Truth be told, 1983 seemed to be a banner year in terms of the number of incredible albums that came out. Especially if you were a fan of Heavy Metal music. If you don’t agree with me, just look at the wide and diverse span that we have already seen happening with Motley Crue’s “Shout At The Devil”, KISS’ “Lick It Up”, Def Leppard’s “Pyromania and that little debut from those guys in Metallica called “Kill ‘Em All”. Now it is time to add the debut by Mercyful Fate to the list as “Melissa” celebrates her thirtieth birthday. Now I will admit that while I was digging into my Metal a lot more at this point than I had a few years earlier, the stuff that Fate was doing kind of spooked me. Hey, just look at that sinister cover and you cannot tell me that King Diamond didn’t send a shiver up your spine when you first heard him belt out those insane falsetto notes. In 1983 I had been a KISS fan for years and was still coming to terms with their removing of the makeup and while I was digging what the Crue and Quiet Riot were up to, Mercyful Fate was a little too scary for me. At the moment at least. This viewpoint would change by the second album based on my own musical pursuits and then of course King Diamond would start a prolific solo career but I digress that I am getting a little ahead of myself here. Let’s discuss the overall “Melissa” album and what it did for the Metal genre of the day.
For those who were not paying attention, Mercyful Fate originally hailed from Denmark and featured a membership roster of Hank Shermann (guitars), Michael Denner (guitars), Kim Ruzz (drums), Timi Hansen (bass) and the notorious front man King Diamond. The bands premise was a sinister one and their songs spoke about dark realms and Satanic goings on and many other things that would make you be just that much more afraid of the dark and anything that went bump in the night. Released by Roadrunner Records the album opened with “Evil” which had a lot of clever riffing and odd time signatures in the rhythm sense while the King sought to break glass with his soaring falsetto or chill you to the bone with the eerier side of his voice. This was followed by “Curse Of The Pharaohs”, a tune that dealt with Middle Eastern sorcery and featured other standouts like “Black Funeral” and its title track “Melissa”; The latter of which was both a sorrowful and vengeful lament to a persecuted witch by either an acolyte or a lover. It was intense and as I had already admitted, I did NOT like this stuff the first time I heard it. Looking back on that I have to laugh at my lack of bravery in my youth but sorry there were some overly Satanic theories being presented here and I was not interested in having to explain anything to my folks. Remember this is the way back time when there was no Facebook or Twitter to help you communicate with similar minds and you mostly had those around your immediate zone to discuss music interests. The fans who were into the Mercyful Fate stuff were the diehard Metal heads to me back then and the ones that worse denim vests over leather jackets with the pentagram patches or other sinister hoodoo that has since long become almost fashionable attire in any Metal fans wardrobe.
2. Curse of the Pharaohs
3. Into the Coven
4. At the Sound of the Demon Bell
5. Black Funeral
6. Satan’s Fall
That said this is a very important release for the more Extreme Metal side and honestly to listen to it so many years later there are a lot of hints of Black Sabbath and Judas Priest in some of the riffs if you listened close enough. I did eventually get into the band a lot more and even played “Black Funeral” as a cover in one of my bands for awhile. I did realize what I was missing on this first one by the time its follow up “Don’t Break The Oath” came out (and that one had some stellar tracks in “A Dangerous Meeting” and “Come To The Sabbath”) so I guess I can say I have dabbled in the darker side of Metal for a little longer than I realized after all. What were your first thoughts when you got your hands on this one? Were you a fan immediately or did it come to you later? If you are a younger fan of the Metal how has this release impacted or influenced your own genre preferences? The comments are open for you to indulge me so please do.
A link below brings you to the remastered edition of the “Melissa” album and you will definitely want to add a physical copy to your music library if you don’t already own one. PiercingMetal reviewed the remaster HERE.