When writing reviews, the job of the reviewer is to judge the album on its own merits. Only then and even this is in dispute amongst those who review music is it acceptable to compare it to other works by the same artist or to different artists altogether to assist in making your point and to give the reader an easy summation by saying this sounds like this or this isnt as good as this.
This method could be described as lazy on both the part of the writer for not having the vocabulary for reviewing on an individual basis and the reader for needing such a summation.
The thing is when youre lucky enough in your musical career to have released an album of legend and acclaim, the flip side to that coin is that legendary album sets the watermark for all future works to be judged by.
With King Diamond, that album of legend is 1987s Abigail and if youve read this far, Im going to contradict everything Ive just said and let you off the hook - Give Me Your Soul Please isnt as good. Not by a long shot.
King Diamond has enjoyed consistent success since the dissolution of his previous band Mercyful Fate despite less-than-consistent solo works like The Spiders Lullaby and the ill-advised Abigail II. But the past is the past. Give Me Your Soul Please is Kings eleventh studio album and while its far from the mans best work, it remains a solid effort with two major things working against it.
1) The title. King Diamond has his fans and loyal as they may be, a title such as Give Me Your Soul Please isnt going to have the neophytes taking it seriously. As if the makeup isnt a hard enough pill to swallow for the uninitiated.
2) I know the bands been doing this awhile now (well, maybe not this roster this could quite possibly be the only band that changes its members more than Megadeth. Look it up, bro. Thats a lot.), but the album seems to lack that certain energy that winds up as a severe detriment to the theatrics the band is known for.
As with most of King Diamonds albums, there is a story thread connecting all the songs, which involves Macabre for Dummies. Oversimplified horror vignettes that arent done any favors when read on their own, but when conjoined with the music can be effective enough to satiate.
This time around the story is told in the first and third person as King encounters a dead girl and her little brother trying to pass to the other side by you guessed it taking the soul of another. The band is fully capable long-time guitarist Andy LaRoque provides some solid solo work but really nothing retainable.
Many in the past have written off King Diamond. Voodoo was a particularly low point followed by a resurrection of sorts with the underrated House of God, a viciously brutal piece of work that never made King Diamonds already outspoken views on Christianity more clear. King Diamond was after all the first and one of the only artists of the eighties to out himself as a practicing Satanist. This is at a time when singing about Satan was a common gimmick in heavy music but was really about nothing more than an image created to sell albums. A practice Slayer and Venom continue to this day.
Another point of contention is the inclusion of Hungarian vocalist Livia Zita first heard on Kings previous album The Puppet Master. Dont misconstrue the woman is a fine singer whose inclusion should be an asset to anyone mucky enough to have her, yet here provides nothing more than a glaring reminder that King Diamond is without a doubt one of the most unique (see: love-it-or-hate-it) vocalists in music, and thus shouldnt need another person to share vocal duties no matter how good they are. It brings an unwanted opera-esque feel to what should remain Grand Guignol cabaret.
The mans abilities have come into question in recent years whether that mondo-falsetto style has become too much for him to achieve successfully. After all this is what hes been known for since the debut album of Mercyful Fates Nuns Have No Fun EP back in 1982. This is his cross to bear, so to speak. Whether or not these rumblings are true remains to be seen. The last five times this particular reviewer has attempted to see the man live, the show has been cancelled and these days with todays technology, who can trust a live album to be an accurate depiction? I prefer to reserve judgment. Guilty until proven innocent, no? King Diamond can release mediocre albums until doomsday but the fact that he knows his audience like the back of his hand and gives them their spooky stories each and every time, they will respond in kind by turning a blind eye to said mediocrity as they continue to buy each album hoping for better but not really caring if they get it.
Kenneth Anger, Celtic Frost, Lords of Chaos, The Satanic Bible
6.9 / 10
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