In these tumultuous times, the rights of the fetus, the infant, and the toddler have, somehow, survived. The right to transition from embryo to child in nine days, rather than nine months; the right to lash out and gain complete control of one’s own mother; the right to throw your unsuspecting father down slippery stairs; the right to explore one’s festering sarcophagus and eat until satisfied: these are the rights of our children—born and yet to be born. Privileges first chiseled on stone in 1987, privileges laid down by their founder and greatest defender: King Diamond. Without the unfaltering dedication by this respectable institution, this world would be in shambles. And, I for one, owe the man behind the scenes a debt of gratitude. Without our King, these sacred rights would fall to the wayside. The desire of our children to be more than helpless, swaddled bundles of cuteness would vanish from civilization. King is, by far, the greatest individual to grace this… [Grier finds himself interrupted by a sound coming from the far side of the house. Home alone with his daughter Abbie, he ventures into the kitchen to see what she has found in the pantry. “Abbie, you better not be getting into the cand… what are you eating?? Oh, Jesus Christ, stop!!”].

Can you believe it’s been thirty years since Abigail first graced us with her presence (and fifteen years since she returned to us once more)? In those thirty years, there are been a lot of mighty releases from this horror-loving outfit. But, arguably (by millions of motherfuckers, like myself), Abigail is the best. Before Missy, before Lucy, before Angel, before Victoria, there was Abigail. That white coffin, with the black “ABIGAIL” etched on its side, is about as iconic to the King Diamond character as face paint and cross-bones mic stand. Like Grandma, Abigail is a character that ties the entire King Diamond mythos together.

But Abigail’s not the only one needed for the story. Miriam, Jonathan, O’Brian, hell… even the goddamn mansion: not a one could be dismissed from the tale. Just the same, Abigail is nothing without the album’s true character—the thick layers of reverb, Mikkey Dee’s insatiable love for the center of a cymbal (even more so on “Them”), and all the mystery surrounding “18 is 9.” You want mystical lands and ever-expanding microcosms? Places you are familiar with, environments you can watch evolve, textures you can feel, sense, touch? I mean, you have to be a twisted sum bitch to want to live, taste, and breathe this world. But King Diamond is one of those bands I “get” and I can’t help but let Abigail consume me.

From a storytelling standpoint, Abigail is nothing without tracks like “Funeral,” “Arrival,” “The 7th Day of July 1777,” and “Black Horsemen.” From a songwriting standpoint, Abigail is nothing without “A Mansion in Darkness,” “Family Ghost,” “Abigail,” and “Black Horsemen.” Though songs like “Arrival” and “The 7th Day of July 1777” are good even without their lyrics, it’s their individual contributions to the concept that make them great. It’s where we first meet Miriam and Jonathan as they arrive through a raging storm to the home that would take their lives and it’s where we discover (along with Jonathan) the truth behind that fateful day when there appeared a small sarcophagus in the LaFey family crypt. Interspersed in and around these story highlights, a couple of King Diamond classics live. “Mansion in Darkness” is as good an album single as there ever was one. And “Family Ghost” is a better one. And together they are a one-two punch that King only ever challenged with “Them”‘s “Welcome Home” and “Invisible Guests.” There’s not much more that can be said about this pair. A couple listens and they speak for themselves.

And, as you know—because everyone knows—”Black Horsemen” is both instrumental to the story, as well as a goddamn gem. Not only is it the story’s climax and conclusion, it’s also one of the best songs the band has ever written. With acoustic guitars that remind me of Mercyful Fate‘s “Into the Coven,” “Black Horsemen” captures Abigail’s resurrection, Jonathan LaFey’s slippery staircase murder, and O’Brian’s capture of the corpse-sucking infant via the most concise eight-minute piece out there. If there was ever an album that defied the “random” button on your media player, this is it. To listen to “Arrival” without “Funeral” before it, or “Abigail” without “Black Horsemen” behind it, is like trying to drive a car without its engine. Something only a fool would attempt.

