King Diamond – Songs for the Dead Live

King Diamond is a legend in metal, that is all there is to it. Since first hearing Mercyful Fate in ’83, King Diamond has been my all time favorite band, artist, and person in metal. I was the authority on King Diamond among my metal friends of the day. I read every interview I could. I always remembered how bad he wanted to do a full stage production. I’m also the luckiest King Diamond fan on the planet; having the honor of being a guest in his home back in 1999. So when King began touring again after his return at Sweden Rock 2012 after recovering from his 2010 heart attack(s), he came back in an uncompromising way and it paid off big time. The stage was bigger. The production was huge and the venues were no longer the dingy clubs of the 80s. Instead he was playing halls, and packing them full!

In the fall of 2015 King set off on a tour playing Abigail in its entirety. It was during this tour that King began teasing of the idea of releasing a full production live DVD. King began working with director Denise Korycki who has directed videos by Cannibal Corpse and Killswitch Engage. The result was a multi-camera full on live concert production with the most incredible sound of any live recording I’ve ever heard. Two shows were recorded; November 25th, 2015 at The Fillmore in Philadelphia, PA and June 17th, 2016 at the Graspop Metal Meeting in Dessel, Belgium. And let me tell you King is timeless because his vocals are spot on! And the way he utilizes Livia’s backup vocals in the mix is just perfect. Every riff, every solo, every song played with precision and accuracy. These are incredible performances that are almost an hour and half long.

What better way to begin any King Diamond concert than with “Out From the Asylum”/”Welcome Home.” Long time stage performance actress Jodie Cachia is there in the wheelchair as she and King taunt each other onstage….”let me help you out of  the chair, g-g-grandma!!” The multiple angles of the cameras is cool, to include a camera in grandma’s wheelchair. For the first part of the show, the setlist does not go beyond The Eye. They play “Melissa” and “Come to the Sabbath” from the Mercyful Fate catalog perfectly. They leave the stage as “Them” is played only to return to the stage for the main event, Abigail, in it’s entirety.

From the first sounds of “Funeral” the anticipation mounts and then they burst into “Arrival” and you are immediately transported back to the first time you heard that masterpiece grace your ears. Mike Wead does a good job of keeping Michael Denner’s melodic solos intact, especially in the beginning of “Arrival.” There is not much banter from King during the Abigail performance, just pure metal so close to the original that you could swear they just released that material. It sounds so fresh and far from being thirty years old. King’s vocals are in top form. In fact, I’ve seen King Diamond probably eight times, to include the Abigail and THEM tours, and he is actually getting better. King is taking care of himself and it shows. The man was pushing 60 when these recordings were made and there is no stopping him. “Black Horseman” gives me the goosebumps just like the original sill does and King hits those notes like it was 1987 all over again. Of course this was the perfect song to end the show…”That’s the end of another lullaby. Time has come for me to say Goodnight.”

As of this writing, I am about to experience King Diamond in a few weeks as I have never seen him. Yes, I’ve been to a lot of King Diamond concerts but now his shows are events, full on productions as he has always wanted to do. If that Baltimore show is half as good as the production on this DVD, it will still be the best King Diamond show I’ve ever seen. There are a lot of metal concert DVDs out there and this is, hands down, the best one out there. This is essential!