January 29, 2011 by hhbrady
One of the first cassettes I ever owned; it contained the awesome solo work of guitarists Andy LaRocque and Michael Denner, and the drum magnificat of Mikkey Dee (who’s been in Motorhead for nearly 20 years now). It’s NWOBHM telling a ghost story.
It’s a concept album, the first complete one King Diamond released (the debut, Fatal Portrait, has a few songs unconnected to the overall story). Abigail is a traditional ghost story, which is unusual in metal: metal generally loves horror (death metal particularly) but not so much ghost stories, e.g., The Stone Tape, Hell House, The Haunting of Hill House, The Turn of the Screw, The Beckoning Fair One, etc.
The story concerns a young couple in 1845 who move into an inherited mansion in the middle of nowhere (so far so sweet), who intially are contacted by seven horsemen (those on the album cover) and told that essentially they should go nowhere near the house. Of course they do, where they are visited by the ghost of an ancestor of the young protagonist, who details to him the tragic backstory of the house, and why it does not bode well for the couple and their unborn child.
If you bother to read the actual lyrics (rather than a synopsis), they’re pretty fucking creepy; especially as, being song lyrics and having to be as brief as possible, they give you each plot point or resolution one, maybe two times. You have to pay attention.
King’s oft-debated vocals are admittedly an acquired taste, but if you think of them as characters in the story, it might allay that need. One might also thoroughly consider not being a pussy about it.
Track 3, “A Mansion in Darkness” and its opening guitar solo, a beautiful haunting melody, set the musical tone for the whole record; solo-heavy, mid-tempo traditional heavy metal.
High point: “The Family Ghost,” particularly the solos beginning at 1:30. (Just for reference, Andy LaRocque played a guest solo on At The Gates’ Slaughter of the Soul track “Cold,” one that guitarist Anders Björler has laughingly claimed in interviews that he can’t quite replicate.) LaRocque’s neo-classical runs still piss me off, they’re so well thought out.
Great, great shit.