King Diamond – “Songs For The Dead Live” DVD / Blu-Ray (Metal Blade Records)
Battle Helm Rating
With announcements made last year of even more activity from Denmark’s most famous falsetto vocalist, “Songs For The Dead Live” is the first of these fulfilments. Featuring two full shows recorded at Philadelphia’s Fillmore in November 2015 and Belgium’s Graspop Metal Meeting in June 2016, the focus of both is 1987’s “Abigail” album, which sold over 175,000 copies in North America alone and whose fan favourite songs continue to be a staple in today’s live set! Consisting of 18 tracks each, including other King Diamond choice cuts and a couple of Mercyful Fate numbers, my only question would be why both sets are identical, other than perhaps to prove (if actually necessary) the undoubted appeal whatever the setting, be it an open air festival in Europe or the intimacy of smaller US venue catering to dedicated fans. From the roars and singing, however, I’d say that King Diamond’s appeal is as all encompassing as his voice all possessing! Backed of course by the stellar guitar work of Andy LaRoque, a legend in his own right, the brilliance of songs like ‘Halloween’ is carried by King’s creepy falsettos while (both) crowds need little prompting when he tells them to scream, while singing in unison during the chorus. Going back to the early days in ‘Come To The Sabbath’, bassist Pontus Egberg and drummer Matt Thompson hammer in a hard beat while LaRoque and fellow guitarist Mike Wead churn out the riffola and whirring solos as King wails and screams over it all along to the roars of the crowd(s). Closing the horror with the near 8 minute ‘Black Horsemen’, the ambient acoustic intro soon kicks off into a more upbeat flowing piece as the tempo speeds up and both guitarists exhibit their talents through their powerful solos, while King’s vocals mesmerise throughout from their gentle soul to atmospheric highs and of course, plenty of wails in a truly stellar performance deserved of the crowd’s enormous roar. Completed by a superb sound in both cases, “Songs For The Dead Live” is a definitive and easily worthy successor to his past live releases, leaving the listener baited for his new studio album and undoubtedly, even more live appearances!