In King Diamond's 1986 single, "Halloween," the Danish-metal prince shrieked about ancient rituals, torture and all things demonic: "Like in horror dreams, I want/ I command you to scream." A full 22 years later, Diamond — who released his latest album, Give Me Your Soul ... Please, in late June — is still doing plenty of screaming. Only lately, they've been screams of pain. And this Halloween he won't be stealing any souls — or even trick-or-treat candy. He'll be bedridden with a herniated disc.
"I can't sit down, even on my couch, for more than a few minutes," he said from his Texas home. "About a month ago I tried, and after 15 minutes, it started feeling like my left leg was getting set on fire."
Just six weeks ago, Diamond had to stand on one leg to brush his teeth and was unable to bend over enough to spit toothpaste into the sink. Now, as long as he eats standing up and walks for 90 minutes between four-hour intervals in bed, he can get through the day without any major attacks of pain.
Of course, that makes touring impossible, and in late June, Diamond postponed his entire European trek. While he hopes to heal in time for the U.S. tour, which is scheduled to launch March 23 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, and run through May 8 in Houston, he's not entirely sure he'll be able to play those shows either.
"It can take up to a year and a half for a severe herniated disc to heal properly, but it varies from person to person," he said. "So, we are crossing our fingers and praying that we won't have to cancel the U.S shows. Right now there's not much more we can do."
Diamond got a taste of what might happen if he hits the road too soon in September when director Bill Schacht from video company Aestheticom — which has also worked with Amon Amarth — shot a video for "Give Me Your Soul," the first King Diamond clip in 17 years. "They limited what I had to do, of course, so I only did one day of shooting for 90 minutes, but just standing there moving a little bit in the full outfit was very difficult," he said. "And afterwards, I got one of those sharp attacks of pain that I hadn't had in a month and a half. The only thing I can compare it to is a really super-bad toothache or earache. And afterwards, I was like, 'OK, I'm not ready [to tour] yet.' "
So, how did the pioneer of demonic metal injure his back, anyway — painting pentagrams in blood around the altar, strapping virgins into the torture rack in his basement? Nope, the 51-year-old rocker hurt himself working in his home studio on Give Me Your Soul ... Please.
"I think the real damage happened mixing the record, because I did that three weeks straight for a minimum of 12 hours a day," he said. "One of the last nights, when I was going to bed, I felt these pains in the sciatic nerves on each side, and I thought, 'Oh what is this?' The next morning I woke up and I couldn't walk or stand. It was like being paralyzed. I can't begin to say how painful it was. They say that's the worst pain you can experience as a human being. Had I not lived on the ground floor in a house, I would have jumped out the window."
If, as his detractors claim, Diamond is damned to spend an eternity in hell, at least he'll have an idea of what it might be like. "In the beginning, these attacks were 15 minutes at a time, of unbearable pain. The first month after I had the accident, my left leg looked like I got out of a concentration camp. It was all thin and I lost all the muscle tone because I couldn't put any weight on it."
After undergoing an MRI, doctors determined that Diamond's herniated disc wouldn't require an operation but that he would have to undergo intensive physical therapy and plenty of rest if he was to properly heal. "Doing the exercises, at first, I would try to wiggle my left leg back and forth a little, but there was so much pain it was absolutely impossible. But gradually, I got to the point where I could move the leg pretty well and now I'm walking around and both legs are the same size again."
In addition to religiously following doctors' order, Diamond is now eating healthy and avoiding all medication — even Tylenol. "I take no painkillers whatsoever," he said. "That's the best way to heal fast, I think, because if my spine is in a slightly wrong position lying down, I feel the pain and I readjust the position of how I'm lying and then it slowly dies away. That way I know I'm not lying in a wrong position. If I feel the pain it's a signal that, 'Hey, you're doing something wrong.' "
But while he's being a good patient and focusing on his recovery, Diamond is itching to be able to get back onstage and perform songs from his new album, which he considers his greatest accomplishment yet as a solo artist.
"It's very frustrating to be stuck here and not be able to do what I do best," he explained. "I'd rather get shot in the leg because then I know I'd heal in a couple months and I'd be ready. I would love nothing more than to be able to play the U.S. shows, but of course, it's much better to postpone the tour and heal properly than to go out and play some stupid hero with your own health and then find out it didn't work. You got one week into the tour, and now you sit in a wheelchair and [your] career's over. So, this is the only way to do it. And afterwards we have many, many more good years ahead of us. I just have to get better first."
