Tuesday, November 15, 2011

From the Other Side: The Finest Moments of King Diamond & Mercyful Fate - Part 1 of 7

After digging Abigail out of her grave for Halloween, I've been immersed in my own little King Diamond renaissance for the last couple of weeks. I dusted off a Mercyful Fate tee from a show way back when for last week's Priest event and a handful of like-minded fans in the know, some with their own Diamond gear, were not shy about stopping me to chat - rave, really - about the man they refer to simply as "King." With nearly two dozen King Diamond and Mercyful Fate albums on my shelf I thought this would be a nice opportunity to try for a multi-part series of posts, some focused on songs, some entire albums, dedicated to one of the earliest black metal pioneers and finest vocalists of all time.

"From the Other Side" is the lead-off track from King Diamond's solo The Spider's Lullabye. The record, from 1995, was King Diamond's Metal Blade debut and, in the King Diamond/Mercyful Fate chronology, follows Mercyful Fate's Time and was the first King Diamond album in five years, preceded by The Eye (and while not a beginning-to-end concept record, "From the Other Side" does reference "The Eye," I assume in a connection to the Eye of the Witch from The Eye - gets hard for even the fan to keep the supernatural stuff straight). So, while King Diamond had certainly kept active since his last solo outing, "From the Other Side" served as a strong, strong statement for his first record under his own moniker on Metal Blade.

Musically, "From the Other Side" is killer. This frequently serves as a "demonstration" track of sorts when I try to convert any of the ignorant and unwashed into the ways of the King. Longtime stalwart standby Andy La Rocque never disappoints and, alongside Herb Simonsen, sets this mother on fire. A driving riff introduces King's vocals that quickly span his legendary range. Both solos belong to La Rocque, though both are, admittedly, frustratingly fleeting. Drums from Darrin Anthony are insane (boy, does he love those cymbals) and, as always, King's keyboards add a signature gothic touch. This lineup would remain intact for the next year's The Graveyard, impressive to this fan as continuity in personnel is pretty rare in King Diamond's discography.

Lyrically, "From the Other Side" is fairly simple stuff - for King Diamond, anyway - but damn effective. The singer is deceased, watching attempts to save his waning life, becoming aware of nearby spirits and an awaiting Devil. As the protagonist witnesses a demon invading his vacant body he decides it is not quite time to die, heads back for his corpse and we're left wondering if the demon vacated the premises...or not.

Metal Blade released a great remastered edition of The Spider's Lullabye, prepared at the hands of none other than Andy La Rocque (who also helmed remasters of The Graveyard, Voodoo and House of God). All were worth repurchase for me but it was The Spider's Lullabye that benefited most from this treatment, adding a richness and depth previously absent on what was, by comparison, a pretty flat, sterile CD. The series was supposed to be followed by a career retrospective DVD which, as far as I can tell, has not yet surfaced.

Up next: In the Shadows


  1. Whaddaya know... I've been getting back into anything King related too. Small world!

  2. Great minds think alike! Must be the gray time of year...