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“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