King Diamond - Official Website


Conspiracy

Denmark Country of Origin: Denmark

1. At The Graves
2. Sleepless Nights
3. Lies
4. A Visit From The Dead
5. The Wedding Dream
6. "Amon" Belongs To "Them"
7. Something Weird
8. Victimized
9. Let It Be Done
10. Cremation


Review by Mandeep Arora on June 3, 2024.

I wasn't born or grew up in the eighties to firsthand witness the rise of King Diamond but can totally imagine how much credibility the band must have acquired through its string of classic albums one after the other. That there was barely a gap of a year between them seems all the more impressive. "Them" is apparently the band's most successful record from a commercial standpoint and wasting no time, the band set off to make a direct sequel in Conspiracy, which starts right where "Them" left off: King, the main character in the story, going back to his haunted house after being away for long enough to have allowed a series of bizzare events that he needs to seek answers for. Hmmm...

I've always maintained that King Diamond, while heavy and speed metal at core, has always had strong progressive tendencies and they further embrace this on Conspiracy with its wondrous opener At the Graves - all of the band's theatrics are on full display on this nine-minute behemoth with innumerable guitar solos, some awkward time signatures, neat drum fills and an overall eccentric, and slightly challenging, structure. It’s a busier sound for sure, a bit chaotic, and fast, like everything's gushing at you at a seriously fast pace, but I think you get used to it and then start immersing yourself in the many highlights, like the beautifully laid out guitar solos for one. King Diamond's vocals sound far better resolved and accentuate that soothing effect of the melodies, too.

Now that you have realised there's more complexity to the music and have been acquainted with the same, you maintain a good flow with the first few songs in succession. Some sections especially stand out, like the entirety of Sleepless Nights and its skillful use of melody and speed, the rhythmic outro of Lies and its underlying progressive traits despite a small footprint of whisker over four minutes and the acoustic intro of A Visit from the Dead, which then gradually and obviously transitions into the heavier stuff and prepares you for the oncoming onslaught. I'd say the first four songs are an absolute delight and while the sound is a bit complex, you don't tie yourself in knots while unravelling the sequestered bits here and there. Mikkey Dee may have been out of the band at this point but he still plays as a session drummer and redound to his credit, has some very interesting drum fills. Along with Hal Patino, who isn't as obscure on this album as he was on "Them", he complements the slightly doomy-sounding yet crazy fast riffage and beautiful solos by Pete Blakk and Andy LaRocque.

Sadly, things aren't as interesting on Side B; the initial flow you’d made with the album now seemingly ebbing away. I personally find the story underwhelming and a rather pointless continuation of the masterful "Them", though I appreciate how they flesh out King's adorable relationship with his sister and his hatred of the evil doctor. Props to King Diamond as well for putting so much emotion while singing these particular bits. However, and unfortunately, this is touched upon only initially and becomes an afterthought once we make progress, rendering bland and forgettable characters with undefined and stupid motives. I think part of that problem is when the story is supposed to hit its peak and reach conclusion, we need lyrical references and singing to emote the same. Instead, we get three instrumental songs if we completely disregard the cheesy narration on Let It Be Done. This weird placement of instrumentals in quick succession not only does not help the story, it also thins out the album sound and feel.

The same can even be said for the music on Side B. It's definitely not shabby, far from it, but isn't spectacular either. Now I'd still be okay if it withered at the expense of some wonderful storytelling à la "Them" but as I said, the story's just not good enough for any kind of redemption here. The Wedding Dream onwards, the songs are decent at best and don't have the wow factor the first four songs have in spades. The poor placement of the instrumentals is bizzare but I'd be remiss if I said Something Weird, while actually weird, has some interesting instrumentation and experimentation, though what it adds to the album sound overall is still a mystery to me. We do finish things in style, if only musically - Cremation strongly pulls through with its badass main riff that's repeated in many permutations for its entirety. The guitars achieve a certain sinister atmosphere and I cannot not imagine a group of seemingly evil people wearing black cloaks and carrying a casket on the darkened, cobbled streets. All around is horror, and thick gloom…

Conspiracy may be the weakest and most directionless of the first five KD albums, both musically and conceptually, but it's still a fun album in its own right. It's the most complex of the band's early years and seems the peak of their musical excursion and experimentation, since we are treated to a much more mellow yet beautiful The Eye as follow-up. If you cast aside the story and forget it's a conceptual record, maybe the song placement will not seem all that awkward and the almost instantaneous instrumentals won't sound out of place. But there's no denying this is a lopsided album where Side A is pulling all the weight while Side B mostly staggers on the side of the road. Nonetheless, this dip in quality, while apparent, is not strong enough to dampen the album's status as a classic and it only adds to the band's top-drawer resume of classic albums one after the other, year after year. If that is not an impressive enough feat, then I don't know what is.

Rating: 8 out of 10

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