Saturday, July 4, 2009

Mercyful Fate to mount a new comeback? Let's hope so...

I never intended to just repost news on this blog, but I think this is the most exciting thing to happen in mainstream metal in a long time.  I touched on the subject briefly in my Rock Band post, but let me relay the rest of the story from King Diamond's official website:

Late last year, our old pal Lars Ulrich approached King Diamond and asked him if he would like to submit a Mercyful Fate song to the new Guitar Hero: Metallica game. King was all over it, and Lars suggested that he submit Evil and Curse of the Pharaohs. Sounds kinda cool, right? Mercyful Fate on a Guitar Hero game? Well, the story is just beginning...

The two songs Lars suggested were, of course, off their first record, Melissa, from 1983. King called up Hank Shermann, founding member of Mercyful Fate, to ask if he had any idea where the master tapes were. King talked to their old label Roadrunner, and Hank called up the old owner of the studio in Denmark where they recorded Melissa. No one had any idea where they were. So King, being the crucial motherfucker he is, devised an elegant solution. He, along with Hank Shermann, would get the band back together to rerecord Evil and Curse of the Pharaohs.

They called Michael Denner who was in right away. The band then asked Timi Hansen, and despite claims that he hadn't really played at all since the first Mercyful Fate reunion in 1993 he was all in. Deciding not to ask original drummer Kim Ruzz, who's kind of been a mystery to the band and the fans since the old days, King and Hank invited Bjarne T. Holm. Bjarne played on the last three Mercyful Fate records, and was almost in the band back in 1981. So, with this line up the band recorded the music and sent it off to Activision.

Evil was the song selected for the game, but since the band was so pleased with how the recordings came out, they are going to release both songs on iTunes and, according to King and Hank's official websites, a picture disc 7 inch.  Judging from the Guitar Hero mixes of Evil, the new recording is really tight, way more aggressive than the original, and, of course, way better produced.  And there is no reason to think Curse will be any different.

Kings falsettos are a little flat, but it's good to remember just how fucking high he sang in those old days.  Listeners may also find his vocals a little unfamiliar because of the way he's prefered to mix them of late.  Since the latest King Diamond record, he has preferred to compress them as little as possible and keep the EQ as flat as possible.  In the 80's they would squash the vocals flat and cut out all the low frequencies, making his falsettos particularly ear-piercing.  The effect of this new approach creates a more natural sound, for better or for worse.  If you don't understand what I'm talking about that's fine, you can ignore this paragraph.

Now, it's very hard for me to keep the MF fanboy that lives inside me calm and subdued, but it has been ten years since this band has done anything. And it isn't as though they peetered out like Black Sabbath in the 90's or Megadeth in 2001. Mercyful Fate's 7th and last studio album, 9 (1999), was arguably their best, and definitely their heaviest, record. They were still at their creative peak.  The only thing really keeping them from working was the fact that the King Diamond band could record for free at Andy LaRocque's studio while Mercyful Fate had to pay.

Mercyful Fate was a victim of circumstance, and while I still love the King Diamond band, and their new records are outstanding, there is a gaping whole in my life that is partially being filled by this new development. I ultimately hope that this project drums up enough interest for a new reunion and hopefully a new record. It's a stretch but I still say that even this small chance of new Mercyful Fate material is far more exciting than a new Megadeth, Slayer or even Black Sabbath (Heaven and Hell my ass) record.

Get King's full account of the story here. The songs will be available from iTunes on July 14th and the picture disc is set to be released September 1st. Everyone needs to buy this shit so we can show the band, Metal Blade Records or any other label that WE WANT A NEW MERCYFUL FATE RECORD! Hell, if you are motivated enough, write an email to Metal Blade telling them to resign the band and get them in the studio as soon as possible.

I'll finish off by posting the 2008 rerecording of Evil, as well as the video for Egypt, from their 1993 comeback record In The Shadows.