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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)