Abigail II: The Revenge
Metal Blade Records, 2002
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/26/2002
Sequels are not new ground for King Diamond and his band. In the late '80s, he followed up Them (one of the discs argued to be the best in his catalog) with Conspiracy, thus completing the tale.
But there was a key difference between those two discs and the situation surrounding Abigail, Diamond's 1987 release, and Abigail II: The Revenge, the latest disc from Diamond. Obviously, the biggest difference is clear - namely, 15 years have passed between albums. But somewhere along the line, the original story line (which was cloudy to begin with - not necessarily Diamond's fault, since you only had 50 minutes on record to tell a story) has become that much more unclear. Add to that the passage of time on Diamond's vocal style and an uninspired musical score, and you have a disappointing release from someone who normally puts out quality material.
Let's see if I can tie the story up quickly: When we last left Abigail, the spirit of Abigail had invaded Miriam Nateas, causing an overnight pregnancy (and Miriam's murder by Jonathan LaFey when he pushed her down the stairs). The baby Abigail is taken by the Black Horsemen (led by the mysterious O'Brian) to be done away with via an elaborate ceremony... or so we thought.
It turns out that O'Brian and the Black Horsemen end up sheltering Abigail, since the spirit of Abigail is really O'Brian's half-sister - follow the family bloodline in the CD booklet if you really want the full details. Abigail, now 18 years old, sets out for the mansion which should have been her home to find her father (now crippled and relying on a cane and wheelchair) - and to avenge her mother's death. But Abigail's arrival leads her to the discovery of "Little One," the ghost which haunts the mansion (namely, the ghost of the stillborn Abigail), the mysterious servant Brandon Henry (whose appearance is never fully explained) and Jonathan LaFey's descent into madness, thinking that Abigail is Miriam sent back to him. And, as I said in the previous review, this is where the fun begins...
There are two main weaknesses with Abigail II: The Revenge. First is the music, which sounds like Diamond and crew are tiredly rehashing old riffs and songs to the point that they could write these in their sleep. At one time, Diamond's music sounded fresh and menacing; this time around, all I could think of was, "Been there, done that."
The second weakness is with the story itself. If Abigail left some plot lines unexplained, Abigail II tries too hard to create a basic story that ties in with the first - causing both to suffer. Do I have a problem with Diamond and crew revisiting the tale of Abigail? No. But, let's be honest, anything that Diamond created was going to pale in comparison to the original story (and I'm not saying I could have done better myself), but this particular tale reads less like the demonic Stephen King story of Abigail and more like a second-rate, low-budget horror film.
And, really, this is a shame. If anyone could have pulled the loose ends together and crafted an album to rival Abigail, Diamond has the talent to do it. But he's not in his twenties anymore, and the falsetto vocals which once cut through a song like a hot knife through butter now seem like they're a bit strained, and the songs are performed more often than not in a normal vocal style. When Diamond does resort to falsettos, they sometimes feel like they're just being thrown in to remind people who they're listening to.
There is no doubt in my mind that Diamond is still a viable force in the black metal scene; 2000's House Of God proved that. But Abigail II: The Revenge makes me wonder why the original story had to be amended in the first place.