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The story of 'Voodoo', the 8th King Diamond (also in Mercyful Fate) album is placed in Louisiana along the Mississippi river, U.S. of A. As the name suggests, it is all about voodoo, but sadly no zombies this time! I love those rotting brain-eaters, but maybe King doesn't... Daaamn....
No, the story itself is very good indeed. The Lafayettes move to an old mansion by the river. Surprisingly, there's a burial ground on their lands. Soon the new household wants to get rid of the graveyard and what happens? Great Wanga fights for its dead. Well, I do not give it all out, you should try it all by yourself. King's best since 'The Eye' (1990), easily! 'Voodoo's vibe is actually very similar when compared to 'The Eye'. Nice to hear King's back to the right tracks after his mild "John Carpenter" period (read: some very bad outputs, notice the word "mild" here). Still, I take the music as enjoyable heavy metal, not a thing to chill me.
The music is varying, always following the story closely enough. The mild "J.C." period have plagued King's close past before this album, so it is great to hear this. Every song has its moment. Yes, every single one of them. What more can one ask? The album holds well together, and one can expect some great heavy metal after more atmospheric parts (like haunting synth tracks etc.). Together with guitarists Andy La Rocque and Chris Estes, King has composed a totally intriguing album. Dimebag Darrell (ex-Pantera) guests on the title song, adding his heaviness to it. King's vocals are extremely demanding. You can or can't listen to him. Still, some stuff he does here is just funny, e.g. 'Life After Death's opening (also heard later). But generally King's vocal delivery is good and every character is acted differently. Great cover art adds even more atmosphere.
Sadly, this has a few drawbacks, but they do not affect the whole too much. First, drum sound is far too powerless. Second, drummer doesn't sound like he's a metal drummer at all. It also sounds like the guy drags a bit. So, the drums are crap. It took a while for me to get over this drawback, but I am glad I did. Might have been the other way... Otherwise, the album sounds good, but could be heavier in my opinion. But on the other hand, this way it sounds like it was ten or so years old... Good ol' memories. There is no music for over an hour, but a gap of silence after 'Aftermath' and then some backwards stuff. Quite funny, but totally pointless and annoying, since I hate these gaps! Kill the gaps!!!
'Voodoo' is one of the better King Diamond stories, there's something new in it, too. Enjoyable if you like King. If you don't, you will...
(originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com in 2003)
Voodoo was the first King Diamond album in history that i actually found myself not looking forward to, and the blame could be largely placed upon the shoulders of its pathetic predecessor The Graveyard. Thankfully, my apprehension wound up misplaced, because while it's certainly not one of the better recordings in the King's backlog, it at least returns to a stronger production sensibility and the songwriting is vastly superior to that 1996 tar-pit of creativity. Voodoo is muscular and atmospheric, the album that should have been the direct follow-up to The Spider's Lullabye; even if it lacks tracks that really stand out to me like "Killer" or "Eastmann's Curse", you could tell that the band was at least trying to retain that sense of shrill ghastliness and nocturnal grandeur that it mastered so many years prior.
The recurrent supernatural themes of this album reek of those found on "Them" and Conspiracy, only set in the context of a Mississippi River community in the 30s. Probably inspired by the classic film White Zombie, only not exactly due to the change in location and a slightly different plot. 'King' himself was not a character in this particular tale, but as usual those he scripts wear their personalities on their sleeves. Like 'Nurse Needle' in The Spider's Lullabye, here we have 'Salem' a practitioner of dark magic, who decides to side with his religion against a local rich family (whom he works for as a house servant) that wants to destroy the local voodoo grounds. Seriously, who could blame them? That shit is creepy, and Salem ends up justifying their hostilities and suspicion as the grisly events of the story play out. As usual, it's a simplistic story with a few twists and turns, the sort of light fare Diamond is always trying to squeeze into the confines of a single album, so one should not expect some literary, impressive narrative.
