Picks and Pans Review: Them

updated 09/19/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/19/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

King Diamond

King Diamond is not your run-of-the-mill heavy-metal singer. Most of these guys have morbid imaginations, fueled by too many scary movies during their formative years. They probably think the devil looks like Ernest Borgnine with rams' horns on his head. King is a little, uh, different. The Danish singer, whose real name is Kim Petersen, is the only self-professed practicing satanist on the metal circuit. Through bitter experience, he's found that even if he explains that the devil made him do it, discussing his current beliefs only creates confusion and rancor in the American public. More importantly, it knocks the hell, so to speak, out of record sales. So K.D. is keeping a low profile as far as the old Black Masses go. But that's the only thing he's keeping a low profile on. He always appears in public in his trademark makeup: black bat wings over his eyes and, if he's feeling sporty, an inverted cross on his forehead. He calls his music horror metal because he likes to turn each album into a protracted Gothic ghost story, full of things that go bump in the night. His biggest album, for instance, was last year's Abigail, a concept package recounting the story of a 19th-century couple preyed upon by the spirit of a young girl who once lived in the castle they have moved into. Similarly, Them tells of an old woman who returns from an asylum and, in a bloody ritual, frees the evil creatures in her gabled mansion. She is aided by a young man named King (ooh, scary) who may be her grandson. Only after King sees his whole family killed does he turn against the woman—hey, a guy can get pretty caught up in applying makeup, you know. As a singer, King has an ominous, minatory tenor, ranging up to a piercing falsetto that makes him sound like an agitated ferret. The accompaniments are standard-metal music with the squalling guitar solos provided by Andy la Rocque and Pete Blakk. You'll probably never hear any of these lullabies on radio, but the songs Tea and Bye, Bye Missy are the most creative of the bunch. What a card that King Diamond is. Horror metal, huh? Is rock music great or what? (Roadracer Records)

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