KING DIAMOND — The Spider's Lullabye (review)

KING DIAMOND — The Spider's Lullabye album cover Album · 1995 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
"The Spider's Lullabye" is the 6th full-length studio album by multi-national heavy metal act King Diamond. The album was released through Massacre Records in Europe and through Metal Blade Records in the US in June 1995. It´s the successor to "The Eye" from 1990 and features quite a few lineup changes since the predecessor as guitarist Pete Black has been replaced by Herb Simonsen, bassist Hal Patino has been replaced by Chris Estes, and drummer Snowy Shaw has been replaced by Darrin Anthony, which leaves only lead vocalist King Diamond and guitarist Andy LaRocque from the lineup who recorded "The Eye (1990)".

King Diamond had released a new album each year since 1986, so to suddenly have a 5 year break between "The Eye (1990)" and "The Spider's Lullabye" was very unusual at the time, but quite a few things happened in those 5 years, which explains the long recording break. There had been lineup shuffles in the band before, but this time they were pretty significant. King Diamond also had label issues and they didn´t receive much tour support and therefore toured minimally after the release of "The Eye (1990)". in 1993 King Diamond reunited with his former bandmates in Mercyful Fate and spend time recording and releasing "In the Shadows (1993)" and "Time (1994)", and also subsequently toured in support of the two albums. In addition to those things, King Diamond also relocated from Denmark to Dallas, Texas in the early 90s, so he had his plate full in those years. Home in Sweden LaRocque spend time preparing for the opening of his Los Angered recording studio in 1995, so he was busy too.

Therefore it´s no surprise that "The Spider's Lullabye" seems a little less focused than the last couple of albums. For the first time since the band´s debut album "Fatal Portrait (1986)", not all tracks on "The Spider's Lullabye" form a concept story. Instead the band have opted to have six individual tracks opening the album and four concept story tracks closing the album. The six individual tracks tell shorter stories of supernatual beings, a murderer waiting to be executed, and other evil horror stories, while the concept part of the album tells the story of Harry who suffers from Arachnophobia to a degree where he voluntarily admits himself to Devil lake sanitarium to be treated for his phobia. The "cure" consists of Harry being strapped down, while Dr. Eastman and Nurse Needle (gotta love that name...) make him face his fears by planting various species of spiders on him. When they lock up for the night, they forget a spider in Harry´s room though. The spider lay eggs in Harry´s neck and in the morning Harry complains about a pain in his neck, but to no avail, and Harry is locked up again when night falls. The eggs burst and Harry dies from fright of all the spiders crawling over him and when he is found in the morning he is covered in spider webs and taken to the morgue to be burned.

Stylistically we´re treated to a hard edged yet melodic heavy metal sound with King Diamond´s trademark high pitched vocals in front (he also sings in other registers). Loads of vocal harmonies/choirs, guitar harmonies and leads, sharp heavy metal riffs and a solid playing rhythm section. I wrote solid, and I mean solid and not great, as especially drummer Darrin Anthony is a step down from both Mickey Dee and Snowy Shaw. He has a rather stiff and uninspired drumming style, which doesn´t bring much to the music. The material are generally well written, powerful and catchy, but compared to the previous releases most tracks leave a bit to be desired. The magic and pure brilliance of the 80s releases is lost here, and we get an album which is still high quality heavy metal, but not exactly a masterpiece. One other contributing factor to that is the thin sounding production job. The guitars lack punch and bottom and the drums have a rather hidious tone. I also struggle a bit with King Diamond´s lyrics and occasionally his phrasing on this album. This is definitely not his most inspired moment.

When that is said "The Spider's Lullabye" of course still features a lot of quality material. The title track is a bit of a classic (the use of horror effects and hapsichord work well), and I´d mention "From the Other Side" (although the drumming always seem to put me off), "Eastmann's Cure", and "Room 17" as highligths too. In the other end of the spectrum are tracks like "The Poltergeist" (what´s an off-beat disco rhythm doing during the chorus?) and "To the Morgue". Mediocre and uninspired tracks. So upon conclusion "The Spider's Lullabye" is not exactly the "comeback" one could have hoped for considering the string of absolutely brilliant releases which preceded it. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is still deserved though.
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UMUR wrote:
2 months ago
Although King Diamond have made decent albums after The Eye, I can´t say I listen to them much these days. If I want to listen to King Diamond, I listen to the Fatal Portrait to The Eye run of albums.
Vim Fuego wrote:
2 months ago
I've never heard this one. I seem to have forgotten King Diamond kept making albums after The Eye.
UMUR wrote:
2 months ago
That concludes my string of reviews for every King Diamond albums released up until now (23rd of March 2023).


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