“The Spider’s Lullabye” is my very first exposure to “the King” and his work with any ensemble, and I was impressed right off the bat. “The Spider’s Lullabye” surprised me with it’s melodic accessibility, as well as the unmistakable voice of KING DIAMOND (as mentioned, this was my very first exposure, and his vocal style is quite novel, and likely something that I’ll be coming back to often). I initially found the musicianship phenomenal, while thinking that the vocals were silly and somewhat amateur. After a couple of listens to this and other KING DIAMOND albums, however, I’ve come to understand the really important element of this rather unique metal outfit, which I’m sure most readers are already aware of: while not a particularly adept singer, KING DIAMOND weaves some seriously eerie horror tales and goes to great lengths to achieve a terrific atmosphere in his music. This realization made it much easier to accept the variety of falsetto-shrieking, deep throaty chanting, and rough edged singing/speaking that King spews out over all of his albums.
“The Spider's Lullabye” doesn't involve quite as much vocal schizophrenia, but instead goes overboard instrumentally. Musically, this album is superb, and blends Heavy Metal with many horror/suspense elements near flawlessly. I'm not familiar at all with the guitar work of Andy LaRoque, but I'd compare a fair number of guitar riffs and solos here with those I've heard from Power Metal, and they perhaps even stray into the territory of neo-classicism. The riffing on “Eastmann's Cure” is awesome, and the work on “To The Morgue” and “From The Other Side” is also outstanding. Because of this, I have difficulty choosing my favorite song on this album. “The Poltergeist” is also worth mentioning. It's usually hailed as the best song on the album, and for good reason. While lacking some of the drive found on the other tracks on the album “The Poltergeist” is brimming with atmosphere, including stellar organ lines that fuel the dark and malevolent mood that dominates this song.
Despite my general personal distaste for metal that borders on the satanic and occult (and this album doesn't dabble in either of these much), “The Spider's Lullabye” was thoroughly enjoyable for me, and I'll keep it in my collection without hesitation. This album provides a creepy, head banging, and enjoyable ride straight from start to finish. I might tentatively label the title track as the weakest on the album, but it's only a short stoop from the quality that is otherwise consistent. I don't know the rest of KING DIAMOND'S catalogue at this point, but as an outsider to his music, I found “The Spider's Lullabye” very accessible.
I'm looking forward to reviewing several other KING DIAMOND albums soon, after this one. Here's hoping they're just as good of an experience!
(Online June 14, 2010)