350: KING DIAMOND

King Diamond is heavy metal royalty. Itโ€™s right there in the name. As the frontman for Mercyful Fate, he (and the band as a whole) were instrumental to the first wave of black metal, as well as influencing metal as a whole in the early 80s.

Mercyful Fate incorporated the 70s rock sound, particularly prog rock, into their heavy metal sound. This flashy metal sound was paired with Kingโ€™s dark lyrics – often featuring occult themes and Satanic concepts. All of this in turn influenced both Metallica and Slayer among many others.

In 1985, shortly after having left Mercyful Fate, King Diamond – along with guitarist Michael Denner and bassist Timi Hansen – formed a new band, naming after his own stage name for the built in recognition. With King Diamond the band, lightning struck a second time. For all Mercyful Fateโ€™s influence and importance, King Diamond because even bigger.

In the 36 years since, King Diamond have released a dozen albums (with lucky number thirteen due to arrive next year). They have continued to tour consistently, and have headlined countless festivals around the world in this time.

Starting in 1992, Mercyful Fate have reunited on and off, parallel to King Diamond. Both bands have remained immensely relevant and popular throughout.

With his proto-corpse paint look and surprising falsetto vocals, King Diamond is a larger-than-life presence in the metal world. To have fronted a band as iconic a Mercyful Fate is an achievement. To have done so twice? Thatโ€™s the King.

And all hail the King.