Loudwire.com 1987 Metal Album Of The Year—- King Diamond / Abigail

Abigail (Reissue)

Kim Bendix Petersen (born 14 June 1956), better known by his stage name King Diamond, is a Danish heavy metal musician. As a vocalist, he is known for his extensive vocal range, in particular his usage of falsetto. He is the lead vocalist for both Mercyful Fate and the eponymous King Diamond.

Abigail is the second King Diamond album and their first concept album. It was released in 1987 on Roadrunner Records. There were several re-releases, first in 1997 with 4 bonus tracks, and then a 25th Anniversary edition in 2005 with a bonus DVD. This album has sold over 175,000 copies in North America alone.

Abigail tells the story about a young couple, Miriam Natias and Jonathan La’Fey, who move into an old mansion that La’Fey inherited. It takes place in the summer of 1845. At their arrival they are warned by seven horsemen not to move into the house because if they do “18 will become 9.” They do not heed the warning and proceed to move into the mansion. During their first night, Jonathan meets with Count La’Fey, the Family Ghost, who is a deceased relative. The ghost shows him a casket in which a corpse of a stillborn child, Abigail, rests. The ghost informs him that Miriam is carrying the spirit of Abigail and that the child will soon be reborn. He insists that Jonathan must kill Miriam at once to prevent the rebirth.

The narration then relates the story of what happened to the Count and his wife: on 7 July 1777, the Count had discovered his wife had been unfaithful to him, and was pregnant with an illegitimate child. Enraged, he threw the Countess down the stairs, breaking her neck and causing the child to be stillborn. The Count had the body of the Countess cremated, and the stillborn fetus he named Abigail and had mummified and laid to rest in a sarcophagus, the Count having an inexplicable urge to preserve Abigail for the future.

The narration then returns to the summer of 1845, during which Jonathan and Miriam are beset by a range of omens; the church bell rings despite nobody being inside to ring it, flowers die, unwholesome stenches fill the house and in the dining room the table is discovered set for 3. In one incident an empty cradle is discovered by Jonathan swaying in the air, with both him and Miriam insisting that they didn’t bring it with them. The next day, Miriam is clearly pregnant and the fetus develops quickly; Jonathan realises that the family ghost was speaking the truth.

The fatal crisis begins when Jonathan accuses Abigail of possessing Miriam, and Abigail (through Miriam) admits it. Jonathan is terrified and considers getting a priest to exorcise Miriam – Miriam, however, exercising a moment of control, urges him to cast her down the stairs to kill her just as the Count had slain the Countess and Abigail’s original incarnation. Therefore, Jonathan pretends to give in to Abigail’s demands, and suggests to Abigail (once she regains control of Miriam) that she should come down to the family crypt so she can be reborn where she died. However, as the couple stands at the top of the stairs, Jonathan is distracted and the possessed Miriam throws Jonathan down the stairs.

Miriam gives birth to Abigail, but dies shortly afterwards, her last sight being of Abigail’s “yellow eyes”; supposedly her ghost can be heard screaming on the stairs in July ever after. The seven horsemen arrive at the mansion and discover the baby Abigail in the sarcophagus, eating something too horrifying for the narrator to mention (though the fact that it is found in the sarcophagus suggests that Abigail is eating her own previous body). Appalled, they take her away to bury her in a hidden chapel in the forest with seven silver spikes driven through her body (a burial heard as the intro to the album), in the hope that this will prevent a further resurrection.

The Analysis—-

Funeral—-I took the liberty to reprint the concept story of this release. I have never been a strong proponent for concept records….it’s the music I try to appreciate. So we begin….with subdued music and eerie vocals that conjure up evil and fear….builds and evolves into….

Arrival—-Musically, this release is very strong…the sound not differing that much from the landmark recordings of Mercyful Fate…..and of course, there is that voice. The falsetto that king has could rival Barry Gibb…..at times it becomes tiring…the remarkable thing is how he can go from growl to piercing scream in just a moment. The production is incredible…the vocal over lays give a very full sound to the recording. It’s nice to listen to again.

A Mansion In Darkness—-As we move through the ‘story’, the vivid lyrical imagery makes it rather easy to follow along after you read about the concept. I am still amazed by all of the voice over work that must have been necessary to get this sound….Diamond singing in different tones all in one line…the overlays must have been incredible. The music is nice….straight forward metal…excellent drums and a galloping bass line that fits the mood perfectly.

The Family Ghost—-The  incredible guitar blasts that kick off this track are only matched by the urgent falsetto from Diamond. A true centerpiece for me, musically, on this release. The power chords and the incredible drums threaten to outdo Diamond and his vocal. The dark and mysterious feel to the song is only enhanced by the soaring and fantastic music. This is stellar!

The 7th Day Of July 1777—-All of the 7 references are a bit comical…..seeming to try to validate the evil quality more than necessary. The gentle intro of the acoustic guitar adds to the eerie touches of the song…..and then you are off and running once again as Diamond pelts you with more dark lyrics and in human vocals. This is really nice to listen to once again after such a long time.

Omens—-With a familiar sound reminiscent of early day King, I’m sure many of these ideas had been around for a bit. The music is really strong…but the band never really takes the spotlight from Diamond. At times it is difficult to follow with the story because the lyrics are hard to catch as they were meant to be heard. This track…filler to complete the story.

The Possession—-Deep and full of maniacal sounds at the onset, the bass line is just huge on this track before allowing for the fuller drums to enter. The production is just incredible. Makes me wonder how this all played live with all of the over lays. This is nice…but still I consider filler to progress the concept.

Abigail—-Fantastic right at the kick off…the guitars are just phenomenal. After you get past the voice of Diamond, you can really pay attention to the phenomenal playing that the band does. Although the music suffers a bit from a ‘sameness’ quality. the breaks and the chord changes are remarkable….matching the mood of the voice to the music. This is great!

Black Horseman—-Ending the proper release here, i chose not to include the bonus tracks of the re-issue because that was not how it was judged to begin with. The beautiful and intricate guitar intro to this song has a Spanish flavor that allows for all of these vocal effects and a vocal from Diamond that are as fantastic as anything on the ground braking Don’t Break The Oath. This is a fantastic end to the album….bringing us full circle in the story.

**** out of 5

 

 

 

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