Fatal Portrait

King Diamond

Roadrunner Records, 1986


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


After he left Mercyful Fate in the mid-'80s, King Diamond made some musical changes. Sure, he still made music that would scare the hell out of any televenagelist-slash-bullshit artist, much less an unsuspecting listener. But gone were the overtly Satanic images, and in were story lines that suggested a much depeer horror than that of the horned one.

Fatal Portrait, Diamond's 1986 solo debut, features songwriting that suggested nothing but the best for Diamond and his bandmates, but when it comes to the storyline, it's not his strongest effort.

The story line, at least as far as I can decipher it, tells of the spirit of a young girl, a spirit which was sucked out of her young life by a jealous mother through a portrait she painted of her daughter. As the child issued a curse upon her mother, the child Molly's spirit was trapped in a book her mother read from as her portrait was burned. Many years later, our hero releases the spirit of the child from that book, and the child plans her revenge on her mother.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Okay, maybe this was enough to cause leaders of the PMRC to soil their pants in fright back in 1986, but with all due respect to Diamond, the plot line in Fatal Portrait isn't much harsher than your typical horror movie being cranked out of Hollywood, and this story's plot line is a little difficult to follow in the second half of the album. Musically, though, Fatal Portrait is quite strong.

Granted, Diamond's style of music is hardly that which would top the Billboard singles charts, but there are some songs on Fatal Portrait that stand out well enough on their own. "Halloween" was the closest thing to a hit song Diamond had on this album, and remains a fan favorite to this day, for good reason. I never was really into Diamond's music when I was a teenager, though I heard enough of it on the nightly heavy metal show, so it was surprising to hear songs like "Dressed In White," "Voices From The Past" (an 89-second instrumental passage) and "Haunted" only to find myself recognizing these tracks. In truth, they're all quite good. Even the songs which might not be as familiar, like "The Jonah," "The Portrait" and "Lurking In The Dark," all more often than not fall into the enjoyable category.

The only real problem with Fatal Portrait is that the storyline is as much an intregal part of Diamond's work as his music is, and without a strong story to tie everything together, the album's power dips a bit. This isn't to say it's any less enjoyable to listen to, but there is the aura of what could have been with this one. Admittedly, Diamond was honing his talents, and still had his most famous works lying ahead of him. So Fatal Portrait serves as a springboard to those works - an enjoyable disc to listen to, but not Diamond's top-notch creation.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Roadrunner Records, and is used for informational purposes only.