Abigail & Abigail II-The Revenge
Released: 2002, Roadrunner / Metal Blade
February 2002 | Released 1987
Label: Roadrunner | Rating 5/5 | Reviewer: JP
Abigail II-The Revenge
February 2002 | Released 2002
Label: Metal Blade | Rating 5/5 | Reviewer: JP
There are over 20,000 heavy metal releases in existence and less then 1% of those are concept albums. What is a concept album? A CD where all the songs played in a row, in sequence tell a story via the lyrics. Play one song out of order or alone and the lyrics do not make sense standing alone. Each song is a chapter in the story. In the last 4 years there has been a massive proliferation of concept CD’s as metal fans continue reject vapid, nu-metal posing and seek lyrics and stories with substance instead of mindless, juvenile ranting about how much they hate life. Even so there are probably fewer than 200 concept CD’s in existence and in relation to the entire history of metal music since 1970 or so these CD’s are rare and indeed to be treasured.
King Diamond is the undisputed master of the concept album with eight such releases under his belt, more than any other metal artist to date. King Diamond gave us one of the first heavy metal concept CD’s ever with Abigail in 1987. Many people, myself included, felt that Abigail stood as the crown jewel in King’s long, prolific and illustrious career. I have thoroughly enjoyed every KD and MF release since but none of them quite captured that magic of Abigail. It seems that the King himself feels that way by revisiting his triumphant tale of horror, 15 years later.
Abigail II has been long awaited, having been originally slated for release on Halloween, 2001! The three-month delay seemed like an eternity! Reports of a massive Triple Live CD to follow the giant, theatrical tour excited me even more! Supposedly King was to play Abigail and Abigail II in their entirety with a four-song intermission between the sets. Using a system of a maximum of twelve songs selected from over his career and four of those picked at random per night, those twelve tracks recorded over selected dates would encompass the third live CD. As reported here at Metal-Rules.com, the King is having label problems and the future of the massive Abigail tour seems to be in danger.
Tour or no tour, Live CD or no Live CD we still have what are two of the greatest metal concept CD’s of all time.
As mentioned earlier Mr. Diamond’s second solo CD set the bar very high in terms of the entire metal genre, in terms of, song composition and technical ability and of course atmosphere generated by the multiple character storyline itself. The use of sound effects and voices added another dimension to any already dark and brooding CD.
The story, narrated by King, is quite long and complex with multiple characters and covers a time span from July 1777 to 1845. I won’t go over the full story-line here, but it is a classic, gothic tale of horror involving a mansion, a ghost, possession, an affair, murder, revenge and more.
The music itself is truly incredible. Most songs have two or three guitar solos with Michael Denner and Andy Laroque trading off brilliant solo after solo. Acoustic guitar, keyboards and sound effects help to add atmosphere to the haunting tale. Mickey Dee’s drumming is his finest to date. I agree with EvilG, he is wasting his talent in Motorhead…shame. I strongly encourage you to buy or revisit the album that started it all for King Diamonds great career of classic, horror concept CD’s. EvilG’s review of this timeless album is available in our reviews database as well.
ABIGAIL II-The Revenge
What a difference 15 years makes when it comes to presentation! Abigail II features a haunting cover artwork by Travis Smith. The computer-generated images that adorn this 14 page booklet take the horror imagery to a new level. King’s cover art were always dark and horror oriented but occasionally some of them were cartoon-like or perhaps even dull (The Graveyard). Travis does a great job and keeps the purple and black colour scheme of many other covers (Abigail, Them, The Eye, The Graveyard and Voodoo, Nightmares and Black Rose). King is looking as creepy as ever and his new make-up is great.
This CD sees the main core of Andy and King writing all the material. Again King has the revolving door of musicians sees Glen, David and John out the door and Hal Patino back on bass, the highly respected, veteran Mike Wead on guitar (he was born to be in this band) and newcomer Matt Thompson pounding the skins. What is it with King Diamond and short-haired drummers? This is the third in a row!
The CD was recorded in Nomad Studios in Texas as were the last two CD’s were recorded and King’s reputation as a perfectionist in the studio is well deserved. The production is immaculate as always. The high standard of production King has always demanded has been achieved yet again.
The story line continues on with Abigail as a grown woman and revisiting the mansion, the scene of horror so many years ago. I won’t ruin the plot by exposing too many details but essentially Jonathan and Abigail did not die in part one as I had assumed. Needless to say King has produced another lyrical triumph about the family Lefay and and it’s twisted and sordid history of affairs and murder. A keen King fan can catch a few lyrical references to characters and objects from past albums which brought an evil grin to this metal-head’s face!
And at last the music. King Diamond and his assembled crack team of uber-metallions have created the second finest KD solo CD to date. Everything is pure metal perfection, crushing guitars, pounding bass, thunderous drums. To top it off it has King’s freaky multiple voices, orchestration, cool and haunting sound effects and extra character voices. Solos are well constructed and not too frantic and the songs are innovative and avoid a dull verse, chorus verse chorus pattern. Tracks like “More than Pain” and “Sorry Dear” are truly haunting and tracks like “The Storm” and “The Wheelchair” are totally crushing. Mike’s guitarwork on “Spirits” is a highlight, putting musical expression to the lyrical situation of the character, (I won’t reveal who or what) in an almost too perfect solo.
This CD is intense and I thoroughly enjoyed every note. Abigail II is easily a contender for a Top 10 CD of 2002.
If I may make a recommendation… This is not the kind of CD you play while you blast down the highway in your convertible with the top down on a sunny, summer day, drinking a slurpee and checking out the girls. No sir. Try this instead. Listen to Abigail and Abigail II back-to-back. No interruptions. Around midnight. Alone. Have several glasses of (blood) red wine or brandy in your system. Headphones. No lights… or maybe candles or the fireplace. Loud. That is what King Diamond is all about. Metal at it’s very finest. Enjoy.