Thumbs up: +11
There really is nobody else like King Diamond in the metal world, and in my observation there also isn't much of a grey area regarding enjoyment of his work. You either love him or you can't stand his voice. Myself, while I understand the criticism, I'm very firmly in that first camp, and aside from Maiden there really isn't any other individual or band that has released as many of my favorite records.

This list is a celebration of King's work and my humble attempt to rate it all from top to bottom. Let me just say I'm relaxing into that task because, honestly, any of the top half of this list are to my mind classics that could easily be shuffled around.

So without further ado, here we go and here it is. Hail to the King, baby.

Created by: The Galactican | 03.12.2011

1. King Diamond - Abigail
The second solo release from King Diamond is nothing short of groundbreaking, both for King as a songwriter and for metal as a genre of music. It's the first of his trademark horror concept albums, one that succeeds across story, song structure, performance, and recording. King's vocals are studio layered and multifaceted in ways he'd never attempted before, Mercyful Fate's Michael Denner and the incomparable Andy Laroque shine riff to riff and solo to solo, and Mikkey Dee (who would inexplicably move on to Dokken a short time later) provides beats that are both driving and intricate. Quiet moments, heavy moments, progressive moments, pretty moments, dark moments. All are beautifully orchestrated and all serve a deep theme where text completely matches tune. Simply put, this is a masterpiece of metal.
2. Mercyful Fate - Don't Break the Oath
While Melissa set the stage for legendary status, to my mind Don't Break The Oath is the more polished record. It's an album where we get to hear King drop the falsetto a lot more in favor of natural voice, where the riffs and solos pop, and where the production showcases both the band's songwriting and their heavier side. It is said by many that the early Mercyful Fate albums represent the seeds of black metal, and while you might not think it to listen now, Emperor's excellent cover of Gypsy (on 1994's In The Nightside Eclipse) makes me think that may not be too far off the mark. Bottom line, this is a landmark work and arguably Mercyful Fate's best.
3. King Diamond - Conspiracy
Possibly the most well produced of all the King Diamond records, this excellent sequel to Them is just a ridiculously great listen from start to finish. Andy Laroque in particular is on fire throughout, and Pete Blakk is no slouch either--the two pair up possibly better than any other collaborative duo in King solo work. Again, like all of King's best recordings the lyrics fit the songs wonderfully and set a clear mood. Amon belongs to Them!
4. Mercyful Fate - Melissa
I love Melissa on its own merits, but I love it even more when I contextualize it for 1983. 1983! The closest analogue I can think of for sound at that time is Judas Priest's Sad Wings of Destiny, a record I'm sure must have influenced the band (their cover of The Ripper is pretty solid proof). Groundbreaking barely scratches the surface when it comes to this classic.
5. King Diamond - Them
The third of King's solo albums is the record that turned me on to his work, and for that reason alone it would have a special place in my heart, but beyond that it also happens to have my favorite of his twisted stories. Grandma comes home from mental asylum, shares psychedelic blood tea with invisible friends, lets ghosts chop sister up to bits with axe, then ultimately suffers attack from mentally traumatized King (who presents himself as the central character). What the fuck is not to love here? Them is an absolute classic and a must have for any respectable King Diamond collection.
6. Mercyful Fate - Mercyful Fate
Satan has taken his sooooooooooooooooul! Mercyful Fate's debut is awesome and possibly one of the best metal EPs ever for any band. More raw certainly but that's a lot of the charm too.
7. King Diamond - Fatal Portrait
King's first recording as a solo artist. An excellent start, most especially for the introduction of dedicated long-time collaborator and overall guitar god Andy Laroque. While not as ambitious as its follow-up, Fatal Portrait still packs a punch with some fantastic songs and a nice dark feel throughout. It's a real indicator of the greatness that is to come.
8. Mercyful Fate - In The Shadows
In The Shadows is in my opinion one of the best "comeback" records in metal history. Recorded 8 years after Don't Break The Oath, this was, at least for me, a total surprise. It was such a surprise in fact that I didn't even know it was coming until I saw the video for Egypt on Headbanger's Ball. Ran right out and grabbed it and have been happily listening ever since. The whole band contributes on the excellent songwriting front, and Hank and Michael show they can still work the wicked twin axe attack with style and skill. Of the post-reunion material this is definitely the top.
9. King Diamond - The Eye
King shifts gears here with a classic tale of witchery and inquisition. I personally don't think the quality of this record quite matches the previous unbeatable three (Abigail, Them, Conspiracy), but this is still an awesome album in its own right, one that got even better with repeated listens. As with all of his best work, the story and the music really seem to mesh to give the right feel. And as always—this almost goes without saying—but the guitar solos are fucking outstanding. That's one thing you can pretty much count on with any King Diamond record.
10. King Diamond - The Puppet Master
Definitely my favorite of the later era King Diamond. The Puppet Master is a sick story with excellent songs, a blend of falcetto and real voice that tends to lean more to the latter, some great production, and the best guitar combination since the Them and Conspiracy days. An essential recording for any fan.
11. King Diamond - The Spider's Lullabye
When I bought this album on release my first impression was that it just wasn't very good. The concept approach was replaced by a few tunes around a theme, the rest stand alone songs, none of it jumping out at me. Many years later though I gave this record another chance and discovered that it was definitely worth a re-listen. Melodies and hooks in particular are great, with songs like From The Other Side and Poltergeist having some of the strongest choruses I've heard in any of King Diamond's work.
12. King Diamond - The Dark Sides
Not an essential recording, most especially since a couple of these tunes can be found elsewhere, but still a favorite of mine for the hokey but fun No Presents for Christmas. I respect that, in spite of all the dark themes, makeup, heavy riffs, and general metalness of it all, King's still got a good sense of humor.
13. Mercyful Fate - Time
The follow-up to In The Shadows doesn't quite reach the same quality from a songwriting perspective, but this is still a pretty darn good recording, and definitely in the top tier for their post-reunion material.
14. King Diamond - Voodoo
King takes on suitably creepy subject with fairly good results. I enjoy Voodoo for how heavy it is, and there are definitely some great tunes here, but it isn't the kind of masterpiece you'll find in the upper portions of this list. If you already have the classics then it's definitely worth an acquisition.
15. King Diamond - Give Me Your Soul... Please
Another solid release in the later King Diamond era, and one that shows he's still got a few tricks up his sleeve. Of particular note are more pronounced female vocals, performed by King's wife. This album and the predecessor The Puppet Master represent a great direction for King as a songwriter. Now that he's getting heart healthy ( best photo ever: it's my hope that he can continue the trend.
16. King Diamond - Abigail II: The Revenge
If you're expecting a spiritual successor from a songwriting perspective then you may be setting yourself up for a fall. It's brutally hard I think to write a perfect sequel to an utter classic. In spite of the challenge though, I think King did a fairly good job here--Abigail II is not required listening but it's a pretty fun ride even if none of the songs stand out as exceptional. I did mention the solos will never ever disappoint though, right? Yep, that.
17. King Diamond - House of God
A pretty solid piece of work that has grown on me over time. Some good songs here and a handful of great ones (in particular the title track). New King Diamond listeners should definitely start elsewhere, but you couldn't go too wrong overall with this record in a collection.
18. Mercyful Fate - Dead Again
The Mercyful Fate record I've heard the least as I only just recently got it. May move up or down a bit with repeatedly listens, but pretty comfortable sticking it here for now.
19. Mercyful Fate - 9
A pretty OK if kind of forgettable Mercyful Fate release. Nothing special in the songs or the performances but nothing bad either. When you've listened to the others to death then it's time to give this one a spin.
20. King Diamond - The Graveyard
I've never quite warmed up to the Graveyard. One or two good songs here, but in general for me this was a pretty big disappointment. I recognize though that many others enjoy this album, so maybe I should try one more time?
21. Mercyful Fate - Into The Unknown
I have made many attempts over the last few years to enjoy this record but it really has never grabbed me. The songs seem uninspired and flat. Can't remember a single one of them after repeated listens. Unless you're a hardcore fan I might skip this one entirely.

