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Let the show begin - 96%

extremesymphony, May 29th, 2013

Few people in the metal world put as much thought or efforts in their works as King Diamond. With his Alice Cooper inspired theatrics comprising of horror stories, King has put down album after album of high quality heavy metal. Which brings us to the topic King's 12th output titled The Puppet Master. Continuing on the legacy of The Eye, Them and Abigail, The Puppet Master is a cleverly crafted horror story with equally well composed music to back it up.

Among the technical performances, King is in good form. His trademark wails are toned down, but his use of mid range is very effective creating a complex mash up of vocals. The back up vocals by Livia are also very nicely done. Guitar work is great as usual on a King Diamond album and LaRoque must be appalauded for an impressive lead performance. The album consists of 12 tracks which tell the story of a guy and his girlfriend who attend a puppet show and then are captured by the puppet master and turned into puppets themselves. Cheesy and silly? Oh well it might seem so, but believe me, King can scare the shit out of most people from the silliest stories as he did on Them or Voodoo and does it again so effectively on this record. The music is composed such that fans of the band might immediately identify and connect with. Let us face it folks, King Diamond was never the biggest of experimenters in sound and rightly so for his music has always been crafted cleverly enough and tailored to his needs to match his lyrics and themes.

The album is highly consistent and rarely does a moment of mediocrity spring up. The tracks are catchy along with the mild progressive nature of the music. The atmosphere is quite dark and sad, if not very scary like that was the case with Abigail. Among the tracks, the first five tracks are absolote gems. The best of the bunch has to be the dark and complex Emerencia which contains an excellent vocal perofrmance by King. So Sad is a surprisingly good ballad featuring a duet between King and Livia. Blood To Walk is a weaker track compared with the rest of the album with a relatively very simple structure and lack of proper atmosphere.

The album is another stellar addition in the King's catalog with such gems as The Eye, Abigail, Them. The excellent storyline, though cheesy and silly at thought, is presented perfectly making the listener deeply absorbed and involved in it. Bottom-line; The Puppet Master lives up to the legacy of the King and is a must listen for all metal heads. Those who haven't heard of the King (though how this may have happened is beyond me) are also adviced to listen to this one as it is sure to serve as an excellent introduction to his dark and bloodcurdling work.

They're ready for the show - 77%

autothrall, May 20th, 2012

The Puppet Master is not a favorite of mine amongst the King Diamond canon, but by no means is it a dropping of the ball that they had, at long last picked up with Abigail II: The Revenge. If anything, this is a more richly produced album which suffers only because, despite its enormous sound quality, it doesn't have a hell of a lot of tunes which stand out in memory. Granted, Abigail II was not itself quite a match for the band's masterworks in their heydays of the 80s, but I felt there were a good 7-8 songs there that I would keep returning to, where The Puppet Master provides me with only about 3-4. Those particular choices are certainly memorable and belong on the short list of his best material beyond The Eye, but I often struggle to retain the rest of the album in my thoughts.

But gods, does this sound huge. Stylistically, it picks up straight on the ghostly vapor trails left behind by its predecessor: a re-envisioning of the band's 80s overtures with a lot of modern power to the guitars. It helps that, for the most part, this is the same lineup as the band used the year before, only with the added dimension of King's wife, Livia Zita contributing the female vocals. It's an admittedly predictable horror story here, about a pair of lovers who experience a puppet show in Hungary, only to then be turned themselves into helpless marionettes by the vile 'Puppet Master' himself. King once again introduces himself as a central character in the fable, and there are a few grisly details involving the eye sockets of characters that strike a nerve, but as usual this is not exactly the most frightening of narratives. That said, what I enjoyed most is just how well the actual songwriting captures the aesthetic of such murderous dolls, thanks to the creepy, percussive power/thrash rhythms invested into tunes like the excellent "Blood to Walk" or the dire melodies of "Emergencia".

The guitars are even louder than on Abigail II, and the level of riffing comparable, at least for the standout songs. Once again, Kim Petersen has defied the process of aging, his glittering pipes still capable of hitting the range he was exploring well over a decade before this. I give some credit that Livia's lines don't really feel like an intrusion into the mix, but they play out in a tune like "Emergencia" almost like a morbid ballet. I won't say that she's got the most memorable voice, but it sounds practiced and competent enough. It's just too easy to be overshadowed by the King himself, whose schizoid retching and screaming on a piece like "No More Me" are nearly as charismatic as anything he was producing during his prime. Rhythmically, it's also a strong effort, centered more around grooving rhythms than speed metal licks, the drums and bass quite focused on their task rather than deviating from the guitars' path; but once again this lurching, jeering sense of motion plays itself well with the narrative theme. The dolls really seem to stand up and dance around in the bloody ark of the lyrics.

