Wednesday, February 24, 2010

As the Palaces Burned: King Diamond - House of God

On September 24, 1991 Nirvana released Nevermind. Nine years later, a reunited Iron Maiden played Madison Square Garden. The time in between was one of metal's bleaker periods, where the genre's mainstream face all but disappeared and it retreated not just underground, but underwater. To celebrate the rare gems of this dark time - and remember our fortune now that metal has ceased to be such a dirty word - we present As the Palaces Burned, a weekly series published every Wednesday that covers notable metal albums released between 1991 and 2000.

Today's entry is King Diamond's 2000 album House of God.

It should be pretty obvious by now that I love talking Metal. A lot. All the time. And if you have a table full of seasoned Metal-heads drinking beers and eating BBQ before a show you are guaranteed a lot of lively debates. A common one is King Diamond solo versus Mercyful Fate. Another is which King Diamond album is better, Abigail or Them. For the first question my answer is always King Diamond, by a mile. There is one exception, and it will be a future As the Palaces Burned entry. However for the second conversation, most recently sparked in my presence this past Sunday, I usually remain quiet. It is easiest because my answer is neither popular nor expected. While I enjoy all stages of King Diamond's career my favorite is the work he did for Metal Blade, starting with The Spider's Lullabye in 1995. I am going to eventually cover all four albums he recorded during this period, but will start with the album that got me to revisit this era, House of God.

The first thing you have to understand about Metal Blade era King Diamond is that he and Andy LaRocque changed their sound. The technical and sometimes jerky song structures of their earlier work was replaced with a heavier and more direct approach. Personally I think asking anyone to sit through a full length horror themed fictional concept record with a singer who uses multiple characters and voices is already asking a lot. Streamlining the riffs and concentrating on song structures has been a great asset.

The other awesome thing you hear during this iteration of the band are the awesome sound textures that pepper the record. The standout example for me on this album is the track "Goodbye." It is a nice two minute guitar harmony and synth texture which propels the story along without overstaying its welcome.

So....the concept behind House of God. Fun silly little story about Jesus being kept alive in a French Chateau where he has children and legacy and some traveler who is seduced by a she wolf learns that God and Satan are pawns in a larger game. This story has been covered by everyone from the comic book "Preacher" to "the Da Vinci Code." King's twist? Glen Drover from Megadeth playing guitar opposite Andy LaRocque. That beats Dan Brown's shitty writing any day.

Anyone who enjoyed the early King Diamond material and started listening again for his last two albums The Puppet Master and Give me your Soul...Please should check out this masterpiece. And now that all four of these albums are nicely remastered by Andy LaRocque there is not better time like the present.

House of God:

The Trees Have Eyes:

Black Devil:

Piece of Mind:


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