King Diamond live review – London Forum

Metal’s regal maverick King Diamond revisits a high point. Check out our live review here...

King Diamond live photo, London

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The self-titled 1980 debut album of influential NWOBHM crew ANGEL WITCH [6] still sounds great today, which is remarkable. Kevin Heybourne makes a spirited frontman and the sound is nicely guitar-heavy for a support band.

While it’s too easy to daydream during a couple of the more pedestrian songs, there’s no arguing with the closing Angel Witch, which rouses a mighty chorus chant from the audience and paves the way for a certain great Dane. You could make a case for Abigail, the 1987 album from KING DIAMOND [9], if not being the greatest metal concept album ever then definitely the greatest horror-themed one, marrying its creepy story to some restlessly creative European metal.

Tonight, the King and his stoic band of men play Abigail in full, while striding around a wonderful two-tier set, complete with all the gothic trappings our black hearts could desire: gargoyles, pentagrams, the works. The King’s Alice Cooper-style theatrics are kept to a minimum, and convey dark, tongue-in-cheek fun as opposed to anything pompous. Roadies dressed as hooded monks deliver and remove guitars as required, while an actress undergoes a series of costume changes and energetically gives birth to a doll. At one point, Diamond walks through a thick cloud of dry ice and wafts it away with exaggerated hand swipes. His legendarily unique voice is still pitch perfect, switching from sinister growls to eerie falsetto at the drop of a black top hat. His musicians are great too, making even the most involved songs appear effortless to play. Arrival, A Mansion In Darkness and Sleepless Nights in particular are just ridiculously thrilling, but the whole set earns a rapturous response. If you really crave a little criticism, we might question the King and co starting with six tracks from solo albums and the Mercyful Fate era, then closing with Abigail. Airing an album in full and ending on its final track, rather relies on that track being a stone cold classic. But even though Black Horsemen arguably doesn’t quite make that grade and there’s no encore, it doesn’t really matter because we already had all the horror metal we can handle. A screamingly superb show from one of metal’s top mavericks.

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Jason Arnopp
Freelance Writer

Jason Arnopp is a veteran metal scribbler, with a passion for thrash metal, horror movies, vinyl and VHS. He's also the author of scary novels like The Last Days Of Jack Sparks (2016) and Ghoster (2019). Runs two YouTube channels, including Possessed By Metal. Guess what that one's about, eh?