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Class 6(66)

King Diamond: Them

27/04/12  ||  Sokaris

Introduction

King Diamond loses a guitarist and a bassist and is faced with the task of following up “Abigail” what many (myself included) consider a perfect album. How does he respond? By finding outstanding talent to replace the ex-members and beginning a two album horror story and outselling “Abigail” all without bucking the astonishing album-per-year trend that had been going since the beginning.

Songwriting

9. Just the slightest step down from “Abigail.” The flaws are so minor and basically inconsequential that I’m probably an asshole just for pointing them out. The only real notable offender is third track “Tea.” It’s a good song but it’s probably the weakest track and it comes right after the opening one-two punch of “Welcome Home” and “The Invisible Guests” making the album lose a little steam. It’s mainly the chorus which drags just a little. I’d even go so far as to say it’s a little bit (wait for it…) teadious.

Production

10. Crystal clear but still heavy. Every piece of the kit, every note of each riff, bass flourishes and all of King’s vocal antics come through with clarity while meshing together beautifully.

Guitars

10. Pete Blakk is an unsung hero. He rose to the occasion, filling Michael Denner’s shoes with flair, employing a flashier style that probably fit the band even better. His constant solo battleing with LaRocque is one of the most entertaining elements of King Diamond’s music. I didn’t count but it seems like this album is packed even fuller to the brim with insane shredding, tremolo bar acrobatics and the like.

Vocals

10. King Diamond goes even more theatrical, playing several characters. The intro features him doing a conversation between the titular “Them” (interestingly sans effects) showcasing some of his best voice-acting. The falsettos soar and he flings wildly between low grumbles, whispers, mid-pitched shouts, screams and whatever else fits the current section of music.

Bass

8. A trade up in the four string department. Timi Hansen adds a nice, audible blanket of low groove that occasionally pushes up through the guitars to add some additional melody and rhythm. Considering all of the flashy elements at work it’s always pleasant that there’s room for bass as its own instrument in the band.

Drums

9. Mikkey’s playing in King Diamond has really come away. “Welcome Home” has a main drum line that is both extremely catchy and somewhat technical. He’s one of those drummers that just injects a ton of personality in his playing. You remember his fills and his beats are always inventive and catchy.

Lyrics

10. The story is set in modern times with King playing himself as a young boy in the story. The plot involves an old woman with a connection to some kind of evil within their house, blood-drinking and possession. I can’t imagine there’s another metal album with the words “grandma”, “tea” and “wheelchair” as much as this one. The fact that KD can sound like a badass while shrieking about his nana is irrefutable proof that he’s cooler than any of us.

Cover art

10. I’m not entirely sure why I like this as much as I do. A large Victorian mansion sits atop a hill surrounded by forest with light visible only in the attic. Realistically the image features no explicit horror elements, everything is implied. There’s the whole idea that something disturbing lurks behind a seemingly innocuous façade which is kind of the theme of the album. Tea is blood, the house is an abode of terrifying spirits and grandma might just kill you.

Logo

9. In white again, I think it would’ve looked even cooler to have it pass just behind the top point of the attic. Also want to point out that I like the quotation marks around the album title. More of that implication business with things being something other than they seem.

Booklet

7. The reissue, Don Kaye’s ranting present. The liner notes mostly include quotes from King on the album and its bonus tracks. That should’ve just been the entirety of any extra text included. Anyway, I do really like the little letter at the beginning where King implies that everything in this album is part of his own childhood. Hmm, I just noticed the numbers 18 and 9 are both mentioned in the letter. It all connects! Well not necessarily but the next album “Conspiracy” would be a continuation of the story here. Everything’s set up for a sequel nicely.

Overall and ending rant

King Diamond continues to astound with another masterpiece in “Them”. Losing a couple members did nothing to kill momentum and the band issue another slab of top-notch heavy metal, filled with absolute classic songs. Indispensable from any well-rounded traditional metal collection and recommended to absolutely anyone with a taste for the King’s brand of music.

9,5

  • Information
  • Released: 1988
  • Label: Roadrunner Records
  • Website: www.covenworldwide.org
  • King Diamond: vocals, keyboards
  • Andy LaRocque: guitars
  • Pete Blakk: guitars
  • Timi Hansen: bass
  • Mikkey Dee: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Out from the Asylum
  • 02. Welcome Home
  • 03. The Invisible Guests
  • 04. Tea
  • 05. Mother’s Getting Weaker
  • 06. Bye, Bye Missy
  • 07. A Broken Spell
  • 08. The Accusation Chair
  • 09. Them
  • 10. Twilight Symphony
  • 11. Coming Home