"The Graveyard" is the 7th full-length studio album by multinational heavy metal act King Diamond. The album was released in September 1996 by Massacre Records in Europe and Metal Blade Records in the US. The lineup is still the same as the lineup that recorded "The Spider´s Lullabye (1995)", and bearing in mind the history of constant lineup changes in the band´s career, it´s a nice surprise to see a bit of consistency in that department.
"The Graveyard" is, unlike "The Spider´s Lullabye" which was half concept and half individual tracks, a full concept album. The story in the lyrics is about a man ( the narrator) who escapes from a mental institution and hides out in a cemetary. Here he murders several people and keeps their heads as trophies. The main story is about his revenge over Mayor McKenzie though. The narrator used to work for the Mayor and accidently caught the Mayor sexually abusing his own daughter Lucy. The Mayor frames the narrator for the crime and he is send to a mental institution.
In a bizarre turn of events the narrator kidnaps Lucy to force the Mayor to come to his hideout in the cemetary. When the Mayor comes to save his daughter the narrator ties him up and prepares to punish him, but is decapitated by broken falling glass from a window before he is able to finish his business. Lucy unties the ropes and the Mayor is free. Our "hero" has lost. But in the last song on the album "Lucy Forever", Lucy picks up the decapitated head of the narrator and and takes it with her home ( He´ll be with Lucy Forever). A bizarre ending to the story.
The music is in the trademark King Diamond style. Traditional heavy metal with semi-thrash metal elements. The horror atmosphere is enhanced by the use of synths. Lead vocalist King Diamond has a high pitched and very distinct vocal style, which he is famous for, but his vocal range is actually quite wide and varied. The album is pretty well balanced with both faster paced tracks like "Black Hill Sanitarium", "Waiting" and Meet "Me At Midnight" and more heavy tracks like "Heads On The Wall" ( there´s a fast paced section in this one too though) and "Digging Graves". All tracks are delivered with the usual sense for memorable melody lines. As usual you´ll also find plenty of melodic guitar leads and solos on the album.
The songwriting is generally strong but if you ask me, I think the album is a bit too long. 14 tracks delivered in just over an hour is a bit too much and it´s like the album looses its breath after track number 8 or 9. Some of the tracks on the last part of the album are not up to par with the best material from the first part of the album IMO. The production isn´t the best either, but that may be an aquired taste, because objectively speaking it´s a professional sounding album.
So while "The Graveyard" is a much stronger album than I used to think it was ( I really didn´t like the album when it came out), I still have a few complaints that disturb my enjoyment with the album. Still a 3.5 star rating is deserved.