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King Diamond – Voodoo, House of God (re-mastered)

Label: Metal Blade
Format: CD
Released: 2009
Reviewed By: Rich Catino
Rating: Voodoo - 10/10, House of God – 7/10


While I enjoyed "The Spider’s Lullabye" and "The Graveyard" at the time of their release (1995,1996), since their re-mastering treatment I now have a new appreciation for their part in King Diamond’s catalogue. Both albums are important stepping stones towards King creating "Voodoo" and "House Of God" which are on par with "Abigail" and "Conspiracy" as consistent musical and lyrical, artistic bodies of work.

 
 

Voodoo


As "Voodoo" opens with ‘Louisiana Darkness’ and the organic sounds from the swamps (complete with crickets and bell tolls), through his narration King pulls the listener instantly into the setting and surrounding environment. “Voodoo” is a classic Wes Craven type thriller involving several characters; Doctor Le Croix the voodoo sorcerer, Madame Sarita, Jean LeNoir, Salem the servant, and the Lafayettes. With an imposing Hitchcockian old house, spells, spirits, Father Malone conducting an exorcism, treachery, secrets, murder, its all here. ‘LOA House’ like many previous King Diamond albums gets things moving with a fast aggressive arrangement. King’s choice in keyboard/organ/harpsichord tones is more than fitting for ‘Life After Death’ and for the title track (which features guitarist Dimebag Darrell from Pantera on a lead) those darn voodoo drums bring chills down the spine. ‘A Secret’ and ‘Salem’ progressively move at a steadfast pace for these “Them” like compositions. Perfect! ‘One Down Two To Go’ opens with King’s haunting vocal backed by ghostly acoustic guitars but watch out because it gets nasty quick.

 

The final half of the album plateaus in ‘Sending of Dead’ and ‘Sarah’s Night’, ‘The Exorcist’, climaxes with ‘Cross of Baron Samedi’ and closing outros ‘If They Only Knew’/‘Aftermath’ which perfectly bookend ‘Louisiana Darkness’.

All hail the King, and I don’t mean Elvis!

The re-mastering brings minimal changes, I hear a few more dings and pings in the drums, and maybe a little more space between the instruments. Not much different from the original mix which was fine. Aside from one live picture of King, the booklet and artwork is the same, love the map of the grounds around the mansion and the pictures of the cast on Tarot cards. There is also a website address where you can download a live performance of the song ‘Voodoo’.

 
 

House of God


More than likely given the lineup changes is why "House of God" is a transition album from the more aggressive edgier sounding "Spider’s Lullabye", "The Graveyard", and "Voodoo". Replacing guitarist Herb Simonsen is Glenn Drover (who is now known for once being a member of Megadeth), bassist Chris Estes with David Harbour, and John Herbert returns on drums. For 20 years now guitarist Andy La Rocque continues to be King’s right hand man.

"House of God" is a concept album loosely based on events in the Bible surrounding Jesus Christ’s death and his relationship with Mary Magdalene; Opening intro ‘‘Upon the Cross’; Upon the cross he did not die, they tortured him, but he survived. Smuggled across the open sea, to Southern France, tranquility. There he married Magdalene, and founded another dynasty.

 

"House of God" has a cleaner mix and brighter sound, established on the opening straight forward rocker ‘The Trees Have Eyes’. While doing absolutely nothing different than what’s been done before on an album, King (who is credited with solely writing seven out of thirteen songs) wrote/arranged tunes that are melodic yet very riff oriented with harmonizing guitar leads (examples; ‘Follow The Wolf’, ‘Black Devil’, ‘Just A Shadow’ and ‘Help’). With the progressive changes and melodic bridges in the title track, ‘The Pact’, and ‘Catacomb’, it appears Andy La Rocque’s writing contributions often adds those integral dynamics. Interludes ‘Goodbye’ and ‘Passage to Hell’ as always are an important part to King’s storytelling with “Passage’ the better of the two. And unlike any other King Diamond album, the aptly titled ‘Peace of Mind’ is a peaceful Andy La Rocque instrumental that brings the album to a close after the tragic ‘This Place Is Terrible’ which explains the cover art and why Jesus’ eyes are sewn shut.

To my ear "House Of God" is virtually unchanged by the re-mastering. The only addition to the original booklet is two live pictures of King and a website address where you can download a live performance of a song from the album.


 

Closing Thoughts

"Spider’s Lullabye" and "Graveyard" were in desperate need of re-mastering, "Voodoo" and "House of God" not so much but I’m glad they were done because it gives people a chance to rediscover and hopefully regard this period of King Diamond. "Voodoo" is my favorite, just so ferocious and creepy, and "House of God" I enjoy but not as much as the other three. Not sure why.

 
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