The music of Danish born vocalist King Diamond (real name Kim Petersen) is something of an acquired taste. For better or worse, I’m afraid I’ve acquired it. King first came to the attention of music fans as the front man for metal band Mercyful Fate in the early eighties. Mercyful Fate had a Satanic image, with King adopting face paint that included an upside down cross. At the time Diamond claimed to be a practicing Satanist, although nowadays he says he doesn’t follow any religion. Regardless of all this, Diamond’s lyrics were always more horror movie fun than anything, and once he went solo in 1986 that became even more the case.
Aside form the makeup, the thing that stands out about King Diamond the most is his voice. He frequently sings in a creepy falsetto, with occasional “normal” singing and deep guttural growls. His solo albums tend to be horror rock operas accompanied by fast, melodic heavy metal, and his live performances usually feature a theatrical stage show with lots of props. While never a huge mainstream success, there was a time in the late eighties when Diamond was very popular in the metal underground, and his music has influenced numerous other bands, including Metallica who did a medley of Mercyful Fate songs on their Garage Inc. album. King continues to record and perform to this day, and occasionally reunites with his old band Mercyful Fate as well.
Here’s an appropriate song from King Diamond’s first solo album: “Halloween”
This video for “The Family Ghost” from King’s second solo album actually got a fair amount of play on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball back in the day.
King joins Metallica onstage in August of 2008 to perform a medley of old Mercyful Fate songs.