Originally released in 1995, King Diamond’s The Spider’s Lullabye is to date the only CD in the King Diamond discography to attempt a more conventional song structure. There are 10 songs on this album. Of these, six are standalone “singles.” The remaining four songs make up what amounts to a mini concept album.
At this point musically, King Diamond had undergone some dramatic personnel changes, with only King Diamond and guitarist Andy LaRocque left. As a result, this album returns to a heavier sound, moving away from the progressive metal touches of previous recordings and instead focusing on harder-rocking tracks. LaRocque sets down some solid guitar riffs, dynamic but all-too short leads, and catchy hooks throughout the record, and he even contributes keyboards. King Diamond uses his vocal range to great effect, particularly on tracks like “Dreams” and “Moonlight.” Newcomer Herb Simonson does well, as do bassist Chris Estes and drummer Darrin Anthony.
The “singles” songs cover a variety of supernatural and paranormal topics, from out-of-body experiences and serial killers to ghosts and possessed children. Hints of past and future can be found in these songs. For example, “The Poltergeist” reminded me of Mercyful Fate’s treatment, “The Uninvited Guest.” “Killer” hints at a storyline later fully explored in the concept album The Graveyard and “Dreams” reminded me of the two little girls in The Eye. There’s even a cut scene from Conspiracy with “Six Feet Under,” which fans will get a kick out of.
The remaining four songs on this album make up a novella that could be titled The Spider’s Lullabye. This story is about a shy man named Harry. Poor Harry is afraid of spiders. To cure his escalating arachnophobia, Harry goes to see on Dr. Eastman, who saws he can cure phobias of any kind and severity. Sadly, Dr. Eastman’s cures are less that orthodox. With the help of his assistance Nurse Needle Dear, Eastman begins to torture Harry by unleashing a wolf spider from a so-called “Crawly Box.” That night, Harry is attacked by a virtual army of such spiders, who wrap him up in webbing for later consumption. Although Eastman believes that Harry died simply out of fright, the morgue where the good doctor works is filled with spiders that are now making their home within the corpses. The spiders are babies that have hatched from a sac buried in poor Harry’s neck. Such is the horror at Devil Lake Sanitarium.
Although fans prefer his concept albums, King Diamond’s The Spider’s Lullabye remains a good representation of the band, even though the band itself was going through quite a few changes. Critics still point out that the music leans too much toward conventional rock and perhaps even into pop music, given the standalone structure of many of the songs. Veteran listeners of all the King Diamond discography will likely nod their heads, as The Spider’s Lullabye does have its share of less-than-metal moments. However, the mini concept album is pure dementia, complete with LaRocque’s more hardened riffs and Diamond’s insane vocals.