Category: Mercyful Fate

Mercyful Fate – Don’t Break the Oath

ARTIST: Mercyful Fate             220px-MercyfulFateDBTO

TITLE:  Don’t Break the Oath

YEAR RELEASED: 1984

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: 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.

Mercyful Fate – Melissa

ARTIST: Mercyful Fate           220px-Melissa_album

TITLE:  Melissa

YEAR RELEASED: 1983

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Black Funeral

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Ask a discerning metalhead; he knows the album.

LINEUP: King Diamond, Hank Shermann, Michael Denner, Timi Hansen, Kim Ruzz

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Dark Danish metal band takes your fears about Satanic songs, and spits ‘em right back at ya, with riffs galore.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Ok, so the singer wears corpse paint. Ok, so there are songs called “Into the Coven”, “Black Funeral”, and “Evil” on the album, that doesn’t mean it’s going to cause your children to eat your soul, does it?

Mercyful Fate was a pioneer in black metal, but really took a lot of their sound by mixing metal with progressive rock – as they constructed long songs, concept albums and carried themes and characters through their songs. But ask any metal fan, the two big elements for the love of this band is the guitar work and Diamond’s voice.

Hank Shermann’s complicated riff construction and the playing by Shermann and Michael Denner influenced many a thrasher and death-metallers to come, while King Diamond’s voice is outrageously high, yet powerful – the total opposite of the death growl. It’s more of a banshee shriek, and it’s very fitting.

Metal fans worth their salt should have this. If you haven’t heard it, you will be surprised how many acts copped stuff from them.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The PMRC (remember them), put “Into the Coven” as one of their ‘Filthy Fifteen’, you know, for witchery, of course. But did they even get to “Black Funeral”? Did they not know it was a story? Ah, geez.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a B-side and a demo.

GRADE: A-: A couple songs linger on a bit too long – the epic suite is a bit too epic. However, you shouldn’t shy away from this.