I didn't care for the little ditties wedged in between a few of the full-length songs, like "Unclean Spirits" which is more or less The Exorcist on a King Diamond record or the intro "Louisiana Darkness" which at least sets a theme and setting with the buzzing insects and river of gentle falsetto and tribal drumming. But there are some half-decent metal cuts here like "Loa House", which took me straight back to the years of "Them", or the interesting "One Down Two to Go", which surges between periods of calm and some savage riffing, grooves and acrobatic slices of lead-work. I can't cite Voodoo as being highly original, since most of the guitars still feel like echoes of finer years, with a few new notes re-arranged and a slightly bouncier overall veneer, but this is at least the King Diamond I knew and loved those many years stirring itself back to form.
It clearly sounds better than The Graveyard, because the guitars have some true power and depth to them, wisely disposing of the parched punch I had to endure there for nearly an hour. The rhythms don't involve a lot of incredible hooks, nor are the vocal lines particularly haunting or resonant with me these many years later, but the drums possess a heavier thunder here, possibly due to the acquisition of pounder John Luke Hebert who had played on a great Chastain record, For Those Who Dare in 1990 (and former Chastain vocalist Leather Leone's solo album Shock Waves the year before that). For bassist Christ Estes and guitarist Herb Simonsen, this would be the last studio effort with the King, and they turn in adequate enough performances that they can be forgiven for the dry spell two years earlier. I enjoyed the leads far more than The Graveyard, but then they don't exactly have the most compelling foundation of riffs to build upon.
All told, this is twice the album that it's predecessor was, and managed to curb the dread I was feeling for the band's future, but far from the first King Diamond album I'd reach for when I find myself in the mood for a supernatural falsetto drama. The voodoo angle is one the band was destined to explore, yet it doesn't leave a lasting taste thematically like an Abigail or The Eye. Nor does the music.
If someone asks you which album would you recommend by king Diamond, what do you think the most obvious answer would/will be? More than likely "Abigail." Nothing wrong with that. Sometimes you'll get the often over-looked "The Eye" which again, nothing wrong with that. THANKFULLY nobody recommends "The Spider's Lullaby" or "The Graveyard" for obvious reasons. Does anybody really recommend King's last couple albums? Not really. I believe those are for long-term die-hard fans. The ones that want every single thing by him. But there's one album that is constantly never mentioned and it's possibly the biggest crime of the century. That album my friends is 1998's treasure "Voodoo." "Voodoo" is possibly the last masterpiece that the almighty King did and it fits right there next to his 80's output as far as top tier performance-wise and just down right almost flawless. As I'm about the go into my review, I don't want to give it an automatic 100% because I think those ratings are best left for those so-called albums that have heavily defined the Metal genre.....you know "Ace of Spades", "Hell Awaits", "Seven Churches", "Morbid Tales", "Under The Sign of The Black Mark".....you get the idea. So I will comb through this evil motherfucker with tooth and nail in order to find some flaws. Thery're somewhere, I will expose the little roaches of production and bring them to light but it's going to be extremely hard for me to do so with this album.
Right off the bat, this album means a lot for me. It was one of the first King Diamond albums I ever owned. Gotta remember this was right whenever Roadrunner first started re-issuing the King Diamond solo and MF albums in the late 90's with the gold discs, and I had a choice between this and King's other 2 90's in the dusty bins of the now obsolete Camelot Music so I took what I could get. Thank Satan below I chose wisely. I distinctly remember buying this for my 15th b-day and literally couldn't wait to get home after taking the city bus up to the mall. Upon going into my room and closing the door, I was nervous. What to expect??? What I got was one of those albums that I can now come back to and still blast on my stereo or Ipod. One of the major things that made me such a huge fan of this one particular album is that King Diamond captured the essence and vibe of Louisiana. Me having family, and spent so much time with them and living out there for a while, the feel of Louisiana never leaves your system. It stinks in your blood and rots away at your bone marrow. And for King Diamond to capture that? It's extremely hard to do so. It's extremely hard to capture the feel I always got when hanging out with my cousin in southern Louisiana and essentially running around and discovering places to go and things to do in those old rotting quiet towns in southern Louisiana. Even to this day, I am thrown back into Iberville Parrish whenever listening to this album. That's how much "Voodoo" means to me.
