Friday, October 28, 2016

King Diamond - "Them" (1988)

Released in June 1988, "Them" is the third full-length from King Diamond and the first since the departure of guitarist Michael Denner. Though often praised by critics, this is actually the weakest record from King Diamond's classic era. From the songwriting to the theme to the production itself, various elements combine to make this a rather mediocre and forgettable L.P.

"Them" really sticks out like a sore thumb, when compared to the likes of Abigail, Conspiracy and even The Eye. The production is very weak and flat, lacking the power and dynamics of the aforementioned records. Strangely, this sort of sound was used once again, years later, on The Spider's Lullabye. The change in studios was not the only detriment. 

As with its predecessor, "Them" is a concept album, but one that really misses its mark. I'm not generally a fan of concept albums in the first place, but Abigail was much better in terms of the story and the songwriting. On that record, each song is still strong enough to stand on its own, musically. However, "Them" seems to contain a lot of filler, only there to serve the dull storyline. As well, King's vocals seem to have jumped the shark a bit, with the range of voices going too over-the-top, especially considering that he is screaming about a mentally-ill grandmother and cups of tea. It's just impossible to take any of this seriously. 

Regarding the music itself, the best song on here is "The Accusation Chair". This is the only one on here that I feel could easily stand on its own, apart from the album as a whole. "Welcome Home" and "Mother's Getting Weaker" have their moments, though the chorus (and title) of the latter is just unbearably lame. The rest is just incredibly dull and pointless. The riffs feel interchangeable and there's hardly any real focus. Most of the material on here just serves as a generic backdrop to the idiotic story and plethora of voices. This feels like something that was just thrown together in a hurry.  

"Them" has long been overrated by those with a less discerning taste. This represents a real drop in quality from Abigail. When exploring the classic albums from King Diamond, be sure to skip over this one and move on to Conspiracy. There's nothing of value here.