The Spider’s Lullabye (Deluxe Version)
Metal Blade Records
Release date: November 27, 2015
The world of heavy metal is full of larger than life personalities, and few cast a shadow over metal like King Diamond. The former Mercyful Fate frontman was at the forefront of the creation of death metal. His solo career, beginning in 1986 with the release of Fatal Portrait, has spawned a series of horror themed metal albums that have set the standards of musicianship and showmanship for the entire metal community. His live show is legendary, as is his vocal range, which begins at a throaty growl and climbs to a piercing falsetto. The Spider’s Lullabye, originally released in 1995, was a shift for King Diamond as it was the first album released on Metal Blade Records, and contained a new band, with the exception of Diamond and his long time lead guitarist Andy LaRocque. Metal Blade is ready to grace the metal community with a deluxe version of King Diamond’s sixth release, remastered by LaRocque and including four bonus tracks.
The Spider’s Lullabye was the first King Diamond album since Fatal Portrait to not be a concept album comprised of a single story. Instead, the listener is offered five songs that each contains their own terrifying tale, one alternate ending to the storyline that comprised the Them and Conspiracy albums (“Six Feet Under"), and finally four related songs that give the album its title. “From The Other Side” opens The Spider’s Lullabye with a huge sound, bringing into focus the production shift that came with the transition to Metal Blade. The track relates the plight of a narrator who is afraid he may not be able to return from an out of body experience. The guitar-heavy attack, a trademark since the band’s initial release, is augmented by an organ, providing a creepy overtone to the menacing metal. “The Poltergeist” uses organ to fill out its sound as well, telling of a ghost hunter who finds an entity in his home, and eventually embrace it as a welcome guest. Some form of keyboard is used on nearly every track, creating an ambience that will haunt listeners’ nightmares.
The title track begins a sequence about a man who seeks a medical cure to his crippling fear of spiders. Opening with a spinet, the song moves to a plodding Black Sabbath inspired riff, before moving into a threatening quasi-circus music vein. “Eastmann’s Cure” introduces the potential cure to his malady, and alternately brings to mind Iron Maiden and Uriah Heep, among others. This constant shifting keeps every song interesting. “Room 17” documents the cure processes with constant changes in tempo and feel that drive the emotion of the song. “The Morgue,” the end of the album proper and final song before bonus tracks, offers a doom laced take on power metal with some odd time signatures. Diamond’s unique vocal approach is used to create unsettling harmonies. The deluxe version closes with demo versions of “Moonlight,” “From the Other Side,” “The Spider’s Lullabye,” and “Dreams” performed entirely by the iconic frontman, with the exception of lead guitar, provided by LaRocque.
The Spider’s Lullabye was an important step in the evolution of King Diamond. While the production values increased with the band’s move from Roadrunner Records to Metal Blade, LaRocque’s remastering efforts have expanded the sound even further. In a side by side comparison one can hear that the drums have a tighter sound, and the bass drum, in particular, has an aggressive thump beyond the original mix. All instruments seem to have gained their own sonic space. The bonus tracks, while not release quality, are more than listenable, and give an interesting view into the vision King Diamond had for these songs before turning them over to his band. Many thanks to Metal Blade for giving this album the deluxe treatment, and giving fans a truly spectacular version of this gem.
Reviewed by Jim 1340