ARTIST: Mercyful Fate
TITLE: Don’t Break the Oath
YEAR RELEASED: 1984
CHART ACTION: None
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Fans of black metal, thrash and extreme metal know this as a touchstone record.
LINEUP: King Diamond, Hank Shermann, Michael Denner, Timi Hansen, Kim Ruzz
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Danish metal band’s second album consolidates their view and vision – lyrics about the occult coupled with a cross between prog and metal that evolved into its own genre.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: With all of the more extreme metal genres that followed this album, Don’t Break the Oath sounds a bit…tame…in comparison. But tame is very relative.
King Diamond’s falsetto shrieks are like nothing in metal’s history, while the guitar assault of Shermann and Denner add rifftastic sections to some elegantly progressive leads. They weren’t the fastest band, they weren’t the ‘heaviest’ band, nor the most ‘satanic’. Yet they had all of those elements and made into something that was their own.
Diamond emerges as the main songwriter and visionary here – he wrote two tracks on his own and collaborated with Denner on three others, with the rest collaborations between Diamond and Shermann. His voice and lyrics shape the band into something that sounds other-worldly.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Metal-Rules.com says this is the greatest extreme metal album of all time. It’s up there, depending on your definition (of course).
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: One bonus track on a re-release.
GRADE: A-: The band keeps things from being too repetitive, though a couple tracks go on just a bit too long. This is highly influential and recommended for any metal fan.