Now that you know the personal connection I have with this album, let's get onto the album itself. Where to start.....well, the artwork first. King was helped out with ex-Grotesque member and Nordic artists extraordinaire Kristian Wåhlin. Possibly one of his best next to Dissections "Storm the Light's Bane", and Emperor's "In The Nightshade Eclipse." Love the mysterious and doom-ridden purple hues, quite a contrast to his other Nordic album covers. Sound production wise, it's completely professional. All the musicians are clearly heard. Again, the sound it right up there next to "Conspiracy" and "The Eye"....may be "Fatal Portrait"...definitely nowhere near the classic "Abigail" (that's a different level of sound right there), but regardless of which album I may compare this to, sound-wise again is going to be up there with King's 80's output. The musicians themselves. I don't know who or what lit a fire underneath their asses, but they are firing on some MAJOR fucking creative cylinders. When you compare to what the band was doing on the past 2 albums, holy shit. They must have finally woke up and smelled coffee first thing that morning but they got their shit straight. May be getting new drummer John Luke Hebert. Who knows what they did or what King was telling them to do or whatever the case may be but whatever happened, they did it as far doing their absolute best.
A-HA! FOUND YOU!!! NOW I FOUND A REASON TO SUBTRACT POINTS YOU MOTHERFUCKER!!! Ok, I'll calm down. Metal-Archives says this album was put out by that god-awful German label Massacre Records. Um, I must have missed the boat on something as far as international deals and rights and all that musical business BS goes but I specifically remember "Voodoo" being put out by Metal Blade Records. How? Because of the full page advertisements in the now long-lost and defunct Metal Maniacs magazine in the 90's. Now if such the case on again King's album not being promoted properly, which I highly doubt seeing now how he's a bit of a house-hold name in the way that Motorhead is and all....may be Metal Blade put too much promotion into "Voodoo", if such a thing exists. I mean what was Metal Blade more focused on promoting in the 90's? You guessed it; Cannibal Corpse. Well the way I see it, may be the over-promoted it. May be it was under-promoted. Who the fuck knows. I don't see that here. I see this more as the label not getting the expected sales and then giving the rights to fucking Massacre Records (Much like they did with the band Anvil), so.....1 point subtracted due to business matters? I think it's a petty 1% compared to the ungodly epic-like 99% this album is made of.
Song-wise, there's not a boring song on here. Songs like the creepy and goosebump-ridden "Loa House", the thriller-inducing "Salem", the DOOMY-as-fuck "The Exorcist", the tension-filled and schizophrenic "Sarah's Night", the only song that isn't as strong is "The Cross Of Samedi" which if you think about it is at the very tail end of the album. But everything up til then is fucking perfect. The atmosphere again is perfect. King really captured that Louisiana darkness. Story wise (and I am copy and pasting from wikipedia because I am lazy today)...Voodoo takes place in the year 1932 and deals with the affairs of the Lafayettes, a family consisting of Sarah (who is pregnant), David, and Grandpa. They move to an old colonial house on the Mississippi River, just north of Baton Rouge, which also happens to have been built next to a voodoo graveyard. Unknown to the Lafayettes, the colonial house's servant, Salem, is involved in voodoo. Salem partakes in voodoo rituals at the graveyard, along with Doctor le Croix, a voodoo sorcerer, Madame Sarita, and Lula Chevalier, a girl who is never seen. The Lafayettes hear the voodoo drums from the ceremonies in the graveyard. They call a secret meeting with Salem to discuss what should be done. The Lafayettes decide to destroy the voodoo burial ground. Salem does not want this to happen, so he sneaks out at midnight to talk to Doctor le Croix. Le Croix gives Salem money to buy some goofer dust, and tells him that the Lafayettes must all die. Salem puts a snake in David's room, mixes haunted graveyard dirt in Grandpa's food, and, after talking to the dead Baron Samedi, pours goofer dust on Sarah while she sleeps. David and Grandpa become very ill, and Sarah becomes possessed with a voodoo spirit. Grandpa manages to call Father Malone, an exorcist. Father Malone travels to the colonial house to rid Sarah of her possessor. He fails, and is rendered unconscious from exhaustion. While he is unconscious, Lula brings the heavy, nail-riddled ceremonial cross of Baron Samedi to the possessed Sarah. Sarah attacks Malone with the cross, almost killing him. Grandpa comes in and tells Sarah to stop, and she does, which saves Father Malone's life. Grandpa calls the police and ambulance, which arrive two hours later. The story concludes with Salem speaking about the aftermath of the situation, which also reveals that he escaped the events of the mansion. He explains that the Lafayettes abandoned the old colonial house after leaving the hospital. Sarah's child was born and it was speaking "in the strangest tongue...backwards. Some expert had uttered the word...'Voodoo'...".....PHEW! Yeah I know I just gave away the entire story, but you know the way how the King tells a story, it's way more colorful than what is written down on paper. He could tell a story of a haunted pedophile sucking dog's dicks for quarters and he could make it sound Metal as fuck. I rest my case.
