So, I’m reading through the materials for King Diamond’s Songs for the Dead Live (Metal Blade Records), getting ready to write a review. Then my brain starts churning… Philadelphia… 2015… Fillmore… Wait a tick! I was AT that show! **lesigh** The downside to getting old. That problem, however, has not plagued King Diamond and Merciful Fate. Songs for the Dead Live is a robust album. Songs for the Dead has two live shows; the Philadelphia one at the Fillmore and Graspop Metal Meeting 2016. Both setlists are identical. There is also an accompanying DVD. The live shows capture King Diamond with his bandmates, guitarists Andy LaRocque and Mike Wead, bassist Pontus Egberg and drummer Matt Thompson.
First, I must say King Diamond’s voice is still stellar. He speaks with a normal timbre; however, the ultra-high falsetto of his singing is what most people remember. It’s not an easy way to sing for thirty plus years. But his vocals show no signs of wear nor tear. ‘Eye of the Witch’ and ‘Melissa” are perfect examples. He’s crystal clear on those high notes and dripping molasses steeped wickedness on the regular notes. The band is on point. It’s impossible not to listen to ‘Eye of the Witch’ and sit still. King Diamond and Merciful Fate have that wonderful blend of groove laden doom goth metal. They know what a pocket is and they constantly stay in it. The guitar solos are very metal. They inspire the air guitarist in us all.
The setlists for Songs of the Dead Live are amazing. It’s a great retrospective of the career of King Diamond and Merciful Fate. Favourites ‘Abigail’, ‘Funeral’, and ‘Them’ are showcased. For those of you who are into DVDs you’ll notice a marked difference in the feel of each show. I’ve also attended Graspop. The two venues are light years apart. Where Graspop is a huge outdoor festival in the middle of nowhere, The Fillmore is a swank intimate venue in Philly. Where Graspop is populated with crazy drunk fans of everything, The Fillmore is full of crazy drunk Philly peeps who are singularly there for King Diamond and Merciful Fate. Graspop has a lot of uncontained energy while The Fillmore has a contained excited buzz. There is a lot of bang for your buck with this release. The only down side is on the CDs where there is that gap between songs, it doesn’t flow seamlessly. Other than that, it’s a great way to while a way a couple of hours listening to an icon in the music industry ply his trade.