KING DIAMOND — Abigail (review)

KING DIAMOND — Abigail album cover Album · 1987 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
UMUR
"Abigail" is the 2th full-length studio album by multi-national heavy metal act King Diamond. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in February 1987. It´s the successor to "Fatal Portrait" from 1986 and features the same lineup, who recorded the predecessor. "Fatal Portrait (1986)" featured a collection of individual tracks and some tracks which formed a concept story, but "Abigail" is a full blown conceptual piece. An album format King Diamond would subsequently employ on most releases.

The story of "Abigail" takes place in 1845 and revolves around the young couple of Miriam Natias and Jonathan La'Fey, who arrives at an old and dark mansion that La'Fey has inherited. Before entering the mansion they are warned by seven horsemen (who are later revealed to be the servants of Count La'Fey (the ancestor of Jonathan La'Fey)), that the mansion is cursed (although the warning is a bit more cryptic than that). The young couple do not heed the warning and proceed to move into the mansion. Already on their first night in their new home Jonathan La'Fey receives a visit from the ghost of Count La'Fey who tells him how he pushed his wife down the stairs on the 7th Day of July 1777, where she broke her neck and died, after he found out she was carrying a bastard child. Count La'Fey then proceded to cremate his wife and mummify the the stillborn child and finally lay the baby mummy to rest in a sarcophagus in the family crypt. He named the stillborn child "Abigail". Count La'Fey warns Jonathan that the spirit of "Abigail" now has taken place inside Miriam and that if he wants to prevent "The rebirth of evil itself", he has to push Miriam down the stairs to die.

While Jonathan is initially horrified by the suggestion, and refuse to do as the Count says, he changes his mind after several supernatural omens occur and "Abigail" finally reveals to Jonathan that she is in control of Miriam. Jonathan then plans to push Miriam down the stairs to the family crypt, but ends up being pushed down the stairs himself. Miriam then gives birth to "Abigail" and dies shortly after seing "Abigail´s" yellow eyes. The story ends with the seven horsemen arriving to see "Abigail" eating something unspeakably horrifying (which I assume is Miriam´s dead body), and then taking "Abigail" to a chapel in the forest where they drive seven silver spikes through her body and bury her, to prevent further ressurrections in the future...

...and that´s actually where the album opens as the intro track "Funeral" (which features thunderstorm sound effects and classical inspired synths) features a narrator telling how the spikes are driven into "Abigail´s" body in an eerie multi-layered demonic voice. "Arrival" is the first "regular" track on the album and establishes the melodic yet relatively heard edged heavy metal style of the material on the album. King Diamond´s piercing high pitched vocals, multi-layered backing vocals and choirs, several melodic guitar solos/themes per track (and not necessarily placed where you´d expect them to be placed), hard edged heavy metal riffing (which occasionally touches thrash metal territory), and an organic and tight playing rhythm section, who drive the music forward in a hard rocking powerful fashion. Keyboards are also a part of the soundscape, but they predominantly have a supporting role or are there for effect rather than playing lead parts.

Each and every song on the 9 track, 40:20 minutes long album is a highlight and it´s therefore a bit hard to mention standout tracks. The tracklist is incredibly well constructed and the dark and eerie horror story is supported well by the dynamics of the music. If I have to mention a few tracks which I think stand out a bit anyway (and this is purely a subjective observation) it would be "A Mansion In Darkness" (the melodic lead theme part which occur a couple of times during the track is incredible), "The Family Ghost" (the rhythm work, the guitar riffs, and vocal parts and the lyrics are just killer on this track), the title track (King Diamond surpasses himself in singing high pitched vocals on this track), and the closing mini epic "Black Horsemen" (just absolutely stunning featuring beautiful acoustic guitar parts and great harmony work). The rather complex "Arrival" deserves a mention too and "The 7th Day Of July 1777" is also quite the hook laden track. "Omens" and "The Possession" are great tracks too, but maybe just slightly less spectacular than the remaining material.

"Abigail" features a raw, detailed, and organic sounding production, which suits the music perfectly, and upon conclusion it´s a high quality release through and through. The musicianship is on a high level on all posts, the songwriting is adventurous, original, and exciting, the concept works and you get the right eerie horror effect from listening to the album, and when the whole thing is packed in a well sounding production too, it´s hard to find anything bad to say about the album. In fact I dare say it´s the band´s masterpiece, although subsequent albums would also be of high quality. There´s just something truly magical about "Abigail", which they have never been able to top. A 5 star (100%) rating is fully deserved.
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siLLy puPPy wrote:
11 days ago
I love Secret Oyster, Mercyful Fate, Artillery, Dr Dopo Jam and Volbeat a lot. A few others are good too but yeah, Denmark stands in the shadow of its neighbors.
UMUR wrote:
12 days ago
In the case of King Diamond it´s a matter of pure quality, not nationality :-). You´ll find that it´s actually very few Danish acts that I favor and write 4-5 star reviews about. There simply aren´t that many quality acts hailing from Denmark. Sad but true....
Vim Fuego wrote:
12 days ago
Lars Ulrich is also from Denmark...
siLLy puPPy wrote:
12 days ago
Vim, he has to. KD is from Denmark! :D Actually i love 80s KD too but probably like the debut better.
UMUR wrote:
12 days ago
Yup...
Vim Fuego wrote:
13 days ago
I can see you like this album a lot more than I do. ;-)

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