Saturday, November 19, 2011

Melissa: The Finest Moments of King Diamond & Mercyful Fate - Part 5 of 7

Is it possible to overstate the importance and impact of Melissa? Powerful, deceptively simple yet evil riffs surrounded by insanely complex song structures all delivered by a dual-guitar attack lay out a blueprint for not only the career of a now-legendary band but for any heavy metal that was to follow. Add in the vocals of the then-largely-unknown King Diamond and the game was forever changed. Melissa is damn-near perfect, bested only by its insane follow-up (but that's another post...)

Step back, if you can, clear your head and try to listen to "Evil" as if for the first time. You've never heard of this new band, Mercyful Fate, and want to give their first full-length album a try. God damn. I wish I could somehow go back to that point in my life and re-experience that initial spin.

"Curse of the Pharaohs" continues in the same chunky, riff-heavy vein with a nice mummy-related horror subject. It's with "Into the Coven," though, where Melissa gels and the listener is aware this is shaping up to be a classic album as atmosphere abounds. "At the Sound of the Demon Bell" and "Black Funeral" owe a debt, tonewise, to the almighty Black Sabbath (while the latter merges with the best elements of the NWOBHM) and firmly plant their flag in the realm of Hell but it's "Satan's Fall," a near-overwrought eleven-minute epic, that pulls out all the stops. Positively sickening with its multitude of riffage and soloing, it leaves this listener speechless every time.

Wrapping up with its namesake, "Melissa" is one song for which, for me, every listen does feel like the first time. It never fails to utterly captivate and serves as a clinic in how to create a ballad that is, regardless of tempo and acoustic elements, indisputably and entirely, wholly metal.

Melissa is exceptional documentation of the potential for creativity, the beauty within darkness and all-out power. Nearly thirty years on it still sounds fresh, exciting and, because it is the very ore from which so many bands' sounds have been crafted, Melissa can still stand up against any heaviness forged since its inception.

Up next: The Puppet Master

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