Tuesday, February 12, 2002 @ 10:34 AM
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It’s no surprise that King Diamond would reprise/complete his twisted tale of Abigail Le Fay. What is surprising is that the demonic Dane would wait 15 years to do it. After all, he finished up a whole different story begun in 1988 with Them immediately thereafter with Conspiracy. Given that Abigail really launched Diamond’s career outside of Mercyful Fate and became his signature work - and, arguably, his finest album - a follow-up would have made sense a long time ago.
Yet that may well be the precise reason for the wait. Sequels are a recipe for disaster. Chances are, if there’s a number after the title, it’s crap. The inspiration and passion that produced the original almost always is watered down or abandoned altogether in the dash to milk the successful concept. Perhaps Diamond held Abigail dear enough to not want the story to become the metal version of “Friday The 13th,” an empty, wretched franchise.
If that’s the case, then his patience and care were smart moves. Abigail II - The Revenge is one sequel that isn’t crap. In fact, it’s one of the finer efforts in Diamond’s spotty history - remember The Eye or The Spider’s didn’t think so - and builds on the haunting majesty of part one instead of merely re-creating and repeating it while bringing the storyline to a most unhappy end.
Part soap opera, part Poe-like horror epic of scheming family members, illicit affairs, sinister secret societies, murder, ghosts and possession, the saga of Abigail Le Fay is way too involved to explain here. But as the title indicates, The Revenge is a story of payback for the transgressions of characters from the first chapter and involves more ghosts, hauntings, possession and a plate of literally killer food. It’s pretty damned creepy - especially with Diamond’s caterwauling vocal gymnastics - and in the end everyone gets what’s coming to them.
Despite the elaborate storyline, The Revenge is more stripped down musically than the original Abigail and really doesn’t have the feel of a concept album given that the usual segues and thematics are kept to a minimum - in this case really just the intro “Spare This Life” and outro “Sorry Dear” and some background keyboards you hardly even notice. This certainly owes something to timing. When Abigail was unleashed in the mid-80s, technical speed metal was in its element, with Metallica leading the charge. These days, the simpler the better and Metallica’s playing Bob Seger tunes.
With The Revenge, the songs are direct, crunchy and some of the most memorable Diamond has done. “The Storm,” “Miriam,” “The Crypt,” and “Little One” are powered by beefy hooks from Mike Wead and Andy LaRocque and the sturdy, driving tempos of Hal Patino and Matt Thompson. With more structure, less connective tissue and little wasted effort, Abigail II is viciously efficient by concept album standards. Yes, you will hear plenty of fancy - and, in most cases, impressive - soloing and an element of complexity in the shifting tempos, but nothing like on the bloated, sometimes masturbatory Them/Conspiracy series.
If Diamond’s trademark vocals - which divebomb from guttural growling to operatic falsetto and everywhere in between - drive you insane, then Abigail II provides no relief. He captures the whole cast of characters in his voice. And with men and women - old and young - flitting in and out, it’s like a one-man chorus from hell.
Regardless, Abigail II - The Revenge is an inspired effort that can stand quite proudly aside the original and will be well worth the wait for longtime fans who’ve been expecting it for all these years.