Other bands in the oddly specific wave of metal music inspired by King Diamond (The NWOKDHM?) have showed signs of expanding their influences, but Germany’s Attic found an even deeper way to express their sole admiration for the Danish prince of darkness. Just as Fatal Portrait gave way to Abigail back in the 80s, Attic has chosen to follow 2012’s song-oriented The Invocation with an all-out concept album in the form of Sanctimonious. It also helps that the sinful nun storyline is the perfect meeting between Abigail and The Eye.
Thankfully, this is a logical direction and the band knows what they’re doing in terms of both presentation and musicianship. The musical dynamics and interludes help the story flow well and Meister Cagliostro’s apt incorporation of wails, groans, and sneers shows that he may be poised to take King Diamond’s place Single White Female style. On the flip side, the guitar work makes itself more distinct as its neoclassical Andy LaRocque aping is also accompanied by black metal tremolo runs in the vein of Emperor and Dissection on the title track and the closing “There is No God.”
But while the band clearly knows how to navigate a full-length horror show, they may have aimed too high when giving it thirteen tracks and making it over an hour long. The individual songs don’t run too long and none of them are less than good, but having so many does make the album feel bloated. A couple songs also don’t serve the narrative, with “The Hound of Heaven” in particular feeling more like a character side note than a direct contribution to the plot.
Bloating aside, thirteen tracks does allow for variety and there are some pretty great songs on here. “A Serpent in the Pulpit” and “Sinless” are easily the most memorable tracks thanks to the upbeat riffs and quirkily catchy choruses that show clear understanding of how the King’s writing style works. “Die Engelmacherin” is also pretty intense on a narrative standpoint and “Dark Hosanna” almost slows down to a ballad’s pace before bringing in a particularly swelling chorus.
Attic’s move to release a concept album shows clear adherence to the path set by their main source of inspiration, but it still serves as an ambitious step forward. The story may be a bit too serious when compared to King Diamond welcoming Grandma home and a couple songs could’ve been dropped to make the album more concise, but the band clearly loves what they’re doing. Their 2012 debut may still be the better effort, but I wouldn’t discourage the band from straying too far from the path they follow. With a bit more editing, they just may have something special around the bend.
“A Serpent in the Pulpit”