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Articles Home » 1983 Articles » Mercyful Fate - 1983 Melissa
Mercyful Fate - 1983 Melissa

ARTIST: Mercyful Fate
ALBUM: Melissa
LABEL: Music For Nations, Roadrunner
SERIAL: MFN-10, RR 9898
YEAR: 1983
CD REISSUE: 1990, Roadrunner, RR 9898-2 * 2005, Roadrunner, 168 618 116-2 (bonus tracks, DVD, remastered)


LINEUP: King Diamond - vocals * Hank Shermann - guitars * Micheal Denner - guitars * Timi Grabber - bass * Kim Ruzz - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Evil * 02 Curse Of The Pharaohs * 03 Into The Coven * 04 At The Sound Of The Demon Bell * 05 Black Funeral * 06 Satans Fall * 07 Melissa


This much revered metal classic was, the debut proper for Mercyful Fate following a self titled e.p. in 1982 The origins of the band go back to Denmark in the late 70's when King Diamond left Black Rose to join The Brats,which featured the trio of Shermann, Denner and Grabber. They soon split, with Diamond and Shermann forming their own untitled band as did Denner and Grabber, imaginatively naming themselves Danger Zone. The foursome reunited shortly after, this time under the Mercyful Fate banner. A succession of demos and compilation cuts ensued before the recording of their four track E.P. in 1982, which was enough for Roadrunner to snap Mercyful Fate up. At this point the band had moved into doom like heavy metal territory with harmless occult based lyrics and imagery, bought on mainly by Diamond's make up and stage antics involving skulls and coffins etc. 'Melissa' was metal of the most traditional variety, putting the band on the same European platform as Iron Maiden, who seemed somewhat tame opposed to this.

The Songs
Opener 'Evil' was an immediate favourite, introducing listeners to the hefty work of Shermann and Denner, a tandem in the same leagues as Tipton/Downing. The track moves into high gear around the four minute mark, with some sped up sections following a slower first half. For intensity purposes, this destroys what Judas Priest themselves were doing at the time. 'Curse Of The Pharaohs' was a track recorded in the earlier demo years, but now reaching its full potential with improved production, highlighting some frantic screaming from Diamond, perfecting his famed wail. 'Into The Coven' influenced a generation of black metal bands no doubt with its title alone, but with mentions of 'Lucifer' in the lyrics, furthered Fate's controversial stance. The menacing riffs that compound 'At The Sound Of The Demon Bell' haven't dated at all in twenty years, and this is conventional metal, with surging runs highlighted by double bass kicks from Ruzz. Close in style to Maidens 'Killers' album as a comparison. 'Satan's Fall' opens in true head-banging mode but drifts into 1974 era Priest mode in the middle before resuming its tirade into a sprawling eleven minutes, a consummate epic. The title track (named after a skull the band used on stage as a prop) could almost be considered sensitive, a much quieter moment than the onslaught which preceded this almost ballad, turning heavy near the end.

In Summary
In its own way this is primitive black metal, which has more overall effect than many of today's leaders. Many compared early Mercyful Fate to Venom, who musically were somewhat of a joke compared to the stomp of Diamond and co. Overall 'Melissa' is heavy metal in its purest form, regardless of the 'satanic' influence, which became a stale albatross around metal's neck, seemingly to this day. Amazingly for a band as influential as MF, only one more album appeared in their prime, 1984's 'Don't Break The Oath', again highly regarded but not quite as brutal or rough as 'Melissa'. Mercyful Fate split when Diamond resisted efforts from Shermann to turn Mercyful Fate into a commercial rock act in the Motley Crue vein (actually might have been worth a listen!). They did reform in the early 90's after Diamond's solo career had taken hold, but never regained the urgency of the 80's, only 1999's '9' nearing 'must hear' status. Mercyful Fate's existence is now on hold as Diamond continues his solo endeavours, hardly a bad thing as their legend was already sealed with 'Melissa'.

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#1 | aaasreg on September 12 2014 11:39:40
The drum sound, the breaks, the riffs, the overall sound is simply breathtaking. For every metalhead it's a duty to buy this album.
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