Abigail is a dark journey. One that initiated a career spanning some thirty years of storytelling. And though I had much to say last year about the band’s 1986 debut, Fatal Portrait, this is (for me) where it really begins. Abigail was the beginning of uninterrupted concepts, of stories that are just as good on summer days as Halloween nights, of classic heavy metal painted with demonic falsettos. If you’ve never been a fan (most likely due to King’s vocal style), look to the guitar work and storytelling. The vocals will come around. If you are a diehard fan, like me, take this piece as a tribute to one of metal’s most unique records.

And now, little Abbie rests snuggly in her little bed, the lights are all extinguished but a small candle, a glass of bourbon sits on the side table, and my ancient Abigail picture disc begins its warped wabble around the turntable. The time has come for me to say goodnight.


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  • Reese Burns

    Without even looking, I KNEW this was an A.N. Grier write-up!

    • He’s the undisputed King of King Diamond fanboyism.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        Nice to see the Dr. and Abigail finally get their day in the sun (or the crypt).

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          I can finally die now.

          • [not a Dr]

            Take him, and bring him to the chapel in the forest…

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            I’ve heard that chapel is nice. And I bet O’Brian is a good daddy.

      • [not a Dr]

        Does that make him the Meta-King?

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Yep. King Diamond and bands inspired by him — Dr. A.
      Album art with swords, he-men and mountaintops — Steely D.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Think I’m getting too predictable…

  • Paul VH

    I remember seeing the Family Ghost video for the first time as a young teen and thinking “what the hell is this magnificence?!”. Larocques wicked riff coming off like Crazy Train’s better looking cousin. The glam rock get up of the band juxtaposed against this sinister sounding music……and then King started singing lol
    I was trapped between euphoria and shitting my pants lol
    Been a huge fan ever since!
    Great review.

  • This album sealed the deal for me in getting away from the more hair metal-oriented bands and into “true” metal. I listen to it from stem to stern at least once per week.

  • Matt slatz

    Hey Dr. You forgot “she pushed him down stairs”. “TOOOOOOO DIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEE”

  • Matt slatz

    And also how bout a ‘Yer metal follow up almost diminishes the original’ for Abigail 2

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      It’s coming…

      • If you guys do a piece on Abigail 2, please let it at least be one of your “indefensible position” writeups giving it the benefit of the doubt. The story is sloppy, yes, arguably a bad move, but damn that album is so much fun (at least to me, dammit!).

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          It will be…

          • Matt slatz

            Grab the thesaurus……you can only can use crap 3 times before losing literary Dr. Status

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Shit…

          • well shit, looking forward to it, in the meantime I’ll be putting broken glass in someone’s dinner (dear).

    • Jón Aldará

      Abigail II was his best output since The Eye. Maybe not a classic album, but some cool songs, nonetheless.

      • Matt slatz

        House of God destroys Abigail 2. Dr can you referee this argument?

  • drug_genosh

    goddammit. I want to like King Diamond, there seems to be so much to love (those guitars!) but I just cant. And yes, its those vocals, but not all the vocals – just the falsetto vocals (more like FALSE-ettos, emirite?). To me, they sound like someone making fun of the vocal style…how can I take this seriously?! I want to!

    • If you want to take it seriously, you really gotta embrace Andy LaRocque’s guitar first and foremost, THEN you have to come around and embrace King’s vox. When I first took notice was hearing the Abigail Live album…it was absolute insanity to me (never had heard anyone “shred” like that before) and I’ve been a fan ever since!

      • drug_genosh

        i’ll try to go this route – I cant pass up quality shred

        • [not a Dr]

          The drumming is also spectacular. Listen for the little details, like grandma knocking at the door at the beginning of Welcome Home (on Them), or the Black Horsemen’s horses slowing down their gallop after their ride from beyond near the end of Black Horsemen (on Abigail). These little gems are all over the place.