Disclaimer: All top lists are unofficial and do not represent the point of view of the MS Staff.
[ More lists by The Galactican ]


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M C Vice - 05.12.2011 at 09:45  
I'd put House of God and Voodoo higher. Have you heard the album that's a rehersal session with Black Rose?
Troy Killjoy - 05.12.2011 at 09:50  
I don't know if you're quoting Army of Darkness or Duke Nukem so for now I'll reserve my thumbs up.
The Galactican - 05.12.2011 at 20:09  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 05.12.2011 at 09:50

I don't know if you're quoting Army of Darkness or Duke Nukem so for now I'll reserve my thumbs up.

Ha! Army of Darkness on this one.
The Galactican - 05.12.2011 at 20:10  
Written by M C Vice on 05.12.2011 at 09:45

I'd put House of God and Voodoo higher. Have you heard the album that's a rehersal session with Black Rose?

Oo, no I have not. I'll need to pick that one up for sure. Thanks for the mention!
Troy Killjoy - 05.12.2011 at 20:15  
Written by The Galactican on 05.12.2011 at 20:09
Ha! Army of Darkness on this one.

Thumbs up it is then.
M C Vice - 06.12.2011 at 08:59  
Written by The Galactican on 05.12.2011 at 20:10

Written by M C Vice on 05.12.2011 at 09:45

I'd put House of God and Voodoo higher. Have you heard the album that's a rehersal session with Black Rose?

Oo, no I have not. I'll need to pick that one up for sure. Thanks for the mention!

If you find a copy, let me know if it's good, cause I can't find one.

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