself singing along. The album's two best songs are Catacomb and This Place is Terrible. This Place is Terrible is the key point to the story and I'm still trying to figure out exactly what he's talking about. King really should have made it into two songs and maybe it would be easier to understand. Andy and Glen shred away in every song and there's plenty of songs for all the shred freaks. The ending track, Peace of Mind, however, is just a guitar melody by Andy and is quite haunting. Diamond fans should have this and though certain people don't like it I really don't care it's great and ties The Eye for number six in my favorite King Diamond cds.