Review Summary: Satanism, screeching vocals and a story about a young girl named Melissa all come together to make a solid debut album.
If there is only one clear thing to take away after listening to Melissa
it is that Mercyful Fate love Satan. No joke, these guys sound like true worshipers of the Dark Lord(no, not Voldemort). Every song has several references to him, and not in a derogatory fashion either. Here it sounds close to hero worship. I find this a tad amusing, considering that this album was released a full four years before Slayer's masterpiece Reign in Blood
. Previously I was under the impression that RIB had the most Satanic references, but I guess that just goes to show my ignorance.
However, there is one very important difference between Slayer's satanism and Mercyful Fate's satanism. Slayer, for the most part, makes their songs on Satan pretty disturbing and horrifying. Mercyful Fate on the other hand made me giggle and laugh to myself at every demonic reference. Don't get me wrong though, I actually enjoyed that aspect if this album.For once it was interesting to laugh at satan worship instead of finding it slightly creepy. The main reason for my bemusement was that I could never take Diamond's satanic lyrics seriously, possibly because he insists on singing them in an incredibly high falsetto for half the album.
This was actually impressive from time to time. One moment he would be singing in a normal tone and then, out of nowhere he would erupt into a high pitched wail. I have to credit his talent as a vocalist here, but I also have to admit that I found it hysterical in places.
But enough about King Diamond's occasionally side splitting singing, what about the rest of the band? For the most part they do a pretty good job. Kim Ruzz drums at an excellent pace, but at times fails to stand out. He sadly slips into generic mode every once and a while and brings the song down a bit. This is especially apparent during some of the lengthy instrumental sections, most of which drag on a bit. As for guitarist Hank Shermann and Michael Denner and bassist Timi Hansen, they all perform quite nicely. Many songs open with some great riffs and will contain some excellent, if over long guitar solos.
However, I must admit I was surprised by just how close to hard rock, instead of metal,the band sounded. For a metal album, the band strikes a sound a little to close to AC/DC for my liking. I don't necessarily have anything against AC/DC, but that isn't exactly the style you want to go for if you want to be taken seriously as a metal band. I also could not shake the feeling throughout that Mercyful Fate was still trying to find a consistent, distinct sound. I am not really going to fault them too much for that though. Melissa
was their first album, and as far as first albums go, this one ain't bad.
In closing, Melissa
may not be a fantastic album. The satanist content and King Diamond's screeching create unintentional humor, the band sounds a but too much like 80s hard rock and the group sounds like they are still trying to find a consistent sound. Yet despite all this I found Mercyful Fate's first album to be an enjoyable listen. For all his shrieking,Diamond delivers some killer vocals. There are also some excellent guitar riffs and moments of intense drumming. Plus, for all their hilarity, the Satan espousing lyrics aren't all that bad. Not too shabby for a Devil loving debut album.