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Don't fear the demon dance
on May 18, 2004
Technically, Mercyful Fate's debut LP is slightly patchy and derivative, particularly of early Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, although in parts it is more ambitious than those bands' major works, in a `proggy' kind of way. It also sounds a bit dated in parts. In terms of originality, craftsmanship, instrumental prowess, and King Diamond's application of his unique and controversial voice and vocal range, it was comprehensively surpassed by Diamond's later solo classics (particularly Them, Conspiracy, and The Eye), and even by Mercyful Fate's 1993 reunion album, In The Shadows (although I prefer the more dynamic rhythm section on Melissa than those on The Eye or In The Shadows).
What puts this album in a supreme league of its own is a wickedly powerful aura that builds up throughout the album, which is something that no amount of musical training can achieve, and no review can adequately reflect. Reviewer `stevex3' gives us a taste when he says "I'm sure that this CD gets played at every gathering of demons," but you really cannot have any idea what that means unless you experience this album for yourself (preferably played loud in the dark), as different people will experience it differently, and will undoubtedly have a hard time explaining their experience.
You'll find a lot of people dismissing this album because of the overtly `Satanic' lyrics.
Firstly, I listen to music for its sonic qualities, rather than its lyrical content. If I am interested in philosophical ideas or stories I can always read a good book, watch a good film, or communicate with a person who has devoted his/her life to a particular field of thought. It's a good bonus when an artist that makes good music uses it to communicate thoughts and ideas that I can relate to, or are simply interesting, but good lyrics do not make good music, good music doesn't necessarily require any lyrics at all, and the voice can be used as a musical instrument without any lyrics at all. Really lame lyrics can sometimes compromise a great sonic experience, but only if they are sung in a way that makes their content really stick out. Fortunately for those who may be put off by the lyrics on Melissa, Diamond's extreme vocal acrobatics are such that very deliberate attention to the lyrical content is required to make out what he is saying.
Secondly, the `anti-Satanism' whiners seem to overlook the fact that Diamond is a THEATRICAL musician and vocalist. I can't speak for all the whiners, but I am amazed at how many of them are entertained by all sorts of shock and horror movies, or other representations of violent and/or racially and/or sexually degrading themes and images, yet they dismiss brilliant music because it conveys `Satanic'/evil tales or fantasies. Wake up and smell your thoughtless self-contradictions!
Thirdly, let's assume that at least some of the "Satanic' content on this album is an accurate expression of King Diamond's personal desires or convictions. As a person who relates strongly with the teachings of Christ, as distinct from the distortions of most subsequent leaders of organized Christianity, I find it very disturbing that many people have no problem facilitating religious, political and economic oligarchs who satisfy their greed and megalomania at the expense of the livelihood of millions, yet they cry outrage when some comparatively insignificant singer expresses his twisted imagination or fantasies on a record. Wake up and smell your hypocrisy!
Fourthly, any genuine opponent of `Satanic' ideas should benefit from informing himself/herself as to what these `Satanists' truly stand for and why, as distinct from what the media or your average Christian activist or passive Christian might suggest they stand for. Although I doubt that this album is very reflective of the band's true convictions, I do know that King Diamond subscribes to some `Satanic Bible' by Anton Lavey, which apparently does not propagate any Satanic WORSHIP, but is merely a critique of Christianity (something that I suspect should probably be blamed on the false prophets who dominate organized Christianity). Wake up and empower yourself!
Regardless of the lyrical content of this album, if you are an enthusiast for heavy and unique music you must experience it. It is one of the most powerful `underground' Metal albums ever.