Review Summary: My favourite Mercyful Fate album as well as one of my favourite metal albums. Introduction
Heavy metal was infamous for its dark lyrical tones. Even in the beginning with Sabbath, people were incredibly offended by the band's occasional employment of occult lyrics. They were often accused of Satanism because of it, and, even though they denied it multiple times, the rumours persisted. Even later bands were persecuted by outsiders of the genre for perceived Satanism (Iron Maiden, for example).
Mercyful Fate took the genre's dark lyrical themes a step further. Their debut album, Melissa, touched on a variety of occult topics, including witchcraft and sacrifice. This made the band incredibly controversial, landing them on the PMRC's filthy fifteen (a list of songs deemed by them to be the most offensive). Of course, as most fans know, King Diamond WAS an actual Satanist, which made their music seem that much more sinister.
Don't Break the Oath is Mercyful Fate's second studio effort, and my personal favourite.
I recall that the first song from the album I listened to was Come to the Sabbath. The mix of technical and fast riffs, King's dynamic voice, and the lyrical atmosphere stuck instantaneously, and I found myself listening to the song over and over again.
King Diamond's voice was probably the first thing that appealed to me. I am a fan of Rob Halford, so naturally I was pleased with King Diamond's use of falsetto. His voice, however, possessed a more sinister quality than Halford's did.
Another highlight of the band are the guitars. The guitarists appear to have some sort of telepathic communication going on while they are playing. Well, what I mean to say is that they play extraordinarily well together. The songs alternate between blistering solos and majestic guitar riffs. There is not a song on this album that I do not find appealing in this manner.
The bassist plays well and the bass is audible, but I think the central members are Diamond and the guitarists.
However, the drumming is, in my opinion, less than exceptional. Some bands have very noticeable and memorable drumming, but not Fate. Their drummer functions more as background noise - reinforcing the riffs of the song, filling a musical gap that would be left without drums.
Individual Song ratings
1. A Dangerous Meeting - One of my favourites from the album. Great chorus. 5/5
2. Nightmare - Another good song, but it feels somewhat lacking and can feel repetitive as well. Nonetheless, there is a great instrumental section about midway into the song that works well. 4/5
3. Desecration Of Souls - Another of my awesome track. Unlike the other songs, most of this song is sung with King's lower register, but he hits some great notes in the chorus. Amazing opening solo. 5/5
4. Night Of The Unborn - Once again, an awesome song. This time, my favourite part is the ending solo. King Diamond's vocals really shine on this song. 5/5
5. The Oath My favourite from the album. One of the best songs I have ever heard. Powerful, dynamic, technical, and heavy, it is my favourite Mercyful Fate song without a doubt. King Diamond's vocals are at their best in this song.
6. Gypsy - Good song, but it doesn't compare to its predecessor. Another great opening riff, but my interest dwindles a little as the song gets further in. 4/5
7. Welcome Princes Of Hell - My least favourite opening riff, I was initially a little disappointed, but the song quickly picks up afterwards and becomes one of my favourites on the album. 5/5
8. To One Far Away - A solemn, short, but nonetheless interesting instrumental. 5/5
9. Come To The Sabbath - My second favourite Mercyful Fate song, and the one that got me into them. Another dynamic song that shifts tempo constantly. 5/5
My favourite of Fate's offerings. One of my favourite metal albums as well. One of the seminal albums in black metal as well as extreme metal, the album is more than just important to metal; it's a great listen as well.