        • Man I hope those vox click with ya. Fwiw, while I love the original Abigail album and the live version, I think that infamous falsetto style got even better on the Them and Conspiracy albums (the guitar shred has always been great!)

          • [not a Dr]

            It was still pretty convincing on The Eye, which was how I discovered King Diamond.

          • drug_genosh

            so, for an update, I’m digging it more but every time I give it a listen I end up listening to related music. First Thought Patterns because I had to re-hear those solos and then Mercyful Fate’s Don’t break the Oath, which, at the moment I like way more than KD (whoops). Also, I gave conspiracy a listen because a lot of people on here seem to point to that record but honestly, from my limited listens, I think Abigail is much better. I’ll keep listening though!

      • ssorg

        If you want the LaRocque solos without the King, you can always listen to Death’s Individual Thought Patterns. It’s a bit uncanny how distinctive his sound is (and that it works for both Death and King Diamond)

        • drug_genosh

          oh weird, I had no idea. “..Thought Patterns” is probably my least favorite (don’t shoot me) death album but not because of the solos. i’ll keep that in mind next time I listen to it.

          • ssorg

            Bah! It also has Steve DiGrigorio on bass (who does some amazing work on that album), which makes it a pretty amazing amalgamation of talent. But to each her/his own!

          • drug_genosh

            I love DiGrigorio (!) but I love Human more. However, I think his talents are put to better use in Sadus, I always felt his bass work was a little sidelined in death (less so on “thought..” ill admit)

        • It is of my opinion that Andy’s lead in “Trapped in a Corner” is the GOAT of metal guitar solos…just thinking of it gives me the goosebumps!

    • [not a Dr]

      One of my friends once used a 4-track recorder to play Conspiracy at half speed. We got all the awesome details that are hard to hear on regular speed.
      King’s voice happens to sound regular timbre at that speed. We also observed that his falsetto’s vibrato fits perfectly with the beat.

      • drug_genosh

        hmmmm….maybe if I 45 @ 33!? that could be the key

        • [not a Dr]

          I’m sure there is software nowadays that can simplify the task.

          • drug_genosh

            wheres the fun in that?!

    • chitownproud85

      The King took over when I heard “Mansion in the Dark”. The inherent silliness of some of the falsetto lost any giggle effect when that chorus hits and they go from ehhhhhh to terrifying. The first King song I ever heard was “The Candle”, and I remember thinking “nope, not going to be able to deal with this.” Years later, I heard “Mansion” for the first time, and it was over. Whatever I thought of his vocals before that day, died, and instead it was pure amazement.

  • This album taught safe sex back in the 80s better than any health class.

  • Aesir

    The mighty Abigail. I really can’t believe it’s been 30
    years.
    I got into King with Them and that will always be my
    favorite album.
    As for performances. This lineup just had that “magic” to
    it. King lost a lot when Mikkey left, no doubt.
    Great write up.
    Anyone for some Beavis and Butthead? (Family Ghost) :P

  • Jón Aldará

    Abigail and Conspiracy contain some of the very best and most stirring metal music from the 80’s. Strangely, I never got that much into “Them”. Many hail it as his pivotal album, so I’m still trying. But Conspiracy remains my favourite.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Conspiracy is spectacular.

      • ssorg

        The story kinda goes off the rails in Conspiracy. Suddenly “Them” and “Amon” are no longer the baddies, and can do nothing to prevent King falling prey to his mother and the doctor. It’s a bit of a fizzle after all the fun teatime of “Them”. That said, the music is top notch. At the Graves is prob my #1 King Diamond song… crikey it’s good.

        • [not a Dr]

          “Them” were never the baddies. “Them” are just “Them”. The real baddie was Grandma Diamond. This is what is so creepy about the “Them”/Conspiracy story: there are supernatural, amoral beings in it but it turns out the humans (his own family) are the real monsters.

