Melissa (Mercyful Fate album)

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Melissa
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
Length 39:09
Label Roadrunner (Europe)
Music for Nations (UK)
Megaforce (USA)
Producer Henrik Lund
Mercyful Fate chronology
Mercyful Fate
(1982)
Melissa
(1983)
Don't Break the Oath
(1984)
Singles from Melissa
  1. "Black Funeral" / "Black Masses"
    Released: December 1983
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]
Martin Popoff 9/10 stars[2]
Sea of Tranquility 4/5 stars[3]

Melissa is the debut studio album by the Danish heavy metal band Mercyful Fate, released on October 30, 1983. It was the first album released by Roadrunner Records. This 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.[4]

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.

Content and music[edit]

Some of the material on the album had its roots in demoes 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;[5] "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 contains also "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.[6] 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.

Recording[edit]

On July 18, 1983, Mercyful Fate started recording at Easy Sounds Studios in Copenhagen with producer Henrik Lund,[5] who was the co-owner of the studio along with his brother. The band spent 13 days in the studio to record and mix the album.[6] The songs had been thoroughly arranged and rehearsed in advance to make the most of the limited time.[6] Lund, who had never produced a metal band before, mixed the album on his own, but accepted comments from the musicians on his different takes.[6][5] The band found this procedure very irritating but, in retrospect, Diamond understands "that he didn't want a bunch of amateurs hanging over his shoulder."[6] At that time, the label asked the band to do a cover song, so the band recorded Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song".[6] The band skipped it because they felt it did not fit very well with the lyrics and feel of the album.[6] According to Shermann, Diamond's performance was very surprising, because he sounded very close to Robert Plant's original vocals.[6]

Release[edit]

In December 1983, the "Black Funeral" single was released. It contained on the B-side the song "Black Masses", which was recorded during the Melissa sessions, but had been deleted from the album. It was the first song recorded in the initial session and the sound was not completely satisfying, so the track was reduced to a B-side only.[4][6]

Touring[edit]

On 3 December 1983, Mercyful Fate were 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.[7]

The European tour started in the Netherlands on January 19, 1984 at The Dynamo, in Eindhoven.[7] The next day, they performed a set at The Countdown Cafe in Hilversum,[7] which was broadcast live on Dutch national radio. On January 21, they performed in Amsterdam, at The Paradiso Theatre,[7] where the skull of Melissa was 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.[7] Originally, 11 shows were booked, but it turned out that Mercyful Fate would only play one.[7] That first and only show took place at St. Albans City Hall in Hertfordshire, where the main act crew did not leave Mercyful Fate time for a sound check and for properly set up their equipment. Manowar's sound engineer even tampered with Mercyful Fate's soundboard during their performance, which was reduced from 45 minutes to 25. Manowar refused to comply to Mercyful Fate and Roadrunner's request for better treatment, which forced the band to leave the tour with great financial loss to themselves, not to mention disappointment of their British fans.

On April 5, the band played a sold out headline show at Saltlageret, in Copenhagen.[7] 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.[7] Beside Mercyful Fate, the bill also featured Motörhead, Twisted Sister, Metallica, Barón Rojo, Lita Ford, H-Bomb and Faithful Breath.[8]

Various info[edit]

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.

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by King Diamond, all music composed by Hank Shermann.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Evil"   4:45
2. "Curse of the Pharaohs"   3:57
3. "Into the Coven"   5:11
4. "At the Sound of the Demon Bell"   5:23
Side two
No. Title Length
5. "Black Funeral"   2:50
6. "Satan's Fall"   11:23
7. "Melissa"   6:40

25th Anniversary edition DVD track listing[edit]

Live at Dynamo, Eindhoven, Holland 1983

  1. "Doomed by the Living Dead"
  2. "Black Funeral"
  3. "Curse of the Pharaohs"

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Huey, Steve. "Mercyful Fate Melissa review". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  2. ^ Popoff, Martin (1 November 2005). The Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal: Volume 2: The Eighties. Burlington, Ontario, Canada: Collector's Guide Publishing. ISBN 978-1-894959-31-5. 
  3. ^ Pierce, Ken. "Mercyful Fate: Melissa (remaster)". Sea of Tranquility.org. Retrieved 2014-05-11. 
  4. ^ a b Kaye, Don (1997). The Beginning (CD Booklet). Mercyful Fate. New York, USA: Roadrunner Records. RR 8771-2. 
  5. ^ a b c Kaye, Don (1997). "Mercyful Fate - Melissa". Melissa (CD Booklet). Mercyful Fate. New York, USA: Roadrunner Records. 168 618 113-2. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Decibel Hall Of Fame - No. 74 -Mercyful Fate Melissa". Decibel (78): 48–54. April 2011. Retrieved 2014-05-13. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h "Mercyful Fate Tour Dates". The Mercyful Fate / King Diamond F.A.Q. Retrieved 2014-05-13. 
  8. ^ "Heavy Sounds Festival - History". Heavy Sounds Festival Official Website. Retrieved 2014-05-13.