Abigail II: The Revenge
Let’s leave any and all debate and theorizing about the inherent value of sequels, both cinematic and musical (or a hybrid of both — what is King Diamond if not Hammer Horror as visualized by Lord Byron?) aside for a moment. We should instead start on common ground; the supposition that King Diamond’s Abigail, with octave-defying choruses that can reduce even the most jaded metalhead to uncontrollable fits of flailing about and wails of “Don’t you even know what you’ve done!,” is a high watermark of his career. And if, in the midst of a still very fruitful musical odyssey, he wants to revisit unfinished conceptual business, more power to him. This is King Diamond we’re talking about, the closest metal will ever come to Elvis Presley in his full-on Vegas peacock finery. All karate kicks, kabuki paint, and pentagrams. King Diamond is the total package — a Faustian heart of darkness clad in the trappings of pure SHOWBIZ GLITZ! So that leaves us with two indelible truths: 1) The king is dead, long live the King; and 2) The Empire Strikes Back was a fucking good film, so yes, sequels can rock. So what if it doesn’t exactly scale the stygian peaks conquered by the first Abigail? The band certainly has a ghoulishly good time trying. The plot that the song cycle follows is fucking insane and oddly evocative, following the final struggle of Abigail as she returns to her ancestral home to confront the all-too-real ghosts of her past. The ending is a shocker. To be able to create a spine-tingler in the form of heavy metal lyrics is no mean feat. The music is, as well, incredible and multilayered. Diamond is still vocally all over the map, from a croaking sneer to that pure angelic falsetto, and Laroque and company bring the thunder or tasteful, barbed Euro power and thrash metal. It’s a near-symphonic experience. Who says we don’t need a monarchy anymore?