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Flashback album review King Diamond’s House of God
On this day in metal history, King Diamond unleashed one of his most ambitious and most immersive albums to date: “House of God”.
“House of God” was the 9th studio album from King Diamond and was released at a time when metal needed an infusion, as several of the titans of metal were either on hiatus or in the midst of a touring cycle and some cases in need of group therapy.
In Honor of the release of “House of God” here are a few things you probably didn’t know about the making of the record.
The “House of God” storyline saw Diamond develop a deep narrative that blended a physical location with fictional elements. The story takes place in a church in southern France (Rennes-le-Château), that has an inscription across the door saying “this place is terrible” (also a title of a track on the record).
As you enter the church you’re greeted by a figure of a devil. Can you think of a more fitting location for a King Diamond story?
Thousands of tourists visit the church each year, and experts suggest the number would be far greater but many fear that the church is home to an actual devil, which depending on your view of the world could be seen as a negative.
The visitors that make the pilgrimage to France, do so to investigate the many conspiracy theories that plague the site. One of the main theories is that Jesus had spent time there following his “death”. Needless to say, the place is steeped in history.
The story of the record itself is large in breadth and depth, but the main element is that different religions and beliefs have had some serious repercussions on some populations.
Artist Thomas Holm designed the cover for “House of God” and marked the first time since “The Eye” that Holm had collaborated with Diamond for one of his solo project covers. The initial concept for the album artwork was a simple design, a black-covered book with an embossed cross. The book resembled a bible but in reality, was a special edition of the Necronomicon. Diamond had been gifted the book by a German fan several years prior.
During the recording of Mercyful Fate’s “9” record (which Holm also designed the cover for), Holm presented a rough drawing for a concept of the eventual “House of God” cover to Fate’s guitarist Hank Shermann, with a suggestion the band keep the artwork for a future “Mercyful Fate” record, but Diamond felt the drawing captured the essence and mood of his record and elected to use it as the visual focal point of the release.
“House of God” marked the only collaboration to date between Diamond, guitarist Glen Drover (Megadeth, Eidolon, Testament, Geoff Tate) and Bassist Paul David Harbour.
Drover complemented the solid guitar work of Andy Laraque and provided a magnificent one-two punch, for that reason alone you should give the album a visit.
Harbour was invited by Drummer John Luke Hebert to play bass on the record, as the pair had an established relationship from their days in the band “Chastain”.
“House of God’ would be Hebert’s second and final record with Diamond, after being active with the band from 1997 to 2000 and playing on Diamond’s 1998 release “Voodo”.
As the writing and recording of “House of God” progressed, Diamond and Co. delved into some new territory. Diamond felt pressured to deliver an easily digestible record without compromising his vision for the final product.
The album featured some of the most complex arrangements to date, including broad orchestration, choral elements, melody laden vocal arrangements and saw Diamond rely more on his falsetto voice, as he did on some of his earlier releases.
The track “Help!!” places the complexity of the writing on full display. As a side note the track “Follow the Wolf” was inspired by the wolf that Diamond owned.
Diamond purchased a wolf pup (eight months old) and named it Angel. When the sheer size of the animal became a hindrance, Diamond rehomed Angel to a woman, and in the song, the wolf transforms into a woman named Angel, completing a beautiful story arc.
It’s comforting to know that even King Diamond has a soft spot!