When Marilyn Manson was just a skinny punk practicing his pentagrams in the margins of his Algebra II textbook, King Diamond was already recruiting thousands of headbangers worldwide into the Brethren of Beelzebub. First it was with his hugely influential, early thrash/black metal band Mercyful Fate, then with his own group (since 1985). The King has delivered his tales from the dark side with an impressive vocal range, hard-charging sound and theatrical shows -- all with that goofy kabuki makeup on, making him seem like the lost member of KISS (you know, the one most likely to take Gene Simmons's bass and shove it up his ass).
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Since the '80s, the Dane (born Kim Bendix Petersen) has been cutting concept albums for a small but devoted following. Even though he peaked in the late 1980s, with discs like Abigail and Them, he still churns it out. Though supporting players have come and gone over the years -- the King even briefly reunited with Mercyful Fate in 1993 -- he continues to tour and put out an album nearly every year, the most recent of which is House of God (Metal Blade). Even though he's a self-proclaimed satanist, he manages to get his tongue caught in his cheek every now and then. Reading his manager's hilarious tour diary on a Web site -- full with stories of roadie difficulties, equipment fuckups and "hospitality suites" with only sausage, beans and cold coffee -- you wonder if the King's reality is more Spinal Tap than Spawn of Satan.