To sum up this review, if there is one King Diamond you must own, it's "Voodoo." It's an album that has meant a lot to me over the years. It has stood the test of time to my ears. It's not one of those albums you THINK you might enjoy, it's an album that puts you under it's spell for sure. It's also one of the un-spoken 90's classics at a time when so many once great 80's acts couldn't even get their shit together long enough to put out a decent album in the 90s and tried to keep up with the groove metal curse of Pantera (btw, Dime Darrell is on here and he does a damn good job.). It's really sad because after this the King released a bunch of albums that by all means should have taken what was on "Voodoo" to new levels, but sadly he didn't. But for what "Voodoo" is, it's an album that I know I'll be listening to whenever I am 50.
“Voodoo” is the last 90's release by KING DIAMOND, following possibly his strangest album, “The Graveyard (call it King's worst, or call it under-appreciated, either could be correct). “Voodoo” is, it seems, a return to form for King and his band, as everything seems to tick on this record.
Right from the outset, “Voodoo” instills a disquieting chill as the listener is introduced to the plot of a southern Louisiana family and their dealings with a Voodoo graveyard and the malignant spirits that dwell within. I've heard a few stories like this before, and I'd say that KING DIAMOND hit the nail on the head for atmosphere, but that's something that I'm coming to expect from him. As the trouble brews throughout the album, the tracks become gradually more ghoulish and interesting, albeit with a fair amount of filler between them.
I have to dedicate a paragraph to the sheer feel of this album. Like the others I've heard, King goes over the top when creating a flavor for the music. Once again, it's absolutely brilliant (although the “metal” aspect of the album suffers a bit as a result) from start to finish. Creepy keyboards send shivers up the spine, and King's gravelly voice on the intro and outro tracks add a forlorn touch (speaking as the butler, Salem). The shrieking voices, the voodoo drums, everything is phenomenal, and it makes for a very suspenseful and foreboding trip.
My favorite tracks here include “Salem” and “Voodoo”. The latter contains a great little guest-appearance solo from none other than Dimebag Darrell, and is also the best stand-alone track on the album. It also includes some very irregular and fascinating percussive work (hand drums of the sort that sound like they might be reminiscent of those used in a Voodoo ritual). There's a number of other good tracks on the album (“Cross Of Baron Samedi” comes to mind), but none that really stand out after a couple of listens. As mentioned earlier, there's a lot of filler space that is used to tell the story. When one listens through the album as a whole, this is a good thing. When shuffling or listening to independent songs however, it's a bit dull without the rest of the story to support it.
This brings me to my point about this album (and somewhat for King Diamond as a whole). While the work on this album is quite good, there's not much stand-alone value, and the album really has to be listened to in its entirety. “So what?” you might say. Well, I can say that “Spider's Lullabye” was not like this. Most every track on that album was solid enough to be heard apart from the album, though the album's story as a whole was perhaps not as piercing as “Voodoo”. It's not often that I have time to sit through an entire album either, which is why I feel that this is an important factor of the music.
