“The Graveyard” is the second KING DIAMOND album of four that I've undertaken to review. I will mention again that these four albums are my first exposure to the King and his work. I was very excited after listening to and reviewing “The Spider's Lullabye”, and couldn't wait to dive into “The Graveyard”, hoping to find the same creepy atmosphere and great music.
To cut to the chase, I was disappointed. Not with great immediacy, but as the album developed. This was due in part for my dislike for the story on this album, which is a little more graphic and unnerving than the last. King does a great deal of atmosphere-building on this album, but I think it comes on too strong, certainly for me. The psychopathic story winds around, with a twist at the end, which I understand is typical for KING DIAMOND'S story concept albums, but there's a number of things that make it less enjoyable than the others that I've heard.
There's a lot of redundancy on this record in general, like “Up From The Grave”, “Daddy”, and various other lines (including the maniacally repeated “die, die, die, die, etc. at the end of “I Am”, which actually becomes irritating). Some might think this beneficial or “in character” for the album, but it makes some of the songs boring. This isn't helped by the fact that other than the first two songs, this album is instrumentally unremarkable, and even “The Graveyard” and “Black Hill Sanitarium” pale in comparison to a lot of the work on “Spider's Lullabye”.
There's also one song here, “Sleep Tight Little Baby”, that I think is quite poor. It's a creepy, insane lullaby to the mayor's daughter as King buries her alive. All the while, he speaks to himself about the father's approach, and eventually welcomes the mayor to the graveyard. The chorus on this song really hits a nerve with King's falsetto (and by this point I'm fairly used to his singing style), and seems to drag the story along. By the time I finally reached the climax, I was tired of wading through what felt like filler, however theatrical.
The overarching feel of madness throughout the album is established...respectably. There just seems to be something really missing from “The Graveyard”. I think I could best describe it as a strong (not necessarily good) story put forth with less emphasis upon the musicianship. Inevitably, in metal, if this is the case, you wind up with a mediocre album, no matter how good the story or atmosphere. I'm sure that fans of KING DIAMOND'S work will enjoy the album a fair amount, at least in concept and story. It's just not as well executed (no pun intended) as other albums.
(Online June 15, 2010)