I have a rule where I don’t normally review classic albums. Ya know the ones, the albums no one ever shuts up about or the albums that are often titled as everyone should listen to. When deciding if I was going to review King Diamond’s Abigail, I thought well everyone loves it right? Is the album still talked about? I quickly realized King Diamond fans love this album, but do most metal fans even know he is? Wait a New York minute! Before you bring pitch forks to my house just listen. A lot of metal fans today seem to just be obsessed with the latest emo trash or the same Slayer and Pantera albums. King Diamond isn’t obscure. His albums have been revered as wonderful, but a lot of newer fans don’t of him and a lot of metalheads simply don’t understand why his music is so great.
This album was released in 1987. Around that time, King had done 2 albums with Mercyful Fate. He wanted a less spiritual band that was more about just anything. Plus he still wanted to make music after Hank Shermann wanted Mercyful Fate to be more commercial. Diamond declined which led to the band breaking up. All of these events that transpired led to the Kind Diamond band with Michael Denner and Timi Hansen on board. Abigail was later released as the second King Diamond album and the first concept album with story and vocals by Diamond.
Since this is a concept album, it features a narrative throughout. Every song moves the plot forward and there’s a point to it. As soon as you hear “that must be it” you know you’re in it for the long haul. It makes it clear what it’s about as long as your of average intelligence, but there’s still enough room to think of more deep elements that aren’t said outright. It’s not prog exactly, but it certainly has some elements of that. It’s certainly not pretentious like a lot of prog bands can be thankfully.
The story itself follows, Miriam Natias and Jonathan La’Fey, who move into an old mansion that La’Fey inherited. It takes place in the summer of 1845. At their arrival they are warned by seven horsemen not to move into the house because if they do “18 will become 9.” They do not heed the warning and proceed to move into the mansion. During their first night, Jonathan meets with Count La’Fey, the Family Ghost, who is a deceased relative. The ghost shows him a casket in which a corpse of a stillborn child, Abigail, rests. The ghost informs him that Miriam is carrying the spirit of Abigail and that the child will soon be reborn. He insists that Jonathan must kill Miriam at once to prevent the rebirth.
I have to explain exactly what this album means to me. You see, when I first picked it up I had no idea what was going on, but I knew something was inherently special. The second time I listened (when I understood the vocals) I was floored. At that time, I had no idea music could achieve something like this. Abigail brought me into a beautiful horror story with equally beautiful guitars and unworldly vocals. The way Diamond carried the album only contributed to how creepy and out there it was. It was like nothing i had ever heard. Something amazing went over me that day. It thought me music could be more. It wasn’t about super catchy songs with this album or a bottom line. It was about conveying a narrative and putting a picture in our minds.
With the lyricism on this album we’re given a clear picture of every horrifying moment. This is all further convinced by the beautiful instruments. It was all done so well. Every detail has something special about that pulls you in. Diamond partly does this by mixing up vocals throughout. On the track “The Family Ghost”, there are so many changes in pitch or style it puts the image the lyrics are trying to convey all that much better in a way only King Diamond can. You have to listen to it to truly understand, but I feeling I heard first hearing that song was momentous. This was the album that made me truly love music. Abigail made me want to pursue making my own songs. The idea that a conceptual story could be conveyed such other worldly beauty was awe inspiring.
Now sure, I did listen to some Black Sabbath and Danzig before this and I was a fan. But this album brought everything to a new level. It evolved my music tastes to notice and appreciate more. Bands like Rob Zombie that I listened to are just kinda catchy and that’s all I appreciated. I didn’t understand the deeper aspect of music. I wasn’t brought to another world like i was with this album.
It’s not just this album having an amazing story, great production, great lyrics, haunting vocals, and killer instrumentals. It’s also this album breaking me into a bigger world of music. Teaching me that there’s more then the pop fodder out there. Like I god movie, I can relisten to this over and over and still be taken back to the first time I listened to it. It’s that supernatural first experience I had with it that changed my view of music that makes this one of my favorite albums of all time. 10 out of 10.