Give Me Your Soul...Please
posted on 6/2007 By:
Find me another artist who polarizes metal fans more than King Diamond, and I’ll eat my damned hat. And while you’re at it, if you can deliver more than a handful of people (excluding folks from Europe or South America) who’ve seen the light of metal based solely on King’s recent releases, I’ll eat his top hat as my dessert. That’s honestly not intended to be an insult, it’s just me coming to grips with two important realizations: 1.) King’s brand of melodic horror-metal ain’t exactly hip by today’s standards, and 2.) The majority of new metal fans seem to be coming into the fold through the Becoming A Despised Cowboy and Neur-Isis styled bands currently running amuck. Conclusion? When it comes to a new K.D. record, cynics will remain cynics, many n00bs will drift past apathetically, and devotee’s such as myself will assuredly find just enough meat on the bone to sate our hunger and keep us as vigilant, loyal members of The Coven’s Indoctrinated. That being said, welcome to King Diamond’s twelfth (!!!) full-length solo album: the politely titled, Give Me Your Soul…Please.
As is the case with a lot of King’s material, it takes a bit of time to shift gears into his long-spun formula of ghostly heavy metal, and truthfully this album no different. My initial spins immediately uncovered some subtle foibles, but I also instantly picked up on what surely stands as this album’s two strongest selling points - the chorus’ and solos. These two elements really drove the nail home for me, and over the course of listening to this beast nearly non-stop this past week, GMYSP has definitely awakened that old, familiar appetite to rip through the rest of this man’s catalog. After all, there’s really no other artist even close to King’s ballpark, so once this record sets its roots in you -- and believe me, it’s gonna set roots -- you’ll be off to devour more of your favorite King Diamond albums as well.
On to the good news: As I mentioned above, nearly ¾’s of the songs represented here feature the sort of refrains that’ll leave you humming for days, and while it seems true that King uses less of his highest of high falsettos with each subsequent release, his delivery still covers an extremely wide range, resulting in a wonderfully smooth conveyance of a wide gamut of emotions throughout the unfolding storyline. As an added sidenote, if King continues to inch back the use of said shrill notes on future releases, I certainly wouldn't mind him leaning even heavier on the smooth, deep Mercyful Fate-esque vocals spotlighted during the chorus of this record's excellent title track - absolutely fantastic. And adding the melodic icing to this cake once again is one of the genre's hardest working duo's: Andy LaRoque and Mike Wead, who've truly outdone themselves on GMYSP. This record is utterly brimming with luminous, Diamond-y, rippin’ solos, even the songs I found to be relatively humdrum. Killing songs this time around include, “Is Anybody Here?”, “Mirror, Mirror” (featuring one of the catchiest bridge riffs I’ve heard in some time), “The Cellar”, “Give Me Your Soul” and the excellent, “The Floating Head”.
It ain’t all roses and kittens, however. Much like the rest of King’s post-Conspiracy work, there are flat-points to be found, especially in terms of the album’s production. The snare, rolls, and cymbals often lack the snap and razzle-dazzle we heard from drummers in the past, and some tunes suffer from some rather colorless, drab riffs now and again as well. Case in point, the 20-second mark of the otherwise outstanding “Mirror, Mirror”. And finally, tunes such as “The Mad Arab”-flavored “Black of Night” and the down-right odd “Cold as Ice” come across more like simple filler used only to advance King’s story line, and really don’t have much else for the listener to grab onto.
In the end, Give Me Your Soul…Please stands as yet another example of King delivering the goods to his loyal fans. No, it won’t win the band scores of new fans, and it doesn’t really push the envelope of his ingrained formula, but when you’re truly the only player in the game, does it really need to? As far as I’m concerned, King and crew are quite adept at putting together a highly enjoyable, melodic heavy metal record that’s infused with an interesting, Vincent Price-tinged horror story, and that’s really the bottom line here as well. This is another worthy venture from the Diamond camp, and in terms of the band’s post-Conspiracy works, I’d say it ranks as follows (and actually seems to be slowly making its way up):
1. The Eye (favorite)
2. Abigail II
4. The House of God
5. Give Me Your Soul…Please
6. The Graveyard
7. The Puppet Master
8. The Spider’s Lullaby (least favorite - simply because of the 2nd half)
posted on 6/2007 By:
The undisputed King of all that is dark, blasphemous and in dire need of some serious shrieking is back to haunt your soul with nearly 54 minutes of theatrical heavy metal and...I am sharting in surprise.
Musically, this album is as good as any since The Graveyard. LaRocque and Wead have had seven years to gel as a guitar duo and the years together finally show on Give Me Your Soul...Please. While single "Never Ending Hill" was generally met with unanimous praise when released early as a preview stream, it was only a hint at the overall strength of the band's third post-millennium release. You won't immediately hear this, but the album is rife with subtle but catchy instrumental gems like the classy solos on "The Floating Head" or the pounding rhythm of "Black of Night." The amount of detail in this sucker is astounding and almost overwhelming, which can easily lead to confusion for impatient listeners. I am not telling you to light the incense and close your eyes, but give this some time to sink in. You'll soon have a hard time deciding which song is your favorite, because they all have that indescribable hook factor. If the King gave these guys a swift kick in the ass before recording I wouldn't be surprised because things have definitely evolved since The Puppet Master. Songs sound less orchestrated, less forced. The riffs are punchier, more vibrant. Most important of all, these songs are distinguishable and memorable. Off the top of my head, "Cold as Ice", the title track and "The Girl in the Bloody Dress" are the catchiest and take the least amount of time to digest.
The biggest obstacle for me was actually King Diamond himself, who seems to be suffering a bit from vocal wear and tear. Considering he's been going at this solo thing for over 21 years, it's bound to happen, but when you're literally reaching to the depths of hell decade after decade the effect is that more devastating. To my ears, this is the first time I've heard songs seem to revolve less around King Diamond and more around the supporting cast. Sadly, his vocals just don't have that blood-curdling pitch from which women, children and lesser men run in fright. Even so, you must at the very least recognize the genuine article. This is King Diamond, after all, and you will never find a decent imitation. The King running on 70% is still capable of commanding attention and pulling a song ("Shapes of Black") or two ("Give Me Your Soul").
You have to be completely mindless to expect a Fatal Portrait. This is King Diamond circa 2007 and LaRocque and Wead are not LaRocque and Denner, no matter which way you slice it. Honestly, at this point, you shouldn't care, because King Diamond will ALWAYS mean something as a name and brand. Given the instrumental quality of this very recording, the King himself obviously recognizes this fact. Sure, in the grand scheme of things Give Me Your Soul...Please will not be ushered to Valhalla by the valkyries, but it should easily rank as one of the King's stronger post-'90 efforts.
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