          • ssorg

            I thought Grandma was driven mad because of her “friends” who she could only chill with after drinking some tea… or something

          • [not a Dr]

            Could be. I thought that she talked about her invisible tea-drinking guests to someone who decided to help her get better. Or maybe to mommy Diamond, who seems to want to be the owner of the house…

        • [not a Dr]

          On the other hand, what if It’s all in Grandma’s head? King may suffer from the same psychiatric disorder and, by hanging out with his grandma, she shares with him her whole delusion. His mind fills in the blanks and the horrible events (nobody found a trace of Missy). Grandma depends on the house and the teapot to contact Them, but King can just go to the graveyard and chat with Them…

    • Hideous destructor

      Hmm. I think Conspiracy is a couple of notches below Them and Abigail.
      Was aware of KD / MF for a long time before I really got it, but have become a bit obsessed over the past few months. Them is THE album for me.

  • Pulsating Steel

    Words cannot convey how much I love this album. There are so many other amazing things that King / Mercyful Fate have put out but this is their best in my opinion. Favorite song: Abigail. Thanks for the article!

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I tried with words but it’s too hard.

  • Diego Molero

    Of course your daughter’s name is Abbie.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      There was really no way around it.

      • Diego Molero

        Is your wife also a fan? Or you just kinda force her? :p

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          Miriam, you mean? Oh, she’s forced into it…

          • Matt slatz

            “OH IT WAS MAGIC I KNOW”……..

          • Diego Molero

            Miriam, how come I didn’t thought of that…

          • Iain Gleasure

            I said it in another comment but I’ll say it here too: Abigail means “my father’s joy” and Miriam means a few things. “Wished for child” is one, along with “bitter” and “rebellion”.
            Interesting isn’t it?

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Badass.

  • Ferrous Beuller

    I think discovering, “getting” and falling in love with the KD discography (along with MF) will forever be one of my most cherished musical memories. I’ll always have a dark romance with this record. And what a write up.

  • “I mean, you have to be a twisted sum bitch to want to live, taste, and breath this world.”

    Aren’t you missing an “e” in breathe?
    Poor spelling isn’t very metal.

    About the album: The solo at the end of Black Horsemen is amazing!

    • [not a Dr]

      Poor spelling happens to be quite metal:
      Mercyful Fate.
      Motörhead.
      Dëthklok.

      • Very trve!

      • Ok, I stand corrected. I’m a huge Megadeth fan and I didn’t even remember.

        PS: As someone coming from a country adjacent to countries that actually use the ö letter, Motörheads name have always annoyed me. I can’t stop reading it as “Motørhead”. Maybe you’ve got to be Danish, Swedish or German to be annoyed by it.

        • Iain Gleasure

          Apparently German fans always pronounced it right without the umlaut sound, so maybe they weren’t annoyed by it.

      • Reese Burns

        Megadeth & Sadistik Exekution to name 2 more!

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Oh poop.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I like how “breath” got you, but “sum bitch” was ok.

  • [not a Dr]

    This is the article I was waiting for. And hoping for.
    Staying true to the album which it describes, it took its time, Black Horsemen style, to get where it was needed.

  • El_Cuervo

    I think you left some semen on the floor of your review room Doc.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Lots of it.

    • [not a Dr]

      Beware of the slippery stairs…

  • Iain Gleasure

    So interestingly Abigail means ” My father’s joy”. Miriam’s meanings include “rebellion”, “bitter”, “wished for child”, and “ruling one”.

    All quite interesting when you consider their characters…

  • Metrognome26

    This write-up really makes me wish I enjoyed King Diamond. Great article!

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Thanks much!

    • Drew Music

      My thoughts exactly. Perhaps revisit number 7,777 is in order, I want to like these guys dammit.

