Concepts

Good day all,

I really love when an album can surprise you and  not only exceeds expectations, but increases your experience for music. That is how I feel after finding Dawnbringer’s new album Into the Lair of the Sun God, I cannot stop listening to this album and on top of that it is a complete concept album and the story is virtually flawless. My new fascination with this album got me wondering about concept albums as a whole and how they are created and what skill it must take to make them cohesive and understandable pieces of music. There are some masters of the concept album and many of you will know who I am going to discuss, but I think a discussion of the concept album is still in order.

King Diamond may be the (sorry I have to do it) “king” of the concept album and he is an interesting case study. What is amazing about what he does with his music and stories is interesting because he never did that with Mercyful Fate and after leaving that band just started up withFatal Portrait and the rest is history. I would love to talk to King Diamond one day and ask him how he wound up on the path of the concept album. He has made them over and over again and I wonder if he was a struggling author that decided to take what he had and put it to music. What I love about King Diamond is he is able to create a truly complicated story and have it sound so perfect with the music he and his band write to compliment the story. That brings up another question, does King have the story first and then adds the music or does he have the music and it inspires the story? All questions I would love to have answered.

Personally for me my two favorite King DIamond albums are Them and The Puppet Master these two albums seem to have the perfect stories that are combined with the perfect music which allows each song to stand out on its own, but also be intricate to the story itself. The mood, tone, and atmosphere of these two albums is really intriguing and pulls the listener into the story. King Diamond, at least to me, when you listen to him it is like listening to a book on tape, you can see the story unfolding in your mind and you actually become invested in the characters. That is what makes a great concept album and that is also how I feel about the new Dawnbringer album.

But King Diamond and Dawnbringer are far from the first groups to make a concept album, Lizzy Borden’s Appointment with Death and Master of Disguise, Queensryche’s Operation Mindcrimes 1 and 2, Amon Amarth’s Surtur Rising also are great concept albums and these bands are superb at creating great concept albums. The fact is, Alice Cooper may have been the original metal concept album artist, his albums Alice Goes to Hell, Welcome to My Nightmare, The Last Temptation, and Along Came a Spider are hallmarks of the concept album genre. Arguably, Welcome to My Nightmare could be the first great heavy metal concept album. I do not know this for a fact but undoubtably King Diamond was heavily influenced by Alice Cooper as well as all other concept album writers.

The concept album itself is what really intrigues me though. I understand that all song writers can write their songs and music differently, but to write a really great concept album it seems that you would have to have a really great roadmap of how you are going to put everything together. The writer is not just writing a song, but a song that intertwines with the other songs on the album and has to fit and be cohesive. This would seem like a daunting process for any song writer no matter how great they are. If you look at what a book author has to do with a story and how they have to outline what is the plot and how they are going to structure the stories and characters, that seems like a daunting task. Now add writing music to that list! You see? Creating a great concept album seems to be an extraordinary achievement for a musician. Looking at Alice Cooper’s career he at least released several non-concept albums in between his concept albums which probably allowed him a little more freedom in his songwriting process. But King Diamond has done concept album after concept album, not all of them have been great, but they all achieved the point of telling a story from beginning to end coherently.

As I stated earlier the awesome new album from Dawnbringer was what got me thinking about the concept album and how difficult it must be to cultivate this type of album. There are plenty of concept albums to choose from out there from the above mentioned Alice Cooper, Lizzy Borden, Coheed and Cambria, even Rush’s new album. But I stand in awe at the ability of these bands to be able to put these types of stories together and literally take me into their music and be part of their stories. If you have never listened to any of the albums or bands I mentioned above I strongly recommend you do so, it will give you a new perspective on how metal can be created and enjoyed. 

Song of the Day: http://youtu.be/UjG7HSpnIbk  A small sample of Dawnbringer’ new album.

Until later, Peace,

Lurch

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