If I've got any problem, it's merely that the riffs and atmosphere have been done to a far better degree in the past, and the melodies just don't seem to titillate the senses nearly as much as the old hits. This is one of those records which is so positively produced that you feel there is no help but to enjoy it, and yet after the curtains fall and the puppeteers have left the theater, I find it just doesn't stick with me. Songs like "Darkness", "Living Dead" and "Christmas" all have their moments, but I'd never actively seek them out unless I was dead set on experiencing The Puppet Master in the fullest. I was fortunate enough to get the limited edition with the DVD, which involves is King Diamond narrating scenes and videos from the story, but I can't say that it's any more effective than just reading the lyrics myself as I listen to the music and open my inner eyes to the settle and events (like I had to do for all the other albums). Still, it's a decent bonus, and in no way can I complain.

This album seemed to generate quite a lot of positive press and a strong fan reaction, which is no surprise thanks to the production and the obvious amount of love and care placed in its construction. That said, my own beaming response to the previous album precludes me from really getting all that excited, since I felt that was already the comeback I was waiting for, this didn't add a lot outside of meatier guitars and vocal levels. As for the contention I've read that this is somehow 'the best' of King Diamond's works, I must call utter bullshit. There are songs on Fatal Portrait, the first and weakest of the 80s hot streak, that I like more than all the content of The Puppet Master combined. But besides the fact that it didn't personally live up to the hype surrounding it, I will say that at least this album was no disappointment. I might not love it, or really listen to it all that often, but it was no letdown.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

If Danny Elfman wrote Death Metal... - 100%

caspianrex, May 19th, 2009

Yes, if Danny Elfman wrote Death Metal instead of film scores, it might sound something like this. (Come to think of it, Danny Elfman's buddy Tim Burton could probably make a GREAT movie out of this album.) Listening to The Puppet Master is at once a horrifying and beautiful experience. Yes, the subject matter is gruesome in the extreme, even for King Diamond. Yes, it sends chills up your spine. Yes, it is some of the most heartrendingly beautiful music I have ever heard. It's really too bad that some people will never experience this music, because they find it too frightening.

I think the one track that absolutely captures my imagination, and won't let go is "Blue Eyes." Some people say that synthesizers don't belong in heavy metal, but I think this track (indeed, maybe the whole album) disproves that theory definitively. The synthesizer parts mesh so perfectly with the heavy guitars, and combined with the vocals the whole effect is creepy, but extremely powerful.

I also must say something about King's vocals on this album. Everyone knows he is capable of a wide range of vocal sounds. But I don't know if there is a better example of his flexibility than this album. The way he can effortlessly switch from a screaming falsetto to a deep, throaty growl is nothing short of amazing. Furthermore, the effect of some of the complex multilayered vocal effects on this record would make Freddie Mercury stand up and take notice. The guitars are also richly layered on several of the tracks. I think that's one of the things that makes the music of The Puppet Master so effective: the music is so densely and intricately constructed, like a lush medieval tapestry or stained glass window.

Meanwhile, don't let all my talk of beauty give the wrong impression: this album still rocks...HARD. Sure, there are some moments where the texture becomes more ominous, and things slow down, but when the band lets it rip, they can really let go. As I type this, I am listening to "The Ritual" on headphones. The drums are phenomenally tight, and the guitar solo shreds! "Blood to Walk" is another tune that is so rhythmically complex, it almost sounds like prog metal, but not half as pretentious as prog can get. After all, this is King Diamond, not Dream Theater. Still, eat your heart out John Petrucci...

If you have not experienced the wonder that is King Diamond at the top of his (and his band's) game, give The Puppet Master a listen. You will find it a deeply rewarding experience, one that will grab your attention and not let go. Just one warning: you may not want to listen to it right before bed, if you want to sleep without nightmares...

Another horrific yet beautiful tale. - 100%

hells_unicorn, November 10th, 2006

King Diamond has been a pioneer who is credited with setting many trends in metal, most of them tied to the emergence of Black Metal. Black Metal bands from Scandinavia, in particular, have been heavily influenced by his work with Merciful Fate and have capitalized on their more original take on the occult. However, what is less talked about is King Diamond’s influence outside of the Black Metal genre, particularly his influence on more Gothic bands such as Cradle of Filth, and the marriage of classical opera and speed metal that resulted in the current wave of darker Power Metal bands.