If you listen through the album in one sitting, it's a great experience. Not one that I could listen to repeatedly, but good once in a while. Independently, the songs are not as strong as those featured on “The Spider's Lullabye”, but better than “The Graveyard”. Very highly recommended for those that enjoy moderate paced Heavy Metal and are willing to put up with some filler, or for anyone looking for a haunting ghost story.
Originally written for www.metal-observer.com
Like many bands whose glory days were during the 80’s, King Diamond and his revolving set of cronies fell into a pit of obscurity when the trends of the 90’s began to take their toll. People wrote them off as being insignificant in the modern era and have claimed that their recent albums are but shadows of previous efforts and are lacking in quality. When listening to albums such as this and the following “House of God,” I find the reverse more accurate for the band has continued to evolve further with every new release.
The band’s performance is as strong and tight as ever. King predictably steals the show with his theatrical vocals and does a pretty good job of portraying the different characters that appear in the album’s storyline. Vocal highlights include the bouncy sing-song bridges of “LOA House” and “Salem,” the ghostly calls that persist throughout the aptly named “Life After Death,” the psychotic ravings appearing on “One Down, Two To Go,” the symphonic lifts on “Sarah’s Night,” and the descending choruses on “Cross of Baron Samedi.”
With this being the last album to feature bassist Chris Estes and guitarist Herb Simonsen, the guitar playing manages to stand out as they provide plenty of moody riffs and great solos. One solo that is worthy of noting is the one on the title track played by Dimebag Darrell; the effects and squeals may sound a little random but they sound pretty neat when taken into the song’s context.
There are also at least four short interludes on the album that provide atmosphere and help further the story. They may be considered filler to some listeners, but I’m a sucker for King Diamond interludes and find them to be quite interesting to listen to...
Speaking of the story, I’ve found that this album’s plot is almost identical to the tale that appeared on the more famous “Abigail.” You basically just change the setting from the 19th century to 20th century Louisiana, put Jonathan’s character into the background, make Miriam a more active character, replace the Family Ghost with Grandpa, replace the Black Horsemen with a priest named Father Malone, and echange the demonic infant Abigail with a group of vengeful voodoo practitioners led by the sinister Baron Samedi. In fact, I think I might like this story a little more…
All in all, I think this is a pretty underrated album. The production could’ve been better and there may be a few too many interludes for some listeners, but the band’s performance is spot on and the story is a pretty interesting one. Don’t forget to check this out!
1) Excellent band performance, with vocals and guitars especially standing out
2) The atmosphere is perfectly dark and foreboding
1) Like most of the band’s albums put out during the 90’s, the productive is rather minimal
2) A few too many interlude tracks
3) The story is cool, but rather unoriginal
“LOA House,” “Life After Death,” “Voodoo,” “One Down, Two to Go,” and “Sarah’s Night”
King Diamond is nothing if not prolific, and he has steadily compiled one of the most impressive discographies in metal. I think many metal fans dismiss his 90's albums outright and assume King had a massive drop off in quality after "The Eye". In truth, virtually all of his albums are of the same high quality, with great guitar playing and hooks galore.
Preceded by the stellar "The Spiders Lullabye" and the solid "The Graveyard", "Voodoo" is the third and final KD album that features the fine guitar playing of Herb Simonsen. Simonsen is a good foil for the great Andy LaRoque, prefering a slightly bluesier and more melodic style. LaRoque's playing on "Voodoo"seems more "off the cuff" and improvised than on previous albums. He still delivers some neoclassical charm though, especially on tracks like "A Secret" where he plays with a reckless abandon usually uncommon to him.
The album immediately builds a creepy vibe as we are transported to 19th century New Orleans, surrounded by the sounds of the night. Crickets chirp a maddening rhythm that is soon reinforced by the instruments introducing what is to be the doomy recurring theme of the album. As the music builds and King's creepy vocals are introduced, we can still hear the crickets and sometimes, hints of frantic voodoo drumming. The intro quickly fades into the uptempo LaRoque-penned "'LOA' House". Like most of the songs Andy contributed to the album this has a speedier/thrashier vibe than King's songs, which tend to be more atmospheric and melodic.
