In the world of heavy metal, King Diamond is the thing that goes “bump” at night.

Born Kim Bendix Peterson on June 14, 1956, in Denmark, King Diamond’s been slowly dying ever since (hey, aren’t we all?), only, lucky for us, he’s been chronicling every step of the process in gory, graphic, musical detail on his many, widely celebrated albums.

Beginning in the mid '70s, Peterson started honing his craft with Danish hard rock bands like Brainstorm and Black Rose, dabbled in punk rock with Brats (their sole 1980 LP is well worth checking out), but truly found his calling as the face-painted, falsetto-singing demon frontman of Mercyful Fate.

Though Mercyful Fate only stayed together long enough to commit two full-length albums to tape (plus assorted EPs and demos, later mined to exhaustion), both 1983’s Melissa and ‘84’s Don’t Break the Oath proved immensely influential on the course of heavy metal history, and its charismatic singer became a legend in his own right.

So perhaps it was inevitable that King Diamond would eventually break away to found a band in his own name and image (at the ripe age of 30, no less), but his success was anything but guaranteed – it was earned on the strength of visionary concept albums like Abigail and “Them”, that established Peterson as heavy metal’s own Vincent Price.

And then, with the help of his faithful guitarist, co-songwriter, and co-conspirator Andy LaRocque, King Diamond proceeded to fill the ensuing decades with bone-chilling ghost stories and head-banging music, to the tune of a dozen studio efforts, and counting.

So turn on all the house lights and steel your courage, pull back the cobwebs and watch out for child ghosts, in particular, as we creep together through King Diamond’s haunted discography, ranked from worst to best, in the gallery above.

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