“The Puppet Master” is a standard release by Diamond in many respects, but also contains some rather innovative features not found on previous efforts. This is primarily due to the inclusion of guest vocalist Livia Zita, who compliments Diamond’s evil sounding baritone and ghost wails flawlessly and also brings an element of grace and beauty to what is quite a horrific tale. It is also important to understand that the consequence of this additional vocalist/character is a tragic love story that is similar to “House of God”, but is much more personal.

The story itself is extremely disturbing, although the visuals found on the CD jacket are also quite grotesque. However, the king has managed to present something that is as gruesome as recent cinema works such as Saw and turn it into an actual artistic statement. The characters that are victimized by the horrid occult ritual and the following destruction and re-assembling of their bodies as puppets are so sympathetic that a moral statement is made, though I don’t know if it was intentional. Both Diamond’s character and Victoria are entirely innocent, their only crime was going to the wrong puppet theatre. The listener is forced to see true evil, you can not sympathize with the villains, and there are no shades of gray or moral confusion. When you fully discover the overall plot, combined with the emotionally driven Neo-Romantic music, you will desire to see every predator running amok in this world locked up forever.

The music is as on point as it was on “House of God”, kicking off with a spooky overture properly titled “Midnight”, which features a church organ and a choir of King Diamond ghost voices. From here we get a varied set of songs, most of them driven by Andy LaRoque’s riffs and Diamond’s brilliant storytelling. The horrific description of the destruction of Diamond’s character in “No More Me” is a rather disturbingly descriptive song lyrically, dancing between sounded like a twisted waltz and a quasi-black metal set of scream fests. The title track has some great LaRoque riffs to it, especially the intro lead harmonies, which remind me of “Dressed in White” off King’s solo debut. “Emerencia” and “Blue Eyes” are highly atmospheric and keyboard driven, featuring some beautiful vocals by Livia and some dramatic changes in texture from section to section.

“The Ritual” and “Living Dead” are very slow and dark sounding, almost flirting with being Doom Metal. The latter has a gloomy ending featuring a somber acoustic guitar line by LaRoque that bears a strong resemblance to “Peace of Mind” off of House of God, and features one of the saddest vocal dialogues between a male and female voice. “Blood to Walk” is a standard King Diamond classic that sounds like it could have been on “Them” or “Conspiracy”, spearheaded by a powerful set of guitar riffs and a highly catchy chorus that is easy to sing along with as it is in Diamond’s masculine range.

We have 4 absolutely astounding highlights on here that deserve special praise as they embody the evolution that took place on this album. “Christmas” features a beautiful rendition of The Little Drummer Boy sung by Livia, which is twisted by a section of pure riff driven thrash metal and King’s evil sounding vocals. This song outdoes the previous twisting of a classic melody that took place in “The Wedding Dream” on Conspiracy. “Magic” is a straight-forward power metal anthem with a set of simple and almost cliché guitar riffs, but an absolutely amazing vocal duet between Livia and Diamond; this is the closest these guys will probably ever get to a romantic love song. “Darkness” starts off with a blues inspired guitar intro reminiscent of Black Sabbath, but goes through a rather dramatic series of changes until arriving at another memorable chorus with yet another brilliant vocal interchange between Livia and Diamond.

But of the 4 highlights, the true standout is the tear jerking “So Sad”. This is a song that actually brought me to tears; I got into the album that much. Many people mock the constant reference to the butterfly in the lyrics, but King Diamond has always been mocked for one thing or another and has always had the last laugh. This reference is a symbolic way of articulating the sense of hope that the characters feel. Although the butterfly did not die because they helped it, its life was still destined to end not long after, as was the case with the characters’ time together. The music on here has a strong keyboard presence, and is so sad sounding that it seems to weep tears between the notes. Livia’s best vocal performance is on here, although I would assert that King’s voice is too flat in its range on here to be considered his best vocal performance, albeit such a voice style is appropriate for a male in a duet.

In conclusion, I can’t say for certain whether this album is better than “House of God” or not, the two are very similar. But it is an album that has nothing that I believe needs changing, thus it gets a perfect score. Fans of King Diamond will like this, as it is true to what he has always done well since his first solo effort. Fans of Power Metal and Early Thrash may also find things to enjoy; although King Diamond’s voice takes some getting used to as it is highly flamboyant at times. This album comes highly recommended, it is solid, and has excellent shelf life as I can still listen to it all the way through after 2 years of ownership. Also check out King Diamond’s explanation of the story on the bonus DVD.

