2. Curse of The Pharaohs*
3. Into The Coven*
4. At The Sound Of The Demon Bell
5. Black Funeral
6. Satan’s Fall ^
Mercyful Fate is a surprisingly influential heavy metal band considering they only had two albums during their original run: 1983’s Melissa and 1984’s Don’t Break The Oath . While both albums are received well among music circles, it is easy to see that Melissa is the more accessible and more appreciated. Aside from “A Corpse Without A Soul,” Metallica’s Mercyful Fate medley is entirely comprised of songs off of this album in particular. This was their first full-length effort, the world’s introduction to falsetto enthusiast King Diamond and a key element in bringing black metal to the masses.
From the opening riffs of “Evil,” you know that you are in for something special. The track is five-minutes of Maiden-esque heavy metal and it is clear to see where Metallica got some of their Ride The Lightning/Master of Puppets influence. The track showcases the band’s huge talent on all fronts and is one of the album’s best songs. The next track “Curse Of The Pharaohs” is also a keeper, although a tiny bit short. As intense as I thought the staccato punch of the triplet guitar riff was, I wish the track added an extra minute or so because I loved the direction it was heading toward.
To me, the highlight of the album is definitely “Into The Coven,” a song included on the PMRC’s Filthy Fifteen for its references to occultism. King Diamond’s vocal range has never been utilized in such a perfect way; his high notes are nothing short of perfect. The guitar work in the song is also the best of the album, from its acoustic/harmonizing intro to its heavy metal chorus chugging. With the amount of skill involved, this number must be nearly impossible to pull off live.
While the first three tracks are the best that the band has to offer on this album, the rest of the songs prove to be catchy and memorable as well. “At The Sound Of The Demon Bell” moves at a slow tempo and moves along with a highly addictive rhythm and includes one of the best riffs on the album about two minutes in. On the other hand, “Black Funeral” trudges along at a comparatively brisk tempo and much darker undertones and themes. And finally “Melissa” brings the album to a delightful, yet creepy close with its alternating dynamics and fine musicianship.
The weak link for me is “Satan’s Fall,” which clocks in at over eleven minutes in length. I do not have a problem with lengthy songs, but in this case, my problem is that it is eleven minutes that never lead up to anything particularly special. It is not a bad song, but compared to all the other great tracks on the album, it is easy to see that this one stands out. And not in a good way.
If you cannot already tell from the rest of my review, I enjoyed Melissa for most of the way through. I have nothing but respect for these guys for the contributions they made in paving the way for artists like Metallica and Slayer. Melissa showcases Mercyful Fate’s talents at their absolute best and includes most of their best songs. The album is very much worth its price and worth a listen or two.