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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.