Best since The Eye, maybe since "Them" - 95%

MurderNArson, May 14th, 2006

As anyone who has listened to King Diamond extensively knows, there have been two distinct eras to his music. There was the early era (occuring during the 80s and including Fatal Portrait through Conspiracy) and the modern era(corresponding roughly with the 90s and encompassing the Spider's Lullabye through Abigail II), with The Eye serving as something of a link between the two. Personally, while I enjoy everything King has done, I have always prefered the older albums, albeit by a very slight margin. Not that the newer releases are not top-notch metal - they are, by anyone's standards - it's just that they tend to pale in comparison to masterpieces like Abigail and "Them"

Until The Puppet Master, that is.

While I don't think it is quite on a level with the classics, The Puppet Master marks a significant change for the better from the sound King had been using since The Eye. The albums leading up to it (Voodoo, House of God, Abigail II), while all brilliant, all had a bit of a similar feel to them, and fans, I am sure, expected more of the same from The Puppet Master. But this album is definitely a departure.

Now don't go expecting a return to the old sound. We can't realistically expect that, and besides, when bands try to do that the result is usually bad. No, what The Puppet Master is is a transition to the next stylistic era of King Diamond - essentially, it is to the modern era what The Eye was to the early era: still somewhat consistent with what has gone before, but at the same time featuring a different, fresh feel.

So here's what we get with The Puppet Master.

The increased use of "regular" singing (as opposed to the almighty falsetto) is still here, like it or not. Personally I like his falsetto better, but this works too. Also still present are the layered effects of falsetto/vocals simultaneously, usually in harmony. King started experimenting with that technique more and more during the 90s, and in the eyes of this reviewer, the experiment worked nicely.

Those are the things that stay the same. What really sets this album apart are the differences:

Something that bothered me on the preceding album (incidently my least favorite King Diamond release) was the way he would switch between vocal styles without any clear musical or lyrical purpose. One minute he'd be singing lower, then all of a sudden, the next line would be in the falsetto for no apparent reason. Well, that is no longer a problem. The falsetto may be used less, but it's done much more tastefully.

Another thing is the songwriting. The songs on this album are somewhat simpler than on previous albums. Now I know simplicity is regarded as something of a bad word among metal reviewers, but it can be a good thing. On previous King Diamond albums (Voodoo in particular) the songs had so many different parts that some of them just plain did not flow well. Now the songwriting is more structured, focused, and yes, simple - although not so much so as to be considered in any way half-assed.

The biggest improvement on The Puppet Master, however, is the melody. On some of King's other recent albums, some of the melodies seemed a little bit uninspired, not really memorable. This time around, he's in fine form. The entire album is consistently catchy and downright fun to listen to. Songs like "Magic" and "Darkness" get stuck in my head like no song since "Sleepless Nights" or "The Family Ghost," and there's never a dull moment anywhere in the album.

And then, of course, there is Livia Zita. Yes, King added some female vocals - this isn't news to anyone. She sings backing on a number of songs, and performs a few lead parts of her own. So does it work? For the most part, yes. King Diamond's music has always been characterized by vocal diversity, and the addition of Livia just makes it all the more rich.

As far as the music itself goes, King sounds as good as ever, Andy LaRoque and Mike Wead tear it up with blazing solo after blazing solo (just because the songs are a little more straightforward doesn't mean there's any shortage of brilliant guitar solos) and the bass and drumming are, as always, adequate but never in the forefront.

No King Diamond review would be complete without a discussion of the album's story. I won't go into the particulars because it is much better when experienced through the music (or, if you have as I do the version with the DVD, through King's own explanation), but suffice it to say that it is...different. Good? Yes. Engrossing? Of course. Haunting? To be sure, but definitely not your usual King Diamond fare. However, this only adds to the fresh, new feel of this album.

As time goes on, aging bands do one of three things. Either they continue making the same music without a lot of variation from album to album (this works rarely, as in the case of Iron Maiden, but normally bores the hell of most fans), or they slowly drift away from their old sound, then try to make a "return to their roots" (the result is usually awful, see: Metallica, and is almost never an actual return, even if it is good music - Megadeth's The System Has Failed would be a perfect example of that). The third option is to evolve over time, to avoid doing the same, tired old thing without simultaneously alienating their fan base. Most bands who try this fail at it, and usually end up producing utter garbage (*cough* In Flames *cough*) but it is an art that King Diamond has mastered. Listening to The Puppet Master, you can tell that this is the same guy who wrote Fatal Portrait, yet you never get the feeling that what you are hearing is a rehash of what has gone before.