The rest of the week's metal news:
Norwegian black-metallers Zyklon are going on hiatus. According to guitarist Tomas "Samoth" Thormodsæter Haugen, the band's future plans are "up in the air at the moment," as all of its members live in different cities. "We're not always an easy band to manage," he said in a statement. "[We all] have multiple commitments on different fronts, thus it's often hard for all the [logistical] and practical things to work. This situation has especially come more into focus in the last year or so, where it has become harder and harder to get the band together when needed, with the spirit and excitement that one expects from a band like this. Basically, I don't feel that we as a band have the fire needed to start working on a new album right now. Therefore Zyklon are taking a break." Samoth, who is also known for his work with Emperor, also revealed that there are plans for an Emperor DVD with "a lot of cool material to be reviewed, mixed and edited." No word yet on when the effort will hit stores. ...
Turbonegro are down a member after the departure of rhythm guitarist Rune Rebellion, according to reports. But Rune isn't leaving the Turbonegro family — he'll continue running the band's label, Scandinavian Leather Recordings, and plans to manage the band's tour business. ... All That Remains, Shadows Fall and Killswitch Engage are among the artists who have been nominated in the Outstanding Metal/Hardcore Band of the Year category at this year's Boston Music Awards. We'll find out who takes the honor home on December 1, when the awards invade the city's Orpheum Theatre. The Red Chord, Unearth, Isis and Converge are also in the running for the award. Meanwhile, the Shad and Killswitch have also been nominated in the Album of the Year (Major) and Act of the Year categories. ...
Things are not well in the land of Gorgoroth. Gaahl, frontman for the black-metal masters, and guitarist Infernus recently had an undisclosed argument over the band's future and, via MySpace, had announced their dissolution. But on Monday, the band's Web site insisted Infernus left the fold, leaving Gaahl and bassist King ov Hell to continue on as Gorgoroth. Not so fast — Infernus, a founding member of the band, plans to file suit against his former bandmates, for use of the Gorgoroth name. Gaahl issued a statement explaining the mess. "It's the disrespect he has shown our working partners — record labels, session musicians, promoters (by sending unserious demands in riders, etc.) and producers we have worked with over the years — which has lead to this decision," he wrote. "In addition, he has not been a creative force for the last eight years. He has shown no interest in the art defining Gorgoroth during that same period of time. He has not shown up for rehearsals and has broken agreements on several occasions. It's gotten to a point were King and I can't create a fire as long as someone is there pouring water over it." He said he intends to continue crafting sinister metal, with or without the Gorgoroth name. According to Infernus, he's been meeting with his legal team and said "there is now Gorgoroth, and another fraction with a Gorgoroth name on it." ...
Soon, we'll have another Arsis album to feast on. The band recently completed work on the effort, titled We Are the Nightmare, under the guidance of producer Zeuss (Agnostic Front, Hatebreed). The LP is slated for release early next year and boasts 10 tracks, including "Shattering the Spell," "Failing Winds of Hopeless Greed" and "A Feast for the Liar's Tongue." ... Filipino-American thrash-metallers Death Angel have titled their forthcoming LP Killing Season. The record is slated for release early next year and is being recorded at a Los Angeles studio with producer Nick Raskulinecz (Shadows Fall, Velvet Revolver). ... Belgium grindcore specialists Leng Tch'e are in search of a new bassist, with usual player Nicolas Malfeyt having shifted to second guitar. The band had been looking for a second guitarist. Those interested in auditioning should contact the band via its MySpace page. ... Ever wanted to name a band? Well, here's your chance. Fear Factory guitarist Christian Olde Wolbers and drummer Raymond Herrera have teamed up with Threat Signal frontman Jon Howard to start a new project, but they haven't been able to come up with a name for it. Ideas can be submitted to Wolbers via his MySpace page. ...
Drummer Jeramie Kling has left Floridian metallers the Absence after five years with the band. According to a statement from the group, Kling said he felt he had "experienced 'repetitive, blatant dishonesty' from bandmembers that 'ultimately was taking away from the band's success and priorities.' At this point, Jeramie no longer wishes to be associated with the Absence due to their 'pretentiousness and disregard' on a personal level and to the fans who put them where they are." The band will honor all of its prior touring commitments, as soon as it tracks down a fill-in. ... Obituary and Merauder will join forces for a handful of gigs in December. Look for the bands to roll through Clifton Park, New York (December 7); Brooklyn, New York (December 8); and Sayreville, New Jersey (December 9). ... Experimental hardcore outfit Some Girls have thrown in the towel. There's no word yet on why the band split up. ... Remember Dub War, those Brits who forged reggae with metal and somehow pulled it off? Well, while the band has been inactive since 1999, two Dub War releases will be coupled together and reissued as an exclusive double-CD pack on Tuesday. The set will include 1995's Pain and 1996's Wrong Side of Beautiful.