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Mark Hunter (Chimaira) talk about Mercyful Fate.

Twenty one years ago,a band from Copenhagen released a self-titled, four-song debut EP (commonly referred to as Nuns Have No Fun) on a tiny Dutch indie,Rave On Records.The music was so devastating that bands would continue to mimic their trend-setting style two decades later.Throughout the course of career,Mercyful Fate has released brutal metal records,broken up,reconvened,released more brutal records,and outdone themselves each and every time.
It is not only fitting that a truly best of Mercyful Fate album is finally being released,but it is also imperative,and long overdue. I first heard King Diamond when I was 8 years old.A friend of mine played the Abigail record for me and we had a good chuckle at how high the singer´s voice was.Making comments like,"He must have been kicked in the balls a lot!"Joking aside,I was in love with the music.My ears were opened to a new style of metal...
the King metal.I bought Abigail right away and could not stop listening to it.I craved more from this demonically-painted guy who sang about grue-some infant burials and all kinds of evil based on the depravity and folklore of the 18th century.His macabre appearance and the twisted content of the music had to have stemmed from something even more frightening.I did some homework on the King and discovered he,in fact,did have an even gloomier and more enticing past: Mercyful Fate.
My favorite songs are the traditional Fate classics.This is, however,the majority of their catalog because most of the songs are classics in the eyes of any metalhead.Even so, it is most appropriate to start at the beginning with the aforementioned EP,which Roadrunner later aquired and reissued in an expanded collection called The Beginning.The first two tracks,"Doomed By The Living Dead"and"A Corpse Without Soul"have pure thrash and ripper solos right from the get go.
What better way to pulverize your listener then jumping straight into the technicality of both.It´s the beauty of classic rock with the brutality of Danish black metal,harmoniously balanced to a perfect new creation.Heavy metal divinity was born.The Nuns Have No Fun EP,with its gruesome cover art portraying a nun getting burned at the cross,proved that you could bang your head,pound your fist and play air guitar-all while getting your daily dose of the devil.
What more could a metalhead ask for? Mercyful Fate´s answer came in the form of a new record,Melissa. Melissa,Fate´s first full-length album was released just one year later in 1983 and it unleashed a new kind of black metal fury on the world.Not to be outdone by other black metal lords like Venom and Mayhem,Mercyful Fate truly showcased their talent in songs like"Satan´s Fall" and"Into the Coven," the later of which opens with a Skynyrd-esque blues-rock jam before tearing into a gallop riff
recreating the sound of a knight heading into a joust,adding a medieval tone and feeling to the song.This is done in typical Fate fashion,demonstrating the diversity and flexibility of their skill,also making it my all time favorite Fate track.Similarly, when you listen to "Satan´s Fall," you are inundated by riff after amazing riff.You are completely engulfed in a whirlwind of tempo changes before your ears are briefly smoothed then immediately shattered by the ups and
downs of the chord progressions and key changes.All in, it is an 11-minute epic monster of pure heavy metal wizardry.This type of epic metal was unheard of amidst the one hundred and twenty second, cut-and-burn slashings of Venom´s tunes.While Mayhem were busy burning churches and murdering each other and Venom were hard at work not taking their image seriously, Mercyful Fate swooped in and mopped the floor with both of them,sonically and aesthetically.
"A Dangerous Meeting" and "Gypsy" from the second full-length Don´t Break The Oath (1984) are further examples of the incredible musicianship and killer riffs that are hallmarks for Mercyful Fate.Seemingly trying to outdo themselves,most of songs from this album are even more technical! In addition,King developed a much wider range and strength in his vocals that greatly helped transcend Mercyful Fate into their own beast-combining a unique hybrid of thrash,doom,black and power metal.The attitude and
progressively darker thematic elements of the lyrics also paved the way for King´s eventual solo career and his ultimate desire - the concept album. Bands past and present have learned from King Diamond´s lyrical styling and the musicianship of Hank Shermann and Michael Denner, and most importantly, the unique style that the entire band created together.Fate´s music is a central for the creation of all sounds metal.Bands have stolen,borrowed, mimicked, copied and covered everything that
Mercyful Fate ever offered them.It is obvious when you listen to Fate just who has and has not been influenced by some aspect or element of their music.Who has? Cradle of Filth, Slayer, Metallica and Danzig to name a few.Who hasn´t? Maybe Britney, she´d probably be scared. There are countless other songs that could be discussed here but I felt it best to limit my choices to those songs that have truly been an inspiration to me in some way.And while Mercyful Fate and King Diamond never drove me to
salute the almighty Diabolous,they opened my eyes to some interesting stories and ideas of centuries past,as well as helped to make me the musician that I am today.Their music gave me ideas that helped develop my own creativity in playing guitar.As a lyricst,King helped me learn how to write songs and as a vocalist,King´s power and range prompted me to push the limits of my own vocal abilities.King could growl like the best death metal singer,soar higher then any power metal singer could dream of,
and his approach at just singing tenor instead of falsetto could make any beginning just want to hang up their hat knowing that their skills would never come close. Without Fate there would be no black metal, there wouldp be no Metallica,and there probably would not be countless bands gearing up in corpse paint.Metal would not be the same.(Top)hat off to the epitome of true metal....Mercyfuk Fate. And now,put your sleeveless jean jacket back on,raise your devil horns,turn up your stereo and
enjoy The Best Of Mercyful Fate. ~ ~ Mark Hunter (Chimaira) ~ ~

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