King's evolution, as I mentioned before, has come in two distinct stages, with a transition in between. From the sound of it, I'd say The Puppet Master is a transition as well.

So in closing, The Puppet Master is everything a good King Diamond album should be - catchy, atmospheric, consistent, well-written, heavy, aggressive, technical, tied together with a good story - but it is also more than that. It has every appearance of taking King's sound to the next level, taking it in a new and very promising direction.

Not King's best, but not bad - 68%

BurntOffering, April 13th, 2006

King has definatley put out some classic stuff, this isn't a classic. Not to say it's bad. This album is full of some good songs, but it's just not anywhere near what King is capable of. The riffs are unmistakably Andy's and are great, but there's a few "what the fuck?" songs on here. The production has never been a problem with King as it is always nice and crisp.

We start with "Midnight" and it's an above average King Diamond intro, not much more to say. "The Puppet Master" is a sweet speed metal song, with a lot of strong riffs and some nice soloing. You'll notice through this album that King doesn't use his falsetto as much. It's more of a background thing rather than lead. "Magic" starts with an extremly catchy intro riff, then song calms down and picks back up. Overall a more memorable song. "Emergencia" is kind of boring, average, plodding and goes on a bit too long. "Blue Eyes" is also boring, average, and plodding. But then.....OH YES "The Ritual" is awesome stuff. There's a thrash riff in here! Cool riffs and lyrics; the highlight of the album. "No More Me" is pretty weak, especially after "The Ritual". It just does nothing for me. It seems KIng is worried about the storyline than the music. "Blood to Walk" is a cool, catchy tune, but it comes off a lot better live. "Darkness" is an average track, there's a few cool riffs in here, but nothing too redeeming. Personally I think the Femal Vocals on this album blow. They are pretty annoying. "So Sad" is the worst song King has ever done. It's a duet ballad with female vocals and really shitty synth. Crap Crap CRAP! "Christmas" picks things up, probably because it actually has riffs in it. Above average track, quite catchy. "Living Dead" is another average track that doesn't really do anything for me.

This is pretty average by the King standards. Hopefully the next studio album will be much better. I would recommend this to any huge King Diamond fan, but if you're just checking him out for the first time go get "Abigail" or "Them".

The BTPO Syndrome. - 80%

Harachte, October 23rd, 2004

King Diamond is back at the frontline and along with him came his latest miscreant ‘The Puppet Master’. After ‘Abigail II… The Revenge’ (released early 2002) and the subsequent problems between the band and Metal Blade concerning the lack of tour support it pretty soon became clear that King was already busying himself writing the successor.
And here it is, one and a half years later, released by Massacre. It’s always difficult to compare a new record with its’ predecessor, especially when taken into account the fact that that very same predecessor was a kickass album.

The first thing that struck me was the overall nature of ‘The Puppet Master’, all twelve tracks breathe a somewhat more modest atmosphere in comparison to ‘Abigail II…’. Perhaps ‘melancholic’ is the word I’m looking for here. Besides that not all too negative aspect I got the feeling that I was at times listening to a band that was repeating itself too often. But with style, so that’s okay.

But the whole album is unmistakable King Diamond. The subtle breaks, the instrumental parts and the vocals of the master himself. And just as previous albums ‘The Puppet Master’ is a concept lyrically speaking, its’ subject being a sadistic, deranged puppet show.
Tracks that top the rest of the album are ‘The Ritual’ and ‘Christmas‘ (met the ‘drummer boy’ intro), whereas a track like ‘Blood To Walk’ has some elements I already encountered during one the predecessing albums. Besides that we get some female vocal talent in ‘So Sad’ (among others).
Musically the band reaches near perfection and it’s safe to say that all musicians are more than slightly talented. The production is maybe the best so far, a transparent yet very heavy sound.

‘The Puppet Master’ has become a good album (I cant’ help thinking that the last six songs are towering over the first six) but I expected more nonetheless. Perhaps this is just the result of a worse case of BTPO, or Beat The Previous One-syndrome. I don’t know…

King's masterpiece... - 100%

KissTheDemon, July 19th, 2004

King Diamond, the true King. The King of metal, fronting the two best metal acts out there - King Diamond and Mercyful Fate. And with fronting these two phenomenal bands, he has obviously released plenty of excellent albums. With MF, he released the cult classics 'Mellisa' and 'Don't Break the Oath', as well as the excellent '9'. He released even more (and better) albums with his solo band, pumping out classics like 'Abigale', 'Them', 'Conspiracy' and 'The Eye'.

