Mercyful Fate is a Danish heavy metal band from Copenhagen, formed in 1981 by vocalist King Diamond and guitarist Hank Shermann. Influenced by progressive rock and hard rock, and with lyrics dealing with Satan and the occult, Mercyful Fate were part of the first wave of black metal in the early to mid-1980s. Many of the bands from this movement went on to influence later black metal musicians in the 1990s, particularly in Norway.
Melissa is the group's debut studio album, released in October 1983. It was the first album released by Roadrunner Records, and was also the first Mercyful Fate effort to get an official release in the United States through Megaforce Records, as the self-titled EP was a highly sought-after import, and the BBC sessions were only available on bootleg tapes. Some of the material on the album had its roots in demos recorded when the musicians were members of the underground bands Black Rose and Brats; "Curse of the Pharaohs," which was originally titled "Night Riders" on an old Brats demo, was retitled after King Diamond changed the lyrics originally written by the Brats bassist; "Love Criminals," actually the first song Mercyful Fate ever wrote, was renamed "Into the Coven," which was originally meant to be the title of the album, too. The album also contains "Satan's Fall," which, as Michael Denner recalls, took ages to learn and elicited an eerie feeling the few times he heard it. Hank Shermann wrote the music for this song, which was composed during many sleepless nights on his unplugged guitar in his living room. The band kept rehearsing the song for a long time in its unfinished form, as Shermann continuously added new parts. According to Denner, there are about sixteen different riffs in "Satan's Fall," which was the band's longest song with a running time over 11 minutes, until the band released Dead Again, on which the title track is 13 minutes long.
Mercyful Fate's debut album, Melissa, took Black Sabbath's dark occult obsessions to an extreme, fusing them with the speed and tightened, twin-guitar riffing attack of British metal bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. But the band had a distinctive sound of its own, thanks to the neo-classical flourishes of guitarists Hank Shermann and Michael Denner and the unpredictable vocal leaps of King Diamond, who could jump from a deathly growl to an unearthly falsetto wail in the next line.
- Yellow with Black Streaks Vinyl
- Curse of the Pharaohs
- Into the Coven
- At the Sound of the Demon Bell
- Black Funeral
- Satan's Fall