Melissa (Mercyful Fate album)
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Original LP cover art. In later pressings the orange colour is replaced with red.
|Studio album by Mercyful Fate|
|Released||October 30, 1983|
|Recorded||Easy Sound Recording, Copenhagen, Denmark, July 1983|
|Genre||Heavy metal, Black metal|
Music for Nations (UK)
|Mercyful Fate chronology|
Melissa is the debut studio album by the Danish heavy metal band Mercyful Fate, released in 1983. It was the first album released by Roadrunner Records. In 2005 Roadrunner Records re-released this album with several bonus tracks and a bonus DVD. Music is credited to Hank Shermann and lyrics to King Diamond.
Recording and release
On July 18, 1983, Mercyful Fate started recording at Easy Sounds Studios in Copenhagen for the next 13 days with producer Henrik Lund, who was the co-owner of the studio along with his brother. The band asked Henrik to produce the album, and he was paid $1000 by the record company. Even though the band had more time than when they did the first EP, time was precious and by chance, the band knew the songs very well before entering the studio and made it very quickly. They had to plan and calculate right as they had less than two weeks to record and mix the whole thing, so they really had not much time fooling around. It was an interesting challenge to prove to themselves they could do it. While Henrik was mixing the album, the band were not allowed in the room; they had to wait outside the door, leaving him alone. He then had to come out, telling the band to come in listening to the mix he just have done. Then, when the band had comments, like putting less guitar or whatever, they had to leave again, waiting outside the door once more, waiting for him to do another mix, then come in again with more comments; the band found it very irritating. On the other hand, as Hank now recalls, it was wise on his part because with experience, you realize that too many people in the mixing room is not a good idea because everybody wants their own instrument louder or whatever, and that's probably why Henrik wanted to be left alone doing the mixing. When came the time to do the lead vocals, Henrik found it pretty different from what he used to know, as King brought a little altar in the studio, and some red lights as there was a specific feeling he wanted to create. It was a little spooky, and at first, when Henrik heard the lyrics, he was quite perplexed about it. After talking with King, and seeing everything was so natural for King, it was fine. At that time, the label asked the band to do a cover song, so the band tried Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song. The band skipped it because they felt it was not working very well. According to Hank, King's vocals were very surprising; it came really close to Robert Plant, so much that you could trick a lot of people into thinking it was actually Led Zeppelin.
"Melissa", the first full-length album, was released November 26, 1983. It has been very well acclaimed by both fans and critics and quickly became a huge hit. This was also the first Mercyful Fate effort to get an official release in the United States, as the self-titled EP was a highly sought after import, and the BBC sessions were only available on bootleg tapes.
The track "Melissa" did not have vocals over a certain part of the song when the album was originally released. But when Roadrunner Records later re-released it, suddenly there were new vocals over the same segment. Also, the first version had a very thick reverb on the voice, whereas the second version had no such processing on the voice.
In December 1983, the "Black Funeral" single was released. It contained a B-Side called "Black Masses", which was recorded during the Melissa session, but had been deleted from the album. As the first song recorded for the Melissa session, the sound was not there so the track was reduced to a B-Side only.
Content and music
Some of the material on the album had its roots in even earlier demo recordings done during the Brats days, such as "Curse of the Pharaohs", which was originally titled "Night Riders" on an old Brats demo, but retitled after King changed the lyrics to it as the original lyrics were written by the Brats bassist. There was also "Love Criminals", which is actually the first song Mercyful Fate ever wrote, available for the first time on this album under the title "Into the Coven", which was originally meant to be the title of the album too. Also on this album, "Satan's Fall" which, as Michael recalls, took ages to learn and had this eerie feeling the few times he heard it. As usual, Hank did the music for this song, and most nights, he would get out of bed and go into his living room, sit there with his Stratocaster and compose. The band kept rehearsing it each time he added something until finally the song stopped, but as it always opened new doors, it always still grew more and more. According to Michael, there are about sixteen different riffs, and this was the band's longest song with a running time over 11 minutes (at least until the band released "Dead Again", on which the title track is 13 minutes long).
In December 1983, Mercyful Fate was booked to support Ozzy Osbourne in Copenhagen, but due to an illness on Ozzy's part, the show was canceled. Later that same month, the band performed a headline show in Copenhagen as preparation for their upcoming European tour.
The European tour started in Holland on January 19, 1984 at The Dynamo, in Eindhoven. The next day, they performed a set at The Countdown Cafe in Hilversum, which was broadcast live on Dutch national radio. On January 21, they performed in Amsterdam, at The Paradiso Theatre, where the skull of Melissa had been stolen from the altar on stage by a fan due to very incompetent local security. Then the band went touring Italy on February, where they performed 6 shows, and on the following March 3, they started their UK tour supporting Manowar. Originally, 11 shows were booked, but it turned out that Mercyful Fate would only play one. That first and only show was taking place at St. Albans City Hall in Hertfordshire. When Mercyful Fate's crew arrived at the venue with their equipment at 2:00pm as agreed, Manowar's tour manager told them to leave the gear in the street until Manowar were finished with their soundcheck. At 7:30pm, they were finally allowed to bring in their equipment, leaving them only 30 minutes to do so; the doors opened at 8:00pm. Then, when the show started, Mercyful Fate was told that they could only perform for 25 minutes, as opposed to the 45 minutes that they were guaranteed. Upon taking the stage, the band realized that their sound-engineer was denied access to the soundboard, naturally resulting in a terrible sound. At a certain point in the set, Manowar's sound-engineer began playing around with Mercyful Fate's sound. Then, after taking enough; they had no option but to demand some drastic changes if the tour was to go on. Even though Mercyful Fate's demands were backed up by their common record company, Manowar refused to comply. This forced Mercyful Fate to leave the tour and at a great financial loss to themselves, not to mention the great despair of their British fans.
On April 5, the band played a sold out headline show at Saltlageret, in Copenhagen. There, for the first time, they were able to present their new chapel; a fantastic stage set in which the band had invested a lot of their earnings in their never ending quest to deliver the ultimate show for the fans. Then on April 30, they began to work on the next release for the next 19 days, once again at Easy Sounds Studios. On June 10, the band performed at the prestigious Heavy Sounds Festival in Poperinge, Belgium. Beside Mercyful Fate, the bill also featured Motörhead, Twisted Sister, Metallica, Barón Rojo, Lita Ford, H-Bomb and Faithful Breath.
It was in 1984 that Mercyful Fate first met the guys of Metallica, with whom they stayed very good friends since then. It all began when Metallica, while recording some of their album in Copenhagen, borrowed from Mercyful Fate amplifiers and other equipment.
A re-recorded version of "Evil" is featured in the video game Guitar Hero: Metallica.
|2.||"Curse of the Pharaohs"||3:57|
|3.||"Into the Coven"||5:11|
|4.||"At the Sound of the Demon Bell"||5:23|
|25th Anniversary edition bonus tracks|
|8.||"Black Masses" (Outtake)||4:31|
|9.||"Curse of the Pharaohs" (BBC Radio 1 Session)||3:52|
|10.||"Evil" (BBC Radio 1 Session)||4:02|
|11.||"Curse of the Pharaohs" (Demo)||4:26|
|12.||"Black Funeral" (Demo)||2:54|
25th Anniversary edition DVD track listing
Live at Dynamo, Eindhoven, Holland 1983
- "Doomed by the Living Dead"
- "Black Funeral"
- "Curse of the Pharaohs"