HAMMERFALL Guitarist Explains How KING DIAMOND's Guest Appearance On 'Venerate Me' Came About
February 5, 2022
Last month, Swedish metallers HAMMERFALL released a new single, "Venerate Me", featuring a special guest appearance by legendary Danish heavy metal singer King Diamond. The track is taken from the band's twelfth studio album, "Hammer Of Dawn", which is due on February 25 via Napalm Records.
In a new interview with Chris Akin, HAMMERFALL guitarist Oscar Dronjak stated about how King Diamond's contribution came about (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I'm a huge KING DIAMOND and MERCYFUL FATE fan — we all are, from our teenage years; we've listened to them since the '80s. And King Diamond is one of those [artists] — if you like King Diamond, you don't just like him; you love him [and] you love everything about it. That's just the way it is, for some reason; I don't know why it is, but that's how everybody is. So just having King Diamond as a cameo on the album — 'cause it's really what it is, is a cameo; it's not like a 'featuring King Diamond'; it's not a duet or anything. As much as I would love to do that, that's not what this is. So what happened was when I wrote this [song] 'Venerate Me', I had this part and I thought, 'If MERCYFUL FATE or KING DIAMOND had this song back [in the day], this is how they would have done it somehow.' It was just in the back of my head. Then flash forward to album recording, I sat in the chair and I said, more than half joking, 'Wouldn't it be cool if King Diamond sang this part instead of Joacim [Cans, HAMMERFALL singer]?' or whatever, not thinking this is ever gonna happen; of course not. And then our other guitar player, Pontus [Norgren], he's a sound engineer as well; he works with King Diamond for years — several years — so he knows him. I know this, of course, but just knowing somebody doesn't mean that this thing is gonna happen. When I said, 'Wouldn't it be cool if…?', he said, 'I'm sure if I ask him, he's gonna say yes.' And I was, like, 'Are you fucking kidding me? Is there actually a chance, you think?' 'Cause then it started turning into, 'Is [there] actually maybe a possibility of [this] happening?' And then he called him later that night, and King said, 'Yes. Of course.' Right away he sent over the stuff. Then we had months to work on this, to get this ready. And you know how it is when you have a deadline that's months in the future — you don't deal with it until it's closer. So once we were in the mix, that's when things started to pick up again. [We said] 'If we're gonna do this, it has to happen now, 'cause soon it's gonna be too late.' And he sent over his file. I talked to him a lot on the phone, explaining what I… Well, actually I didn't have to explain anything, 'cause I sent the part, like, 'This is what I hear. Can you sing this? Do whatever you want, but this is what I hear.' And he tried to explain to me how he wanted it to sound and how he wanted his voice to sound in the mix, so we talked a lot about that. I understood this right away, because King Diamond's voice, that is his trademark; everybody recognizes that. So he was very particular in terms of how he wanted it to come across. He didn't wanna just do it and then send off the files and [say], 'Do whatever the hell you want with it.' That is not the King Diamond style at all, and I a hundred percent appreciate that; I totally respect that. So we tried to include him as much as we could. We wanted him to be happy — [that was the] bottom line — we wanted him to be happy with the end result because otherwise he might not wanna do it. And we wanted everybody to be happy."
Oscar continued: "What we had and the detailed things he came up with, it was very small changes. For us, it didn't mean much at all. It was, like, 'more vocals here, less…' whatever — balance, basically, and the sort of effects that were used on the vocals. So we were happy with just anything. But he was really meticulous about getting his voice just right. I mean, can you believe after doing this for 40-whatever — yeah, 40 years now, I think — being this meticulous about something, I have so much respect for that. So once we got those levels and everything balanced, he was happy; we were happy. Boom. That was the last thing that happened on the mix. And then — only then — did I actually believe this was gonna be true. Then I realized, 'Now we have it. Now it's done.' And then I was happy as hell."
"Hammer Of Dawn" was produced by longtime collaborator Fredrik Nordström (IN FLAMES, OPETH),who handled mixing, mastering, drum recording, and shared the duty of recording guitars and bass with Norgren and Dronjak. Jacob Hansen (VOLBEAT) produced the lead vocals.
Later this year, HAMMERFALL will team up with HELLOWEEN for an extensive co-headlining tour through Europe.
King Diamond is quite possibly one of the most recognizable and prolific personalities ever in heavy metal. Twice Grammy nominated and revered by icons as big as METALLICA and PANTERA, King Diamond, the man and the band, have left an indelible mark on the history, and now again, the future of heavy metal; video game appearances, to festival and touring appearances have helped vault the living legend into the spotlight and in front of new throngs of metal fans. King Diamond's 40-year musical career is one of the most storied in the history of heavy metal, and the tale is not over yet.
King and his wife, Hungarian-born singer Livia Zita, have a nearly five-year-old son, Byron. The boy was named after King's favorite singer of all time, late URIAH HEEP frontman David Byron. Livia has been performing with KING DIAMOND as a backing vocalist since 2003.
King Diamond, whose real name is Kim Bendix Petersen, told Metal Hammer in 2016 that he has "become a lot healthier" since he underwent open-heart triple-bypass surgery in 2010. He said: "I gave up smoking after my heart scare, my wife keeps me on a strict diet that I follow completely, and doctors are amazed at how healthy I am these days. Honestly, I think I am now healthier than I have ever been. I've also found that, since I made a real effort to have a healthy lifestyle, my voice has improved so much. I can now hit notes that were a struggle for me when I was younger."
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