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King Diamond and Exodus @ The Fillmore.

November 30, 2015

King side resizeText and images by Jimmy Viola.

The most iconic and enduring corpse-painted face of heavy metal royalty, King Diamond, wailed through The Fillmore last Wednesday night. Sporting his signature top hat and black and white makeup – think Kiss but more evil – Diamond and company rocked out on a stage elaborately dressed up with gargoyles, a double stairwell and two massive inverted crosses.

King Diamond played the entirety of his sophomore album from 1987, Abigail, a conceptual horror record recounting the simple story of couple who move into a Victorian mansion, only to be tormented and possessed by the ghost of a stillborn infant who was killed by house’s previous resident. The show marked the first time the band played the album live on tour in its entirety.

The King first set the metal world ablaze as the frontman of Danish rockers Mercyful Fate, who released two landmark albums filled with demons, witches and devils in Melissa (1983) and Don’t Break the Oath (1984), before embarking on a nearly 30-year solo career centered around horror concept albums.

Even at 59, Diamond’s incomparable falsetto rang with a haunting clarity and power as if preserved by some otherworldly force. The live experience encapsulated why King Diamond has remained a force of inspiration through his long career—an intricate stage show, charismatic presence, songs comprised of an unrelenting onslaught progressive thrash riffs, funky breakdowns and rock and roll hooks.

He opened the set with “Welcome Home,” accompanied by a haggard grandma wearing an exaggerated rubber mask in a wheelchair. The human prop helped the King deliver the lyrics “Let me help you out of your chair, Grandma,” with a campy sneer. He followed up with “Halloween” and “Eye Of The Witch.”

Then King Diamond cranked out two Mercyful Fate numbers, “Melissa” and “Come To The Sabbath,” each one the respective closing number of Mercyful Fate’s first and second albums.

From there, King Diamond dove into the Abigail album. He tore through classics like “The Family Ghost,” “Omens,” “Abigail” and ended with the album’s closing track ”Black Horsemen.” The King worked the crowd with a mix of glee and grimace, eager to stick out his tongue and point devil horns at the feral metal fans, who headbanged extra hard on account of the camera crew filming the show for an upcoming DVD.

Longtime guitarist Andy LaRocque, who has played with King since his debut album in 1986, held down the riff laden rhythm duties. He shared solos with second guitarist Mike Wead. Drummer Matt Thompson comprised the rhythm section with newly added bassist Pontus Egberg, who had strikingly similar hair, mannerisms and the finger playing style of a youthful Steve Harris.

Bay Area pioneers Exodus opened the night, celebrating the 30th anniversary of their debut album Bonded By Blood, which might go down as one of the heaviest and most influential thrash metal debut albums of all time. They played the fan favorites from that debut like the title track, “Strike Of The Beast” as well as the mosh pit anthem “The Toxic Waltz.” Frontman Steve Souza made a point to let the Philly crowd know their guitarist Lee Altus was a Flyers fan, an encouraged them to greet him with middle fingers and F bombs.

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