King Diamond with Exodus

Two underground metal greats from the '80s share the stage at the Warfield Monday night when iconic vocalist King Diamond performs his classic album Abigail with local thrash legends Exodus opening the show.

One of the most influential metal vocalists to emerge after the 1970s when he first came to fame fronting Danish band Mercyful Fate, King Diamond would rise to even greater success with the horrifying concept albums he delivered with his eponymous band.

With a voice that ranged from a guttural growl to a soaring falsetto and his sinister, corpse-painted visage, Diamond and Mercyful Fate were pioneers of early black metal thanks to the anthems heard on the band's seminal albums Melissa and Don't Break the Oath. Those records would influence Metallica (who recorded a medley of Fate's best tunes on their Garage Inc. covers album), Slayer and a host of extreme metal bands that would follow in their wake.

When the group split up over artistic differences in 1985, Diamond formed his eponymous band and went on to explore a more storytelling approach with horror concept efforts Abigail, "Them," and The Puppet Master. Always a menacing figure live with his upside-down bone cross mic stand (made from an actual human femur and tibia), King Diamond upped the theatrics by introducing more elaborate stage craft, including costumed actors and illusionist tricks to flesh out his dark, gothic visions when performing.

Diamond had a major health scare a few years ago when he underwent triple-bypass surgery, but the singer eventually made his first post-operation return to the stage in 2011, performing a medley of Mercyful Fate hits with longtime admirers Metallica and old Fate bandmates Hank Shermann, Michael Denner, and Timi Hansen during Metallica's 30th anniversary shows at The Fillmore.

Last year, Diamond and his band embarked on their first full tour of the U.S. in a decade to ecstatic audiences before joining Slayer this past summer as part of the Rockstar Mayhem Festival. For the current jaunt, the singer and company will be performing the classic Abigail album in its entirety along with other solo hits and Mercyful Fate tracks.

The tour also features support from pioneering Bay Area thrash-metal titans Exodus. Formed in 1980 by future Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett -- who would leave the band a couple years later when invited to replace Dave Mustaine -- and drummer Tom Hunting, Exodus established a reputation as a ferocious live act with its regular appearances around the Bay and is cited by some as the first thrash band in the region.

While the band's crushing 1985 debut Bonded By Blood was delayed by label troubles, it quickly became a standard by which future thrash releases would be measured. Though sonically not as refined as Metallica's first effort, songs like "Metal Command" and "A Lesson in Violence" showcased the breakneck tempos and tandem/dueling guitar solos from Gary Holt and Rick Hunolt that became part of the thrash-metal template.

The departure of original Exodus lead singer Paul Baloff after the album came out could have derailed the band, but the addition of Steve "Zetro" Souza -- who was the vocalist for Testament precursor Legacy -- ushered in the most popular line-up of the band for such classic efforts as Pleasures of the Flesh and Fabulous Disaster during the late '80s.

The following decade found the band struggling amid grunge's rise in popularity with Exodus eventually disbanding in 1993. The group would reunite with Baloff later in the decade for shows and a live album, but the band again fell silent until regrouping for the historic 2001 Thrash of the Titans benefit concert for Testament singer Chuck Billy and Death founder Chuck Schuldiner (both men were undergoing cancer treatment at the time).

The concert brought together a who's who of thrash metal greats from the Bay Area and elsewhere for a full day of music, served as a catalyst that spurred the reunion of Testament, Exodus and Death Angel. All three seminal thrash acts have continued to put out vital new albums ever since. When Baloff died of a stroke the following year, Souza rejoined Exodus for live performances and the band eventually released their 2004 album Tempo of the Damned

An acrimonious parting of the ways with Souza led to Exodus recording and touring extensively with replacement Rob Dukes for nearly a decade, but last year the band announced that the singer was returning to the group. The band's latest effort Blood In, Blood Out has been praised by many critics as a return to form for the band. Though Holt's continuing commitments with Slayer have kept the band's principle songwriter out of the picture, Exodus has maintained a hefty tour schedule of its own with Kragen Lum (a guitarist who has played with Heathen) filling in.

King Diamond with Exodus
Monday, Nov. 2, 8 p.m. $36.50-$55
The Warfield