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A Grayer Masterpiece - 90%

VirginSteele_Helstar, April 5th, 2013

This is King Diamond's doom album. It is unslick and plodding and loose and lacking any of the queenly and quaint graces that its evil relations possess - counting even the Mercyful Fate family. It is a different kind of record and that's what makes it so independently charming. On "Up From The Grave", one of the best tracks, King proclaims "Here we go again my friend/Deep into my twisted brain" but what he forgets to mention is how gruesome in a more realistic sense the nightmare he presents this time is. The story is as thus; King's character catches the local mayor, a certain McKenzie, molesting his daughter Lucy and is thus committed to Black Hill Sanitarium by the designs of that malevolent and foul being. After leaving the asylum, King is critically crazy and hellbent on destroying the Mayor. He runs off to the Graveyard and spends his time wasting lives until he finally kidnaps Lucy and lures the Mayor into a trap that ultimately undoes them both.

And so the doom and gloom begins and although Andy LaRocque and Herb Simonsen don't quite borrow the riffs of Saint Vitus, the quality of dread and despair is evoked to a degree even Candlemass would be proud of. The riffing is much wilder this time, unafraid of tempo constraints, and where King Diamond songs before tended to play the prog game-you know the one where they shift the groove every few seconds-on "The Graveyard" there's no such strife. Opening tracks like "Black Hill Sanitarium" and "Waiting" thrive upon a single groove establishment and King's incredible wail to give them sail. The trademark dramatics that make a true King Diamond performance are maintained throughout; his violent shrieks are in full force as he confronts the maker of his woe on the slow crawling but heavy "I Am" and his uncanny ability to trigger both humor and horror abounds on cuts such as the keyboard fueled "Trick Or Treat".

LaRoque's leads are still fiery and harmonically rich and make highlights of tunes such as "Heads On The Wall" whose epic wall of riffs is in the style of past classics "Black Horsemen" and "Satan's Fall";"Black Hill Sanitarium" and "Meet Me At Midnight". Lyrically, there's not much in the way of pretty prose. It all reads harshly and nakedly, it is an ugly and horrific tale and I feel King tells it truthfully for what it is. Special credit also belongs to him for the keyboards. This is an album that operates mostly on feeling rather than technique and what he creates in terms of atmosphere is fucking applaudable. It adds a delicate touch to the more sensitive side of this seemingly entirely cruel tale. Plus those chimes on "Up From The Grave" are fantastically eerie.

"The Graveyard" is a masterpiece. A forlorn and forgotten one but not diminished for that fact. It may lack the essential charm of "Abigail" and "Them" but its honored place is the admirable castle of the King is undisputedly well earned. Why? Because musically, the band is still bang on top of their game albeit without a lot of the fussiness that nonetheless made the aforementioned classics, classics. And as a storyteller, King Diamond is still able to make flesh crawl with great ease.