But, so far at least, 'The Puppet Master' stands high above any King Diamond or Mercyful Fate album, in every department. Vocally, lyrically, storyline, musically - it's all at it's peak on this album. King Diamond exploits his inhuman range on this album, either bellowing like a ghost or shreiking that famous banshee wail. Lyrically, it's also a masterpiece, telling King's most intriguing and gruesome tale yet, which is also quite deep. The guitars, especially the shredding virtuosic skills of Andy La Rourque (sp?), are amazingly fast, technical, haunting, and sharp. The drumming is great, as is the bass. There are even great sounding gothic keyboards from the King himself.

All the tracks on this album are great. From the all-out thrashers to the gothic, slower pieces, all the tracks shine in their own unique way. 'The Puppet Master' is a fast paced metaller that is very catchy, and the vivid imagery automatically pulls you into the metallic guitars and haunting vocals. 'Magic' is the catchiest song on the album with sharp guitars, and King Diamonds and Livia Zita's chilling preformances. 'Emerencia' is great with it's various tempos and scattered solos. 'Blue Eyes' is a rather sad song, with a hear-wrenching vocal preformance from the King. 'Blood To Walk' is the best song on the album, respectfully, and starts off a speedy metaller, with great bloody verses and an unbelievably catchy chorus. 'Christmas' is a great metaller with a comical beggining (Livia Zita reciting 'The Little Drummer Boy). 'Living Dead' is an excellent song, another masterpiece, with multi tempos and devilish vocals and floating guitars. But all of the songs are excellent. Oh, and 'Midnight' is an excellent opener, almost as good as Conspiracys 'At The Graves', but not quite.

The story is very gruesome, telling the story of a man who falls in love with a girl at a magical puppet show. They get together, and the girl ends up going to the puppet theater alone, and never returns. I will go no farther, because you should do yourself the biggest favor you will ever do for yourself and go buy it.

The guitar is excellent, the solos with hints of neo-classical-ism, are excellent shred fests. The riffs are metallica Priest-esque (but much better) riffs with killer hooks. The drumming is also great, keeping songs at bay. The double bass is used excellently, only when needed to give a great effect.
But of course, the spotlight is King's vocals. As I explained above, he really uses it to the best of his extent here, using the lows, the mids and the falsettos, and all are used about the same amount. King never, ever dissapoints.

Bottomline, this is quite possibly the best ever album ever set forth, be it King Diamond or Mercyful Fate, it owns every other album (KD/MF or not) on the planet. Speed Metal, Power Metal, Black Metal, whatever - it is the best. Go buy it, NOW.

A New Classic From the King - 95%

Messiah_X, February 8th, 2004

I was kind of doubtful about this release at first. I don't know why, there was just something about it that made be put off purchasing it. However, I finally bought it, and was amazed by the overall album. Almost every song on the album rules. Also, for those who dislike King Diamond's ultra-high falsettos will be pleased to know that they are used minimally on this album. I am personally indifferent to them, but there are many times when they fit the music well. On The Puppet Master they are used more as backing vocals.
One thing that stands out on the album is the addition of a female vocalist, Livia Zita.

A factor that I always look at when I rate a King Diamond album is the story. The story of The Puppet Master is one of the King's more gruesome works. It is the story of a man and his wife who make puppets out of human parts and brings them to life. I won't spoil the story, but this one is worth it. The only problem I have with this story is the way that Victoria (the main character's girlfriend) is introduced. Actually, she is barely introduced in the lyrics at all. However, that is more trivial than anything. The ending kind of leaves you wanting more, but that could mean the possibility of a sequal.

Track By Track Analysis:

1. Midnight: (10/10) This is a very good intro. Probably one of the best intros ever done by the King.

2. The Puppet Master: (10/10) As usual, the opening song is one of the best parts of a King Diamond album. This is a mid-paced song full of catchy riffs and melodies. King Diamond uses just about every level of his vocal range on this song, which also adds to the overall feeling of the song.

3. Magic: (10/10) This song is a bit slower than the title track, but still full of great melodies. The best part of this song is probably the chorus. Once again the King demonstrates his incredible vocal range.

4. Emergencia: (9/10) This is the first darker track on this album. It successfully conveys the feeling of the main character following the puppet master's wife through the streets. One thing that sets this song apart is the segment in the middle where the female vocals take over for a short interlude.

5. Blue Eyes: (9/10) This song opens up with some gloomy synth/keyboards and quickly explodes into a slow to mid-paced song. There are some female chanting vocals in the background at a few parts of the song. Overall its a solid song, just not quite as good as the title track or Magic.

