King Diamond

The Puppet Master

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Kim Bendix Petersen, better known as King Diamond, has built an empire out of wailing spirits, singing spiders, and voodoo priestesses. His 11th full-length ghost story, The Puppet Master, centers around an unfortunate man, his girlfriend, and a husband and wife team of puppet masters as they abuse and torture their subjects somewhere in Budapest. Diamond wisely forgoes his usual cheeseball spoken-word intro and simply launches into "Midnight," a melodic dirge that ranks high amongst his huge -- and often inconsistent -- body of work. The brutal "Emerencia" features stellar guitar work from Andy LaRocque -- the thread that binds each and every King Diamond album -- and "The Ritual" aptly deals with the popular heavy metal theme of souls burning in Hell -- lyrical prowess has never been his forte. The remainder of the record is serviceable goth-metal filled with oaths and omens, blood and sacrifice, and one ill-conceived Christmas song. King Diamond has reached a stage in his career where evil has begun to fade into novelty, and The Puppet Master resonates with a dark giddiness that suits a man with face paint and a cape nearing his fifties. However, there's still a sinister aura that surrounds his very name, making it virtually unfathomable to picture him -- and all of his demons -- teeing off with fellow urchin -- and avid golfer -- Alice Cooper on a misty fall morning, heads bowed, asking the dark lord to grant them the power to eagle a par four. Maybe.

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