Crimen Laesae Majestatis Divinae

Been searching for a modern counterpart to Mercyful Fate? Hell, even if you haven’t, if you call yourself a fan of King Diamond‘s work, you need to hear Portrait. Crimen Laesae Majestatis Divinae is the group’s potentially unintentional homage to the King, minus some of the creeping horror skulking around most Mercyful Fate/King Diamond material. It’s just damn good, damn wicked heavy metal that at times plods vigorously and at others slices mercilessly. Look at the album cover, for Christ’s sake! Don’t ask me what the hell the title means, though.

At times, when listening to Crimen Laesae Majestatis Divinae, you’d swear you were hearing Andy LaRocque on guitar, playing something crisp yet sinister over King Diamond‘s unmistakable wailing vocals. The overall production and tone of the album is familiarly shrouded, and the material is nearly as haunting as that from the likes of Don’t Break the Oath or Them. But Portrait‘s approach to this style of music is not a complete ripoff of the King’s ideals; instead, they’ve used the blueprint of classic heavy metal and manipulated it to their liking, in the process creating something familiar yet still unique. Or something like that.

Ripping riffs are prevalent on this album — see “Beast of Fire,” “Bloodbath” or “The Passion” for examples. There are also plenty of moments of charged, ominous rhythm, such as that heard in “Darkness Forever” and “Der Todesking.” Per Karlsson’s vocal style is definitely one learned from the school of the King, though his range isn’t quite as impressive. Still, it doesn’t deter from the overall sound of Crimen Laesae Majestatis Divinae, and actually complements it fairly well. Also worth noting about the album is the subtle inference of melancholy within, felt especially in “The Wilderness Beyond,” an instrumental piece that chills to the bone.

Alright, so the gist of the sound put forth by Portrait has hopefully been established here: non-formulaic, honest-to-goat heavy metal purity with a twinge of evil tucked in for good measure, brimming with enough good guitar work to give you eargasms for hours. If that doesn’t sound appealing, then kindly FOAD. The end.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jodi Van Walleghem
September 19th, 2011


  1. Commented by: Chris

    Definite contender for album of the year. So much shredding

  2. Commented by: Jeff


    Sounds like Paul Stanley singing for a Mercyful Fate cover band…in a good way.

  3. Commented by: Cynicgods


    Check out In Solitude. Great King worship as well.

  4. Commented by: Grimulfr

    I made to the five minute mark on the first song.

  5. Commented by: elguerosinfe

    “Sounds like Paul Stanley singing for a Mercyful Fate cover band…in a good way.”

    This captures the album perfectly. I still don’t like it though. For me, some of the other neo-satanic rock bands have done a better job of capturing the evil spirit of MF and KD.

  6. Commented by: Jeff

    I think it sounds derivative and nostalgic, but in a fresh way that makes me happy.

  7. Commented by: Biff_Tannen

    I like this album, but prefer the debut overall.

    I absolutely do not get the Paul Stanley thing, though. Dude sounds nothing like that greaseball to me.

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