6. Ritual: (8/10) Another solid song. The vocals on this song are pretty memorable. The chorus is pretty solid too. Nothing stands out particularly strong on this song, but it does manage to hold together as a solid song.

7. No More Me: (9/10) This is a slower song, and musically its nothing special. However, the feeling this song invokes makes up for it. This song is where the story really starts to pick up. The song has a gloomy feel to it which works very well with the lyrics. Its one of the shorter songs on the album, just over 3 minutes in length, but were it any longer it would just become redundant.

8. Blood To Walk: (11/10) This is the best song on the album. In fact, its one of the best songs King Diamond has ever done. The chorus of this song is excellent. Even before I heard the whole song, the chorus was stuck in my head. The riffs and melodies on this song are at the same level as the title track. Once again, King Diamond demonstrates his complete vocal range, from deep growls to high falsettos. The album is worth it even if it were just for this song.

9. Darkness: (9/10) The melodies on this song are pretty strong. Its not as emotional as it probably could be, but is still prevalent throughout the song. There are some strong riffs in this song. The female vocals return towards the end of the song and work pretty well here.

10. So Sad: (10/10) As the title suggests, this is a depressing ballad. However, it is probably one of the better metal ballads I've heard. This song is full of emotion. It is a duet with King Diamond and Livia Zita, and as a team they do very well. Duets are usually hit and miss with me, but it is necessary for this song, otherwise the feeling might not have been as successful.

11. Christmas: (10/10) This is an odd song that took a few listens to really catch on. The song opens with the female vocals singing a cheerful Christmas song and soon explodes into another classic song. The riffs and melodies on this song are very well-done. The chorus is pretty strong as well. The female vocals come back in near the end of the song, continuing the Christmas theme introduced at the beginning of the song.

12. Living Dead: (10/10) The closing song has some of the faster parts of the album. Overall its a pretty mid-paced song, but there are song great fast sections throughout the song. There is a slow section towards the end which ends the album in a sullen mood.

Overall, this is probably the best King Diamond release since Voodoo. Highly recommended to everyone.

This isn't the worst King has done... - 82%

Snxke, November 16th, 2003

This CD is a terribly mixed product. The production is a tad bit too digital to convey ANY sense of atmosphere but it's not dirty or flat either. It's just...there. The musical performances are tight as they ever have been so the real issue lies in the songwriting...so I have to take this song by song and get into the meat of album that King has delivered about 50% brilliance and 50% crap.

1. Midnight

This is a KILLER intro from the King. Full of keyboards, guitars and odd vocals it makes a much better intro than some lame spoken word bit. Only a short span of time passes before it launches into another classic track...

2. The Puppet Master

Killer guitars, hooks and melodies drive this track into classic status. This track rides alongside songs like "Arrival" and "The Storm" as killer album tracks for the King.

3. Magic

This slower song is also a wonderful bit with a catchy as hell chorus. I think this song reminds of the better moments on "The Spiders Lullaby".

4. Emerencia

This track is a "mood" track that I NORMALLY hate from the King. Even so, this odd drumming and slinking mood of the track make it catchy and extremely dark/listenable.

5. Blue Eyes

Meh. This is a boring song. Simply put, the first song to fall flat on this album. The whole idea of the talk-sing bit is just not interesting to me. King needs more tracks like "The Puppet Master" and less meandering shit like this.

6. The Ritual

BOOOORIIINNNNG. More talking. More meandering, confused riffs that go nowhere. STOP IT NOW KING!!! A good mood track for two seconds...but not much after that.

7. No More Me

Ug...third bomb in a row. Come on dude. NO MORE TALKING!!! This song would mark the last though, of the stupid middle section of this record.

8. Blood to Walk

The CD erupts into King Diamond genius again with this kick drumming masterwork that brings this CD's grade up immensely. I love this song, the chorus stuck in my brain and King sounds like a man possessed. Kudos!!!

9. Darkness

Blah. Boring, next!!!

10. So Sad

This power ballad is funny, funnier and then the funniest. I watched him do it live, heard it on the record and realized that it's such a fucking POWER BALLAD. Well, it COULD be worse you know. DO YOU REMEMBER THE BUTTERFLY?!?! HA!

11. Christmas

Despite the silly intro this song has some AMAZING riffs. The mood is classic King and the CD picks up on it's sixth killer track. King sounds quite good...the rifftastic nature of some of these songs is just brutal. Listen now or die.