      • [not a Dr]

        Try approaching it as a story, not as an album.
        Listen to it the same way you would read a short novel that you intend to finish in one sitting.
        Don’t do the dishes or work out or anything else. Just read the lyrics along at the same pace as King wails them in your ears.
        The voice will make much more sense. Or, at least, it will cease to hinder your enjoyment.

        • Drew Music

          I’ve got a few days off on the horizon, might have me a project now. I’ve never been anti-KD, but they haven’t clicked this many years in and I feel like that’s a weakness on my end.
          There’s nothing trve about not visiting Grandma.

          • Metrognome26

            I like this idea. I may well wind up doing just that. King put in such a great performance at Wacken 2014 that I feel like it’s my fuckup for not liking his music rather than anything on the part of him or his band.

          • Drew Music

            My thoughts exactly. KD has never particularly clicked for me, but I’ve never felt like it was because the music was inferior in any way and I always felt like that was a fault on my end rather than any indicator of the band’s quality.
            Maybe I’m just not believing hard enough.

  • Paul VH

    I could survive on KD alone!!

  • Project Ross

    This album is so good I named my cat after it.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      It’s so damn good, I named my kid after it.

      • Project Ross

        Damn. I should have saved it in case I ever have a daughter.

  • Sharp-Blunt Boy

    Last year, we dedicated a day of listening to our favourite concept albums while brewing beer (brewsic club), where one of the offerings was this fine album. The brew ended up a strong, feisty and somewhat malevolent red IPA. We christened the beer ABigAle, in honour of the high pitched warbling it induced.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Holy shit, I want that.

      • [not a Dr]

        me too.

    • [not a Dr]

      I hope the label says “It wasn’t love, she was possessed: POSSESSED!”.

  • For me, the one-two punch of Abigail and Them will never be topped. Two of the strongest concept albums ever created… released within 1.5 years of each other? Craziness.

    Fatal Portrait was a nice teaser, but only hinted at how brilliant the follow up would be. The leap in maturity and songwriting is staggering. LaRocque and Diamond are special, kindred musical souls.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Well said.

  • Wilhelm

    I really wish KD would permit an author to write novels of his concept albums. Abigail in particular because the story is just creepy as hell. There was talk about it many years ago, but nothing ever came of the idea.

    This is my favorite KD album, right up there with Don’t Break the Oath.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Agreed.

    • Reese Burns

      You know, you’re definitely on to something with that idea. I’d buy a Them novel in a heartbeat.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    I love this album too. I can’t decide which is my favourite Them or Abigail, both are stone cold classics of the genre.
    I’d like to add that those two albums are also two of my favourite album covers. Dripping with atmosphere they totally prime you for musical journey. I never understood why he dropped this more illustrative style of art after these albums. I remember feeling disappointed when I first saw the cover to Conspiracy (brilliant album) it tottally lacked the gravitas of the preceding 3 albums. He did return to it only once (I think) with Voodoo.
    Great write up Doc love your work and your daughters name!

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I appreciate the kind words! And I agree, I love these album covers.

    • Bryan Stroup

      Abigail and Them are both fantastic, but the production on Them is really bad for some reason in comparison. My third favorite is probably The Eye, with Conspiracy close behind.

  • contenderizer

    Man, if only the Democrats had run this album against Trump… ;_;

  • John Mosley

    I am super late to this party. Type O Negative and Pallbearer sent me delving backward. I’ve always had a strong affection for classic Alice Cooper, whose stamp and stylings are all over King Diamond. Beginnings of a beautiful friendship.

  • Serjien

    Late to this party as usual, but just wanted to say that this is such a beautiful review! I love this album dearly and it is so nice to see someone put into words some of the same feelings I have about it.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      I appreciate it.

  • Bryan Stroup

    Never had a human child named “Abbie”, but I named my female kitten Abigail, and everyone just called her Abbie. Sometimes Gabby, since she wouldn’t stop trying to “talk” to you.

  • Eli Valcik

    My friend just got a tattoo of King Diamond, she now has earned all of the metal cred that I am allowed to give.