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King Diamond - Songs for the Dead Live

Label: Metal Blade
Format: DVD
Released: 2019
Reviewed By: Rich Catino
Rating: 8/10

Finally after 30 plus years of making music with both Mercyful Fate, and the King Diamond band, King releases his first official professionally shot concert. Just in time for the celebration of the concept album “Abigail”, there are two shows - one from 2016 at the Graspop Metal Meeting festival in Belgium, and The Fillmore in Philadelphia, PA in 2015. From the opening intro ‘Out from the Asylum’ into ‘Welcome Home’ as grandma is wheeled out at Graspop, the wide shots at such a massive open air concert makes for nothing short of a visual monster. From the closeups of King interacting with the old bitch, the stage set, gargoyles, backdrops, lighting, and sweeping shots of the crowd, it’s the only way to see the master of theatrical horror metal. In this digital age the video quality is so sharp and clean it’s like being on the stage. Incredible. And the sound mix is equally perfect, balanced between the crunchy riffs, long time guitarist Andy LaRocque, and Mike Wead’s leads, acoustic parts. King’s vocals (with the female harmonies) are the best he has ever sounded effortlessly hitting those falsettos, separation between bass and drums.


The first act includes three songs from the “Them/Conspiracy” story, plus the holiday hymn ‘Halloween’, a song from “The Eye” album –‘Eye of the Witch’ (love the cool blue lighting), to Mercyful Fate classics ‘Melissa’ and ‘Come to the Sabbath’. Just from the first quarter of the show, even before “Abigail” is performed, you are reminded how important both bands contributions are to metal’s history. During the Abigail segment a female actress is on stage reenacting, interpreting, the lyrics to the haunting story. The demon baby is brought on stage in a coffin for ‘Arrival’ as King recites the plot, pregnant mother giving birth during the title track and ‘Black Horsemen’ closing out the tale in tragedy. The PA show in a theater includes some of the pre-show setup and fans but is unfortunately an inferior taping. The lighting is darker, incorporates too many flashing whites which washes out contrast so the fine details in the stage set get lost, and some of the editing is too fast. I wish instead they included bonus clips of ‘At The Graves’, ‘Cremation’, ‘Dreams’, and ‘Voodoo’ which were played during other tours. I’d love to see another taping done for the albums “Them/Conspiracy” story, with a second act of select songs from the albums “Spider’s Lullaby”, “Graveyard”, “Voodoo”, and “House of God”.

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