12. Living Dead

Another killer track. Total speed metal, total howling King. This makes seven really good tracks out of 12...a perfect way to end the album. Nice little outra by Andy too.

Just a side thought...this backing vocalist was on tour with him and announced as part of the band. She is from Hungary, her name is first on the thanks list, she is the ONLY person to ever do vocals with King which he claimed would NEVER happen.

It looks like King has a girlfriend. HA!

Buy the CD for the good tracks, laugh at the bad and hope the next is a little less lopsided.

(PS: The artwork sucks on the front - but rules on the inside!!!)

Not what I expected...it's far better - 95%

Dethrone_Tyranny, October 10th, 2003

Ok, let's get one thing straight here, King Diamond is the man, plain and simple. He has never let his fans down and I was not expecting something bad from him this time around. Well, I can't say I was expecting anything better than 'House Of God', his best release after the Fate reunion....until now.

All I can say right now is that THE KING HAS DONE IT AGAIN! I thought he finally outdid himself on the 'House Of God' album, but this, this is EXCELLENT! I can say without a doubt, that this is his best release since 'The Eye' from 1990. A quite 'different' and experimental direction for The King to go in, but he sure chose the right path. Not to mention that this story is probably his most wicked tale to date. If I had to choose one of his albums for a movie to be made out of, it would be this one. I'm not going to spoil anything for you, but here is a slight summary: It takes place around Christmas in Buddapest, Hungary during a puppet show. King (or the main character) is in the front of the audience with his love, Victoria and as they are watching these puppets move about the stage on their sliver strings, King notices one starring at him as his eyes move, so he becomes a little spooked begins to suspect that it's alive. Then as the show goes on, he see a small drop of blood on it's hand. As King and Victoria leave the show, some evil force calls Victoria back to theatre....alone. She doesn't come home that night so when King goes by himself to look for her, that's when the real shit starts happening. I won't tell you the rest, but here's the review...

The intro, 'Midnight' is quite different from what he usually does. It's an actual song about 1 and a half minutes long, no too appealing, but pretty solid. At the end of the intro, the title track kicks in without warning, stunning the listener to keep his or her ears focused on every note. Andy sounds better than ever on this release with his graceful and melodic riffs and licks, though getting fast and aggressive as the song progresses. King is in top form here, delivering a rather catchy vox on this track that will make long term (and even newer) fans smile. The second song, 'Magic', has an incredible chorus and a badass beat to it, begining with more killer riffs, pumping the listener up for the rest of the album. With 'Emerencia', the story really kicks in. A mid-paced track with beautiful, melodic vocals and a female vocal section in the middle of the song. Whoever sings that part has an incredible voice! 'Blue Eyes' is where the story really kicks into overdrive, begining slow and speeding up to a mid pace point as various keyboards and background chants make this one a quite enjoyable listen. Next, we have 'The Ritual'. Begins kind of doom-like, delivering a good amount of keyboards and then you have it take off into a speed metal frenzy, making it one of the best tracks on here. 'No More Me' has got some quite bizzare lyrics...."I am still alive inside my eyes, and I can see me, I can see them throw my carcass in the trash"....not too catchy but it rocks. Now 'Blood To Walk' is one catchy as fuck tune, the chorus will stay stuck in your head, as well as the thrash like riffs. 'Darkness' is probably the weakest tune on here. It's decent, but it's neither catchy nor fast. Now what do we have here....a KD love ballad?! Yes, that's exactly what it is. And no, it's not a semi love ballad like the title track to 'House Of God' or 'Melissa' and 'Is That You Melissa?' from Mercyful Fate. This is an actual love ballad by the name of 'So Sad', where King duets (I remember him saying in an interview that he would never duet) with the same female singer that sang on 'Emerencia'. A very different, but cool song. Then the next song, 'Christmas'....WTF? Not 'WTF?' in a bad way, but this is....quite odd, even for KD. The female singer is happily singing a lovely christmas tune that you can't help but giggle at or scratch your head to when you know it's from KD. As soon as it gets heavier, it ends up being one of the best and catchiest songs on the album. The album comes to a close with a decent speed metal tune, 'Living Dead'. Pretty fast all the way through but then it slows down into a classical peice, and King begins once more dueting with the female singer in 'love ballad' form. I guess that's supposedly the voice of Victoria.

Yes, another great album put out by the one and only KD, but there is one flaw.....the story is not finished!! There is no way it can end like that. Incredible story, disappointing ending. Perhapse 'The Puppet Master 2'? Let's only hope...

Best songs: The Puppet Master, Magic, Blood To Walk, Christmas