Retrospective: 25 Years Of King Diamond’s ‘Abigail’

By Riju Dasgupta [bassist & lyricist, Albatross]

Abigail was the best impulsive decision of my life. In 2006, I walked into a record store in Mumbai, back when they still existed, and decided to pick up a Blind Guardian album that my good friend Sahil Makhija (from Demonic Resurrection) had recommended. That particular album wasn’t in stock, and disappointed, I just decided to skim the shelves and walk out. Immediately what caught my attention was this album cover which showed two men riding a horse carriage into the night. Already a Mercyful Fate fan, I decided to give King Diamond’s sophomore solo record a try. Two hours later, my life had changed.If you were to draw a line demarcating my life into two distinct phases, I’d say the divisions could be titled the ‘Pre’ and ‘Post’ Abigail eras. Be it in terms of sheer musicality, atmosphere, art, concept or simply in the legacy it has left behind; I personally consider the album unparalleled. The very fact that today, on October 21st 2012, twenty five years since it was first written, I sit on my laptop writing about an album (from a time when there were no laptops), speaks volumes of the sheer impact the album has made on musicians worldwide. What is heartening is that King Diamond is still going strong after all these years, and the uncrowned King of the underground is finally making his mark at the level he deserves; with a headlining slot at Bloodstock Open Air 2013. But Abigail is much more than the sum of its parts; it is a legendary piece of art which transcends time, geographical boundaries, metal album lists consistently calling it the best thing since… well, the previous King Diamond album “Fatal Portrait”; as well the great impression King Diamond has made in the metal world since.

Abigail is a classic. Abigail is history. Abigail is a lesson in musicality. Abigail is the awesomeness that grunge could never ruin. But most importantly, Abigail is the spirit of an unborn child which haunts the crypt in the mansion that traditionally belonged to Count De La Fey. Where do I begin? What are the individual components which made Abigail so unique. Obviously, I do not know this answer, and so I asked King Diamond guitarist Andy LaRoque. This is what he had to say.

‘We caught a very magical atmosphere on that album, I still remember the session and the overall feel of that album, very special moment indeed ! And of course the material on the album combined with a great producer, just made it sound unique.’

From a very personal point of view, with some exceptions I’d always found lyrics a hindrance to great music, especially in metal. This is prior to me discovering Abigail. Of course, I’d heard concept albums before but never with the depth of detail of this particular album. I loved how, perhaps for the first time in the history of metal, music was written as the soundtrack to a great original story and not vice versa. I also loved how, I stayed hooked from one song to the other. Overnight, lyrics changed from something I took little or no interest in, to my primary sphere of interest. I say without reservation that my current band Albatross wouldn’t exist, if not for this earth shattering record.

I do hope that the classic lineup of King Diamond, Andy LaRocque, Michael Denner, Timi Holm and Mikkee Dee do a special show to commemorate this album. It’s midnight, and I’m going to crank up my speakers to 12 as I play the album on loop.

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