KING DIAMOND - Highly Strung
By Martin Popoff

Metal's mournful master of the horror somehow always finds a way to weave what would be a pound of paper into a hammered heavy metal circle of plastic. How he does it is testimony to the man's scary sense of structure, not to mention a verdant imagination that joins forces with King's natural fascination with evil, end result being things like Voodoo, Abigail, "Them", House Of God and now... The Puppet Master.

"There are so many different moods on this album," begins King in the same oddly lilting Danish American one hears out of a pretty famous drummer (and Mercyful Fate disciple) called Lars Ulrich, "moods going from quiet, sad stuff to the most aggressive double kick heavy stuff. The impression that I get is that we have been able to put more melody into this album while at the same time having more breaks going on and making the whole thing more theatrical. I'm just talking musically. It's almost like we've put more of everything into the same space of time. The line-up is the same as Abigail II, and they are really coming into their own; I think everybody is playing better. We have written the material, as usual, straight from the heart."

"There's only one thing I do on purpose this time, not coming, as you would say, straight from the heart," offers King as further distinction versus the past. "And that was deliberately in my songs I tried to make the solo parts longer, more like they were in the old days, leaving more spaces for the solos to really develop. It actually becomes more memorable, even though you might not remember all the notes. There are these long solos where they can really develop some cool different styles. That's what I was going for, trying to get a little of that older feel into the solo area. And that works because the band is the best line-up I've ever played with and I think you can hear that too; it's very confident, the way it's executed. I feel that the inspiration has gone up a notch. And then of course you heard that there is a female vocalist appearing on the album, in addition to the normal line-up. That's another new thing we've never, ever done before. It makes it more fresh and it makes it more theatrical because you actually have one of the characters being portrayed by a female singing, and not just, like before where a few times, you would have a song where a girl talks something or whatever, cries. So there are quite a few things that I think will strike the listener, like 'Wow, this is different, but it's 150% King Diamond.' It's nothing that changes the overall style that we've had for many years. I feel that it's a positive addition but it's used in an amount that's not changing anything. It enhances the theatrical aspect of it."

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