Yer Metal Is Olde: King Diamond – “Them”

“Them ass-wipes.” “Them butt-fuckers.” “Them sum bitches.” This kinda name-calling (and more) is what I hear daily in my redneck corner of the world. Who knew a simple swap of “those” to the illiterate “them” could have such an intense effect? It also proves that “them” can be a pretty fucked up descriptor for a class of people. For this reason, it’s not shocking that most people find “them” to be a derogatory word—a blanket statement for those you find inferior to yourself. And, to those that use “them” in this way, I say fuck YOU and fuck “them;” fuck all you and fuck all the fucks that fucking spawned you. Though I’m surrounded by “them,” Grier ain’t one of “them.” You can make fun of Grier all you want for his love of the Almighty King Diamond, but he—and every KD fan on this planet, as a matter of fact—is the most loving person in the metal community.1 Judge me for what I am but, to me, and other KD fans, “Them” ain’t derogatory bullshit. “Them” won’t transform you into a dick-less, redneck loser. No. Instead, “Them” will turn you into a helpless pansy who’ll piss her/his pants at the ring of the doorbell. “Them” will keep you up at night and make your stomach turn at that smell of a warm cup of tea. “Them” will be the reason you fall to the floor and curl up in the fetal position when your grandma comes for the weekend. And, when she arrives, she (along with “Them”) will send all you judgmental sum bitches straight to Hell.

So, let this hell-ride begin with opener, “Out from the Asylum.” Not much of a song, it’s a short introduction of all the key plays: from the fiendish “Them” to the bitchy Grandma, and King, Missy, and Mother. As you ponder over the details surrounding Grandma, this organ-fused piece sets the stage, introducing the characters in a way no other KD album could. Then the shit hits the fan. “Welcome Home” cracks the eerie organ moan with the kinda riffs that made King the King in the ’80s2. And it’s all brought to you by the LaRocque-Blakk guitar duo, ole Hal Patino’s popping bass,3 and Mikkey Dee’s undeniable drum work. As Mikkey raps along the center of his hi-hat, Grandma breaks her silence and all the varying voices of King’s characters come to life.

As King (the character) becomes engrossed in his Grandmother’s lies and falls victim to the stories of “Them,” we progress to other tracks with the same electricity as “Welcome Home.” These include “Invisible Guests,” “Bye, Bye Missy,” and “Accusation Chair.” Not only is “Invisible Guests” arguably one of the best KD songs in the band’s thirty-three-year career, but it’s the second jab to one of the best one-two punches out there. Like Abigail‘s “Mansion in the Darkness”-“Family Ghost” combo, the “Welcome Home”-“Invisible Guests” combination makes for one of the most exciting introductions to a King album.4 But this is no lopsided record, the farewell to sister Missy5 in the killer “Bye, Bye Missy” and the slaying of Grandma in “Accusation Chair” keep this disc moving with no breaks. Not only musically—as these two songs have some of the best riffs of ’80s-era KD—but also story-wise. For many reasons, these are a couple of the most important songs on the album.

The only break to come during the eleven-song, forty-minute “Them” is the short, instrumental title track. But it’s short-lived, progressing into my favorite song on the album: “Twilight Symphony.” Grandma is “dead,” Missy is ashes, and King is fucking insane. “They” continue to haunt our dysfunctional hero as he returns to the House of Amon, using the catchiest chorus this side of “Abigail.” Though the amazing and fucking hilarious “Phone Call” exists on re-releases and The Dark Sides EP, “Coming Home” closes the album as we’ve all come to know it. This organ-drenched story piece finds King (the man) portraying the “ghost” of the throat-slit Grandmother as she tempts King (the character) back into the hell that is Amon.

After diving back into this album, I’ve discovered what a change of direction this was for KD. Vocally, King uses a lot of low grows to portray his characters. A style that haunts albums like “Them”, Conspiracy, and The Eye, but doesn’t appear to the same extent on future records.6 “Them” also marks the beginning of a new era of personnel. Timi Hansen is gone—replaced by Hal Patino—and MF guitar god Michael Denner stepped aside for Pete Blakk. It also marks, for many KD fans, the beginning of the end of the band’s best material.7 Regardless, October is upon us and, instead of dwelling on what’s prime KD album-craft and what’s not,8 let’s get together, share a pot of bloody tea, and let “Them” tell us some of the craziest shit the KD universe has ever possessed.

Show 8 footnotes

  1. All KD fans, minus that ratbastard, Ferrous Bueller.
  2. Primus were the Kings of the 80s. Steel
  3. The best since Mercyful Fate‘s indisputable bass god, Timi Hansen.
  4. The best is the one coming in next year’s YMIO article…
  5. Burning her alive in the family fireplace…
  6. Though he did quite a bit of lower-register stuff when he was pulling double-duty between KD and MF in the ’90s.
  7. Don’t worry, the YMIO pieces will still be coming.
  8. The Graveyard and House of God aren’t that bad.
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