Released: 2012, Ván Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then King Diamond must have flattery coming out of his orifices at the behest of Germany’s Attic. Their debut full length, THE INVOCATION, goes out of its way to sound like a Mercyful Fate/KD cover band, but one that only performs material through ABIGAIL. Which, given the complexity of the source material is not a task to be undertaken lightly. But Attic unabashedly gives it everything they’ve got to fly the King’s flag high and proudly. Traditional metal licks wrapped in gothic overtones? Check. Occult imagery in the cover art and song titles? Check. Wailing falsetto vocals interspersed with spooky grumbly voices? Check and double check. Listening to THE INVOCATION with the mind of a researcher, it’s actually pretty impressive how closely Attic has recreated the vibe and tone of the King’s discography circa ‘83-‘87. Unfortunately, what THE INVOCATION achieves in style, it lacks in substance.
Save for a couple of instrumental tracks, THE INVOCATION is a collection short stories lathered in horrific themes and gothic imagery. And when everything comes together, it’s pretty damned impressive. “Funeral in the Woods”, “Join the Coven” and the title track are the best of the lot, each of which are paced well and offer the most balance in the musical arrangements. At times these songs in particular really sound like they could’ve been outtakes from the MELISSA or FATAL PORTRAIT sessions. But there lies the biggest problem with the INVOCATION – it’s got no identity of its own. As each track progressed, I found myself thinking “wow, this sounds like the intro to “The Oath”, or that sounds like the outro to “Shrine”, and on and on and on. I was constantly reminded that each song was a close but no cigar comparison to the King Diamond recordings that I love so dearly, and that the King’s versions were executed with exponentially greater skill.
Meister Cagliostro’s vocals are the closest I’ve heard anyone come to nailing the King’s style of falsettos without sounding intentionally exaggerated, but it’s so constant and in your face that it can quickly shift captivating to monotonous. Tracks like “Edlyn” and “Evil Inheritance” show the Meister taking his lower register for a walk and providing some welcomed diversity, but these moments are few and far between. And while guitarists Katte and Rob create a solid musical backdrop for album, it’s clear that neither one of them is an Andy LaRocque. Amidst the waves of organs and spooky atmospherics, you expect to hear somebody rip into a neoclassical Malmsteen styled wank that makes your neck hair stand up, but instead, you’re left with some standard level gallops and harmonies that feel comparatively flat.
To boot, most of the tracks on THE INVOCATION are 5 to 6 minutes long and tend to outstay their welcome. As much as I enjoyed the chorus to “Funeral in the Woods”, by the time it’d be repeated for the zillionth time at the at 4 minute mark of the track, I was frustrated and ready to skip ahead.
Attic gets an “E” for effort with THE INVOCATION. Thematically it’s an impressive release that I wish the band would’ve put more of themselves into. But no matter how many bands Attic lists as influences on their Facebook page, this is a tribute to King Diamond. If you can accept that as it is, it’s not a bad listen. If you’re looking for something that won’t leave you hungry again in 30 minutes, you’d be better off just giving FATAL PORTRAIT one more spin.