Released: 2003, Metal Blade
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
All hail the King for He has returned! Last year’s dismal ABIGAIL II: THE REVENGE gave further proof that sequels always suck but King Diamond is back with his best album in years, THE PUPPET MASTER. Long-time guitarist Andy LaRocque is back again celebrating 17 years with King’s band. As always, King has constructed an amazing concept album based around his own horrific story. This time, King’s macabre imagination brings the story of a young man and his girlfriend who witness a strange puppet show in 18th Century Budapest only to have their lives changed forever.
“Midnight” is a great intro that sets the mood for the entire album as the main character reflects back on the horrors he has witnessed in the Puppet Master’s workshop. The title track follows and gets the ball rolling as we first witness the eerily lifelike puppets. This song has a very catchy chorus and great riff and solo from Andy LaRocque. “Magic” is another standout track with an excellent opening riff. “Emerencia” is the best track on the album with its three solos, wretched finale and display of King’s still impressive vocal range. “Blue Eyes” has a creepy church organ intro that will send chills down your spine. “The Ritual” reminds me of early King tracks like “The Candle” and “The Jonah” from 1986’s FATAL PORTRAIT album. “No More Me” is a slower song and the most lyrically graphic on the album as our poor victim has his eyelids cut off, eyeballs pulled out with fingers and cut off with scissors before the puppet master’s wife begins “stripping skin from all my bones… and throws my carcass in the trash”. “Blood To Walk” and “Darkness” feature catchy choruses, as well. “So Sad (Ghost’s Song)” is an interesting duet between King and his girlfriend as the lost lovers facing separation. It’s a ballad and a bit cheesy but suits the story well. The final two tracks are the weakest on the CD. “Christmas” features an excerpt of the holiday classic, “The Little Drummer Boy”, but it doesn’t have a catchy hook to it and King’s vocal performance is a bit off from the rest of the songs. “Living Dead” kind of plods along but the final two minutes feature an acoustic guitar part by LaRocque that brings the song some life.
The German import features a bonus DVD of King telling the story of The Puppet Master in full makeup. **BEWARE: this DVD is “region-free”, meaning it will not work in most North American DVD players. I managed to get it to play in my computer’s DVD-ROM drive but the other two players in the house just flashed “ERROR” when I tried playing it.
King Diamond has been telling his fans that THE PUPPET MASTER would be the best story of his career and he wasn’t far off. It is right up there with his masterpieces, THEM and ABIGAIL
KILLER KUTS: “Midnight,” “Magic,” “Emerencia,” “Blood To Walk”