Next we're treated to "Life After Death" which starts with the "Voodoo" motif and overdubs a dizzying chorus of twisting vocal lines. I love the super-dark atmosphere of this track, and the vocal hooks are totally irresistible throughout. Herb delivers the most insane guitar solo on the album, sounding like your PS2 mating with your VCR while you were playing Guitar Hero 2.
The album's story involves a well-off southern family's attempts to destroy a Voodoo cemetery, and the curse that is placed on them. As with most all of KD's concepts it seems instantly familiar and engaging, and is enhanced by the music. The plot climaxes with an exorcism of the child Sarah who speaks in a demonic language as King as priest yells at her: "It is God himself who commands you! The power of Christ compels you! The power of Christ compels you." This alone, for me was worth the price of purchase. The final twist, which comes during a reprise of the intro, is one of best endings King has written.
The production is very clean sounding and is fairly consistent with the sound of his other 90's output. The drumming and bass playing are solid and professional but not flashy. This album is very heavy on atmosphere, and really elicits a feeling of the Deep South, and the evil that boils just beneath the surface. I would recommend this album for anyone who is a fan of KD's 80's classics, and definitely for anyone who enjoyed "The Spider's Lullabye".
Well, I was stunned when I first heard this record. I liked King Diamond's work before, but this album really made me a fan. This is definitely his best work, even topping Abigail.
What we have here is a quite diverse album. It features some great thrashers like A Secret, Salem and off course LOA House, slower atmospheric songs (e.g.: Life After Death) and off course classic King Diamond-styled Heavy-Metal-with-balls tracks. The title track has a hardrockish vibe to it (to me at least) as well as some weird instrumentation, like voodoo drums. To put it short, there's something for everyone on this cd.
King Diamond proves on this album once again that he is one of the most, if not THE most versatile singer in heavy metal. He utilises a lot of different vocal styles, the most recognisable off course being his high falsetto singing. Now, this is something that you either love or hate. I know a number of people that despise King Diamond solely because of his very high singing. Yet, on this album he doesn't really put an emphasis on that particular style. He mixes everything together so that 75% of the time he doesn't use it. The moments that he does use it, though, are usually very well placed in the song, adding to the catchiness of the track in question.
There's not much to be said about the instrumentation. It's top notch as allways, with some fine leads by Andy LaRocque. King Diamond really knows who to choose to fill in the blank spots in the line-up. There's also a lovely guest-solo by Dimebag Darrell in the title-track. The album does have a darker mood than most King Diamond releases. He seems to have put less emphasis on melody on this record. That's fine though, as the more melodic riffing made place for some serious thrashing mayhem.
The story has typical King Diamond elements; An old, dark mansion, a haunting, etc. I highly recommend reading the lyrics while you listen to this album, so you kind of the get the whole mood set right. I'm not going to explain it, because it's more fun exploring it song by song yourself. That just adds to the King Diamond-experience!
So after the weaker The Graveyard King returned with his best album since Conspiracy. Voodoo features the same line-up as the previous two except drummer Darrin Anthony is gone. In his is John Luke Herbert, the problem is that he is no better then Anthony. Again Voodoo is a concept album this time (suprise) it's about Voodoo. One thing different with this album is that it FEELS dark. It truly feels like your in the story, very absorbing. Another difference is that it's more of a complex album then the last two. King's vocals are better then ever, Andy and Herb deliver shredding solos as always and bassist Chris Estes doesw a fine job. After one of his weaker intros, Louisiana Darkness, Voodoo starts with one of of King's best songs, LOA House. The creepier Life After Death follows it very well. Also the title track has a guest solo by Dimebag Darrel, actually being one of his solos. Other great songs include Salem, The Exorcist, and Cross of Baron Samedi. The albums definate highlight is track number seven, One Down One To Go, a fast headbanger with great solos and killer vocals. One of King's best storylines this one is about a family that moves into a house were a voodoo hougan (priest) was killed and still haunts the house. Great songs and more intricate then The Graveyard, Voodoo is King's fifth best album and a very cool concept album. Definatly buy it.