King Diamond is probably the best storyteller in Heavy Metal Universe and his theatrical/concept albums have marked our music and our lives through all these years. After his great comeback with Mercyful Fate back in the early 90’s, there had been 5 years without releasing something for his personal band after the 1990’s masterpiece “The Eye”. His return was a King’s personal triumph as all songs are written by him, except 3 that are written along with Andy LaRocque (“Killer”, “Six Feet Under” & “To The Morgue”). After the poor promotion of “The Eye” from Roadrunner, King signed with Metal Blade Records and began writing a new chapter in his personal career (I had this album from Massacre though… probably Massacre Records had the distribution in Europe or something).
Musically speaking we are dealing with catchy riffs and melodic guitars creating a terrifying and creepy atmosphere alongside with the wise used keyboards. The songwriting and storytelling is excellent but the solos are weaker as the instrumentals all around too. You can’t blame the rhythm section for not being decent but still we expect more from Mr. Petersen’s band. There’s an excuse of course, there is always one, as King had terrible personal issues back then and the lineup selection was rather sloppy and only Andy La Rocque was a top notch member. King’s vocals are here less high pitched and more warm and tamer introducing a new way of singing that he will also use in his latest albums. This is the most melodic release from King Diamond, with probably all songs being in the same (high) level but unfortunately it is also the most underrated album of his career. Much better than “The Graveyard” and “Voodoo” and in fact it has nothing to be jealous from albums like “Them” or “Fatal Portrait”. To be 100% honest this is the last great album from King until 2005, and is the end of a golden era of 10 years of excellent releases from the band.
Lyrically speaking “The Spider’s Lullaby” was unlike most of its predecessors and was kind in the vein of “Conspiracy” in a way. No horror-themed concept here, as the storyline no longer follows the entire album. Still the second half of the album follows a storyline, with the first half being made up of individual stories. The topics? You can guess them… from serial killers to ghost haunting and through demonic children to murderers…as you imagined many various horror clichés that King have respond in his stories.
“From the Other Side” is a story about a guy’s struggle with an out-of-body experience, forcing him to come back to life before it is too late.
“Killer” is the story of a serial killer who is sentenced to death by electric chair.
“The Poltergeist” is about a ghost hunter who detects a spirit in his house, only to find out that the spirit is a friendly and harmless one, not an evil one!
“Dreams” unfold the story of a man who suffers from non – stop terrifying nightmares and encounters she-demons in the form of little girls, who at first seem to take him to paradise; however, paradise turns out to be a nightmare, the man tries to escape from.
“Moonlight” is about a group of cursed children, obviously influenced by the 1960 film ‘Village of the Damned’.
“Six Feet Under” is actually an alternative version, something like a cutscene from “Conspiracy” and references from “Them” telling what would have happened differently if King’s mother and his sociopath therapist Doctor Landau had buried him alive in a glass coffin so they (along with his family) could watch him suffer in agony and perish, while his sister Missy kicks dirt in his face, laughing at his pain.
The remaining four songs on this album make up a small concept story under the name ‘The Spider’s Lullabye’. The story: A shy man named Harry is afraid of spiders. To cure his arachnophobia, he goes to see on Dr. Eastman, a doctor that claims he can cure any kind of phobias. Dr. Eastman’s cure methods are less that orthodox. With the help of his assistant 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. Dr. Eastman believes that Harry died simply out of fright, but the morgue where he 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 Harry’s neck…
“The Spider’s Lullabye” describes desperate Harry who is terrified of spiders and tries to find a doctor to cure his arachnophobia.
“Eastmann’s Cure”: Harry is answering an ad in the local newspaper about a psychiatric hospital that specializes in curing phobias of all kinds. Dr. Eastmann is now the new character in the song’s theme and introduces himself as a “hero”, as a friendly physician who hides his true intentions.
“Room 17”: In “Room 17”, Harry awaits Dr. Eastmann and his assistant Nurse Needle Dear to start his treatment and cure. The so-called “treatment” is nothing more than a torture session when Nurse Needle unleashes a wolf spider from the “Crawly Box”. The very next day, Harry complains of having a weird feeling on his neck, spider bites, and intense pain. Dr. Eastmann doesn’t pay attention to Harry’s words. The same night Harry is found long dead and covered from head to toe in a spiderweb-like cocoon. A series of spiders have wrapped him up like a fly, saving his dead body for consumption. Dr. Eastman claims that Harry had clearly died of fright, possibly from a heart attack. Harry is now reduced to bones and skin.
“To the Morgue” spiders begin making their home in Harry’s empty eye sockets along with other patients who have also died from unknown reasons.
The “Spider’s Lullabye” is a brilliant album and mostly entertaining, but is far from being the the best amongst King’s releases. This is the deluxe 2015 edition remastered by guitarist/producer Andy LaRocque. Twenty years later the album compositions are still fresh and it’s quite interesting that newer fans appreciate this album much more than the listeners back in 1995. But wait a minute, in 1995 were there any better heavy metal releases than this one? Of course there weren’t many… Anyway, I suppose that Time heals everything and gives sometimes second chances to albums, fans etc… Even though this is the third time this album has been released – originally in 1995, and then re-mastered by Andy LaRocque and re-released in 2009 – it is the first time to include unreleased demos on which LaRocque performs the solos and King Diamond himself is responsible for everything else. This edition has the same cover as the 2009 remastered edition from Metal Blade (similar but different than the original) and the unreleased demos you can find here are: “Moonlight”, “From the Other Side”, “The Spider’s Lullabye” and “Dreams”. Buy or Die !!!!