26/11/2003

1. Midnight
2. The Puppet Master
3. Magic
4. Emerencia
5. Blue Eyes
6. The Ritual
7. No More Me
8. Blood To Walk
9. Darkness
10. So Sad
11. Christmas
12. Living Dead
 
Vocals: King Diamond
Lead Guitar: Andy La Rocque
Lead Guitar: Mike Wead
Bass: Hal Patino
Drums: Matt Thompson
 

KING DIAMOND: "The Puppet Master"                      Massacre Records

Review  by Matthew "Matt" Haumschild____    


Maybe a little bit of explanation is needed before I sing praises and critisize this CD. For King Diamond is not your typical artist. Unlike other bands out there, when King Diamond writes and records a CD, he basically writes what amounts to a horror story and adapts music to it. Sort of like a concept album, only King Diamond goes a little further than that. King Diamond has been doing this for more than twenty years. This should tell you something. He's dedicated and he has a formula that works. Not only that, I personally think it is a highly original way to compose music. Sure, this is already done in Opera and other musicals, but not to the extent of how brutal some of these lyrics and idea's are that King Diamond portrays them to be. I also want to point out that King Diamond is not your typical singer either. For a man, he sings in a high pitched voice. Most times sounding like a female. Yes, he is doing this on purpose and no he does not sound like the singers from pop-boy bands either. He actually has a lower mid-range voice, he intentially raises it to add depth to his lyrics and to the music and sounding original at the same time. His style of singing is not of everyones tastes. When I first heard him sing, I laughed hystarically and I thought he was..well..not so much a man but more female sounding. Yet, it was addiciting and almost like a breath of fresh air.

              Looking at this album, when I first picked it up, I had a hard time listening to it. knowing full well what I had written in the above paragraph, I was having a hard time following the songs and the lyrics. Granted I was driving and I had my girlfriend next to me so I couldn't exactly be anylitical and pick apart everything. Luckily, I bought the Digi-pak version which has a DVD of King Diamond telling the story. In a way writing this, I feel like a complete dope for watching the DVD before giving the CD a couple listens over before watching the DVD. Actually, if you can get the digi-pak version. Get it and watch the DVD first so you dont have to sit and read the typed lyrics in the book to get exactly whats happenng in the songs. After I watched King Diamond recite the story I began to listen to the CD differently. For if you were to buy the CD, not knowing what I had mentioned in the above paragraph, you might forget that you bought the CD and putting it on the shelf in the suck section not knowing how good this CD actually is. Below I am going to rate the songs that do stand out to me. Because this CD is a horror story, and the King would like you to buy this   CD so I won't give away any of the details regarding the actual story it self for that would spoil the fun.

              "The Puppet Master"
                It's too bad, that he didn't edit the beginning of this song with the last sample of the previous track. In the track before it, at the very end, it's King saying in a deep voice "Let the show begin" in otherwise a slower darker song. "The Puppet Master" starts out very fast, with double kick drums going at it with an opening melodic solo by Mike Weed.  In a way it sounds typical of the 'good' metal from the 80's (slayer/metallica). Then King comesin with a perfect first line of a verse you could have with this song. The riffs in this song is great  and the execution of the lyrics and they way they are sung are even better. This type of arrangement of lyrics and vocal tracks, I think has been lost in the metal world, no matter which style. However, this song does have it's faults. The way it's mixed. The guitars and vocals drown out the drums! Sure you can hear them, but it's almost as if they are not important. the kick drums could sound a little tighter too. this could be for budget reasons too why they don't sound their best. for it may take hours even days to perfect that instruments sound. I still wasn't happy with the overall mix (when I mean mix, I mean sound levels) of this song. howver, the mix changes as the album marchs on.  

              "Magic"
               I really like this track for it has alot of melodic sounding parts. And the vocal overlays that King does on the chorus sounds wonderful. The solo work by both guitar players is a testament, that this type of guitar playing is on the rise. This track has alot of similar qualities as the last track only t his one slows down, speeds up, slows down and then gradually speeds up again. This song is very melodic sounding.

               "Blue Eyes"
               On this one, King Diamond has a female singer by the name of Livia Zita, who sings the "Victoria" parts of the story and she makes her first appearance on this CD on this track. There are alot of solos on this track, so if your into solos, this track is for  you. I mention this track because the combonation of Livia and King during the chorus is unmatched in the world of rock. I say rock because there truly isn't a good comparason of a duet (kind of a duet anyway at least in the chorus) in Rock only in Opera and other theatrical musicals you could compare this to, but it's not the same genre so I can't compare it at all. These two sound, phenominal. Espcially when they are both sining the line "Blue eyes, blue eyes , blue eyes I recogize." It sounds quite refreshing. The rest of this song also has alot of time changes involved.

               "So Sad"
               In a way, King sounds very cheesy on this track. Obviously, Livia is a younger woman, probably in her mid-twenties and you have a man who is in his forties (even fifties) singing that they love each other in the song. It could be me personally, but it just doesn't sound right. Granted, this all part of the story, and this part had to be told to add more depth to the upcoming tracks, but King could have done something different. Especially when he whispers "I love you too!", it just makes me want to toss. She sounds brilliant though. Most of the actual lyrics arn't so bad. However, one line that I can remember "Do you remember the butterfly?"..."It made me cry"..."I know..but we dried it's wings so it could fly" THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE SONG OR THE STORY it's sounded awful! Sure, maybe an example of things they used to do, but King could have thought up something better than this! However, this song has a really good part, that gave me goosebumps, when Livia sang/said in a voice I can't forget because it sounded so real, "I can't see you anymore." She genuinly sounded sad. It was great. The rest of the actual music sounded briallant regardless of some of the awful lyrics, slow, sad, depressing and a overall feeling of a waiting for the end. This is why, this  is one of the most listened to tracks on this CD I personally play over and over again. Mainly for Livia's vocal talent on this track.

               "Christmas"
               I never thought King Diamond would compose a song by this title. He already has another song (on another album) called, "No Presents For Christmas" but that's a different type of song altogether. This song starts out with an exerpt from "The Little Drummer Boy", again something I never would have thought King Diamond would ever use. But it sounded great with the song! There are alot of minor chords played during this song. To me, this is a great new Christmas song or a more seasoned mtal fanatic like myself. It's a little depressing but the main riffs arnt slow at all, more of a jogging pace. This song also has about five parts to it, which makes it more unique where most songs might have three or four. At this point also, I noticed a change in the way the drums sound. the kick drums had finally improved in sound quality as with the rest of the mix. You could even hear some of the bass. This is another great song well worth listening to. I would consider this one an automatic classic to make a MP3 of and to distribute to people.

              Overall I love this CD. This is a brilliant record from a master story teller. The only thing I see wrong with this is, that if a person, who had seen him in concert, but didn't know what was really up with him, buys this or any of his CDs probably won't get it. Meaning, he'll just pass this off as a bad CD or any of his other CDs. this is a problem with this CD especially. That it really wasn't created in hopes of gathering a new fan base and this could hinder the band. Granted, King has been doing this for twenty years, but this band deserves much more attention and so does this CD. If you read my first paragraph and understand it, then go get this CD by all means! If not, don't blame me if you don't like it. This is a brillant CD, worth having in your CD archives.

 
 
Rating: 9 out of 10

Sonic Quality: 7 out of 10

Mix Quality: 6.5 out of 10

 
 

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