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Articles Home » 2003 Articles » King Diamond - 2003 The Puppet Master
King Diamond - 2003 The Puppet Master

ARTIST: King Diamond
ALBUM: The Puppet Master
LABEL: Metal Blade (USA), Massacre (Eur)
SERIAL: 3984-14445-2, MAS CD0400
YEAR: 2003


LINEUP: King Diamond - vocals, keyboards * Andy La Roque - guitars * Mike Wead - guitars * Hal Patino - bass *Matt Thompson - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Midnight * 02 Puppet Master, The * 03 Magic * 04 Emerencia * 05 Blue Eyes * 06 The Ritual * 07 No More Me * 08 Blood To Walk * 09 Darkness * 10 So Sad * 11 Christmas * 12 Living Dead


With Mercyful Fate seemingly on indefinite hold, King Diamond is devoting all his time to his solo career yet again and prolific as ever has followed up 2002's 'Abigail 2: The Revenge' in quick fashion. With Mercyful Fate guitarist Mike Wead on board there's a faint glimmer of Fate's sound, but without Hank Shermann's identifiable guitar tone, King Diamond has always taken on a vastly different approach than his most well known project, not quite as menacing, for all the dark subject matter. Like most King Diamond albums there's a concept running through 'The Puppet Master', this time the story revolving around a puppet master and his wife in eighteenth century Budapest who murder humans to create their puppets. Their victims in this story are the chief character, 'Unfortunate Man' and his girlfirend Victoria. It's a flimsy story at best, the music the chief attraction, although you have to give Diamond credit for trying something different.

The Songs
King Diamond has been so prolific over the years that it could be his undoing. If you've heard one King Diamond album it's safe to say you have heard them all. Listening to 'The Puppet Master' it could well be 1988s 'Them', with a heightened production budget and a new story line. Short intro 'Midnight' displays the King's usual vocal acrobatics, on the high end of course, accompanied by predictable keyboards and sinister riffs. It leads into the title track, heavy with a reasonable pace, but again the structure of which Diamond has done to death, mostly due to the tired vocal harmonies, which although a key component of Diamond's sound are overly repetitive. 'Magic' is similar to latter day Mercyful Fate, especially their last '9' effort from 1999, which proves the ever dwindling line between the two. If it wasnt for Shermann.... 'The Ritual' is the standout track with a mighty riff attack that feels like modern day Iron Maiden at the onset. It lapses into familiarity but with some semblance of metallic crunch that is missing on the whole. 'Blood To Work' is redeemed by some vicious soloing from the guitar tandem after a tedious chorus, something 'Darkness' fails to overcome, standard Euro metal that is as bland as much of the current power metal scene in Europe. By this late point in the album we're supposed to feel sickened by the main characters having been turned into human puppets by the master, but the music drags so interminably it's hard to decipher which is supposed to scare the listener more.

In Summary
In many ways this could be classified as a piece of classic traditional metal. There's nothing within that puts it on a level with anything current, it's just standard King Diamond material in the same vein as when he began his solo foray in 1986 with 'Fatal Portrait'. That's the most damning thing about 'The Puppet Master'. The King's has no new musical territory to explore, even if he does his best to conjure a new theme for each album. Hardcore King Diamond fans will be ecstatic perhaps, but for most this can easily be avoided. Maybe King needs to wait a few years until the next one.

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