King Diamond – “The Spider’s Lullabye” 2CD Deluxe Version (Metal Blade Records)
This was King Diamond’s sixth album originally released in 1995, and unlike his prior releases was not a full concept album: the first half of the songs being based on mini stories while the rest unfold into a mini concept revolving around an arachnid horror – typical creepy King Diamond stuff heh heh! Still, the early songs like ‘From The Other Side’ and ‘Killer’ definitely sound straight out’ve Mercyful Fate’s portfolio, while ‘The Poltergeist’, with its generous keyboards, almost takes a 70s pomp rock style – if only it wasn’t so chilling! Re-mastered by partner in crime guitarist Andy LaRocque, the new sound is probably the best current technology can yield, being both surrounding as well as deep and as close to a live performance itself. As such all the instruments can now all be fully heard through the crystal clarity mix and appreciated in their technical perfection – not in the least LaRocque‘s own virtuoso guitar playing like on ‘Six Feet Under’, matched only by King Diamond’s faultless falsetto performance noting either ‘Dreams’ or ‘Moonlight’. Now included is a four track bonus CD with previously unreleased demos dating back to 1992 recorded by LaRocque on guitar and King Diamond playing rhythm, keyboards and programming the drum machine! While not near the quality of the remaster, the demos are nevertheless still of listenable quality, offering a stripped down early Mercyful Fate sound in ‘Moonlight’ and an even more spooky version of ‘The Spider’s Lullabye’ with its somber keyboards and in particular, macabre piano which I actually think is better than the final studio versions! Lastly ‘Dreams’, which actually featured the rest of the band at the time (Herb Simonsen – guitar; Chris Estes – bass; Darrin Anthony – drums) has a far heavier, compact riffing sound which gives it a nice chugging groove. All in all these demos definitely offer a glimpse into the talented mind of King Diamond’s composing and their evolution over time, which when coupled with the remaster certainly make this a savoring treat!