“Voodoo” is the last 90's release by KING DIAMOND, following possibly his strangest album, “The Graveyard" (call it King's worst, or call it under-appreciated, either could be correct). “Voodoo” is, it seems, a return to form for King and his band, as everything seems to tick on this record.
Right from the outset, “Voodoo” instills a disquieting chill as the listener is introduced to the plot of a southern Louisiana family and their dealings with a Voodoo graveyard and the malignant spirits that dwell within. I've heard a few stories like this before, and I'd say that KING DIAMOND hit the nail on the head for atmosphere, but that's something that I'm coming to expect from him. As the trouble brews throughout the album, the tracks become gradually more ghoulish and interesting, albeit with a fair amount of filler between them.
I have to dedicate a paragraph to the sheer feel of this album. Like the others I've heard, King goes over the top when creating a flavor for the music. Once again, it's absolutely brilliant (although the “Metal” aspect of the album suffers a bit as a result) from start to finish. Creepy keyboards send shivers up the spine, and King's gravelly voice on the intro and outro tracks add a forlorn touch (speaking as the butler, Salem). The shrieking voices, the voodoo drums, everything is phenomenal, and it makes for a very suspenseful and foreboding trip.
My favorite tracks here include “Salem” and “Voodoo”. The latter contains a great little guest-appearance solo from none other than Dimebag Darrell, and is also the best stand-alone track on the album. It also includes some very irregular and fascinating percussive work (hand drums of the sort that sound like they might be reminiscent of those used in a Voodoo ritual). There's a number of other good tracks on the album (“Cross Of Baron Samedi” comes to mind), but none that really stand out after a couple of listens. As mentioned earlier, there's a lot of filler space that is used to tell the story. When one listens through the album as a whole, this is a good thing. When shuffling or listening to independent songs however, it's a bit dull without the rest of the story to support it.
This brings me to my point about this album (and somewhat for King Diamond as a whole). While the work on this album is quite good, there's not much stand-alone value, and the album really has to be listened to in its entirety. “So what?” you might say. Well, I can say that “Spider's Lullabye” was not like this. Most every track on that album was solid enough to be heard apart from the album, though the album's story as a whole was perhaps not as piercing as “Voodoo”. It's not often that I have time to sit through an entire album either, which is why I feel that this is an important factor of the music.
If you listen through the album in one sitting, it's a great experience. Not one that I could listen to repeatedly, but good once in a while. Independently, the songs are not as strong as those featured on “The Spider's Lullabye”, but better than “The Graveyard”. Very highly recommended for those that enjoy moderate paced Heavy Metal and are willing to put up with some filler, or for anyone looking for a haunting ghost story.
(Online June 22, 2010)