Having been a huge fan of MERCYFUL FATE/KING DIAMOND's recorded output from the earliest days of the two bands' respective careers, I am more than a little perplexed by the path mainman King Diamond has chosen to follow during most of the '90s and going into the 21st century. Whereas MERCYFUL FATE and KING DIAMOND's initial offerings were fresh and unconventional-sounding in a way that made JUDAS PRIEST and IRON MAIDEN seem tame by comparison, the groups' latter-day efforts had become by and large nothing more than virtual parodies of themselves, the interchangeable nature of each of the bands' successive releases slowly taking what was once a unique and incredibly effective formula and burying it in a cess-pool of indistinguishable songs and riffs that had been covered countless times before on any of the two groups' prior releases. KING DIAMOND, the more “theatrical”-sounding and less guitar-heavy of the two bands, has especially suffered from the above-mentioned syndrome, with the bulk of the group's post-1990 albums coming across as contrived and devoid of anything resembling a fresh idea. Simply put, if you'd heard any one of the last three KING DIAMOND CDs, you'd heard them all.By virtue of its lyrical connection to KING DIAMOND's classic 1987 Abigail effort, Abigail II: The Revenge had promised to be a return-of-sorts to the group's more inspired-sounding musical moments. However, those hopes get quickly shattered as soon as the opening sounds of “The Storm” kick in, with a cheesy thunder-and-lightning intro leading into a song that, quite literally, could have fit comfortably on any one of KING DIAMOND's last four studio CDs. What follows is a collection of riffs and vocal melodies that consistently brings to mind the group's previous songwriting efforts without ever managing to add a different dimension to a tried-and-tested formula, ultimately coming across as a workmanlike attempt at recapturing past glories while lacking the courage to break the mold even for a brief moment. Like other artists that refuse to deviate from their original musical path (i.e. MOTORHEAD, SLAYER), KING DIAMOND is a band that continues to sell albums to a loyal but modestly-sized audience (with most of the act's recent efforts failing to break 30,000 copies sold, according to Soundscan) that spends more time wallowing in nostalgia than acknowledging what is clearly a lack of genuine musical inspiration. It's a shame, too, considering the promise that once was.
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