Unassailable living heavy metal legend. Close personal friend of Anton LaVey (R.I.P.). Internationally certified lab assistant? Believe it or not, all describe the immortal King Diamond, who finally graces the cover of Decibel this month. The thankfully newly healthy Mercyful Fate/King Diamond ringleader let J. Bennett into his inner occult circle -- in the Dallas suburbs, of all places -- for a fascinating career retrospective. Ever candid and compelling, the still hungry proto-corpsepainted icon links his historic past to a bright, unwritten future.
Diamond's visions headline the annual Top 40 Albums of the Year issue, our always controversial rankings of the year's finest in extreme music. There were plenty of exceptional candidates for the top spot -- In Solitude, Gorguts, Inquisition, Carcass, SubRosa -- but you'd better hit the webstore to find out before your friends spoil the whole damn thing. And bonus: you'll want to hear that ripping Toxic Holocaust flexi, too.