King Diamond: 30 years of Abigail

On a cold October night in 1987, King Diamond unleashed their second album, Abigail. Following the somewhat rough around the edges delivery of their debut album, Fatal Portrait, it was the first time the band attempted a concept album. It was a bold decision, but30 years later, Abigail still stands out as a landmark ’80s metal release.

The story revolves doomed couple, Miriam Natias and Jonathan La’Fey, who are warned by seven horsemen not to movie into a mansion that La’Fey has inherited. La’Fey then encounters the family ghost, Count De La’Fey, who shows him the corpse of a child who is the main antagonist of the story, Abigail herself. Jonathan is told that Miriam is carrying the spirit of the child, and to prevent her from being born he must kill Miriam.

The narration of the album twists and turns through the story, including a look back at events including the Count and the origins of Abigail, through betrayal, death, and heartbreak. It is, at its core, a classic tale of possession that draws heavily from the classic horror movies of the 1970’s. What makes it just as scary is that with no visual aide and only the classic, riff-driven metal soundtrack provided by the band, you need to use your mind to picture the gruesome tale and the resurrection of Abigail.

Aside from the intricate story that weaves it’s way through the 9 tracks on Abigail, it is one of the strongest metal albums released during the late ’80s. While many bands were becoming a pastiche of themselves, and the hairspray metal explosion was on the rise, King Diamond showed that you could combine pageantry, theatrics and complex songwriting without having to sacrifice dignity or creative integrity.

King Diamond himself puts on one of the vocal performances of his career, switching from a low register growl to an almost countertenor, glass-shattering range. As great as some of his melodies and delivery were early on in his previous band, Mercyful Fate, his eponymous band is that vision finally being realised. It balances out the visceral, unrelenting dual-guitar attack of Andy LaRocque and Michael Denner. Their lightning quick time signatures and tempo changes are leagues above the cock-rock of the day being served up by the plate, with the air-tight rhythm section of Timi Hansen and Mikkey Dee keeping everything locked together, allowing the album to effortlessly flow.

There are few albums where you can genuinely say there isn’t a bad song on the record. Even the harrowing introduction, simply titled Arrival  sends shivers down your spine, before Funeral and A Mansion In The Darkness gallop out the gate like the seven black horsemen that come to life in the albums narrative. It is horror incarnate, with the movie and the soundtrack wrapped up as one entity unlike any other. While many have attempted this formula, few of have been able to match high standards set by Abigail.

30 years after its original release, the legacy of Abigail lives on. The album has seen several reissues, and even a (somewhat lacklustre) follow up album in 2002. Not to mention that as of late, King Diamond have been paying tribute to their career-defining album by performing Abigail in full, complete with a full stage show, which culminated with a triumphant performance at this years Psycho Las Vegas festival. While the story may contain the line, “may she never rise and cause evil again,”the memory of Abigail is here to stay.

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