Mercyful Fate guitar lords Michael Denner and Hank Shermann have been busy buggers over the last year or so. I had the good fortune to get a review copy of their debut EP – ‘Satans Tomb’last September and loved it, now here we have their highly anticipated debut full length album ‘Masters Of Evil’ and it’s more of the same. And by ‘more of the same’ I obviously mean ‘more quality heavy metal’
For starters you’ve got the brilliant sleeve art by Swedish artist Thomas Holm, who’s also responsible for the previous EP artwork. The bloke is a dab hand with the ink and it’s easily as good as any Mercyful Fate sleeve.
The artwork isn’t where the similarities with the ‘Fate stop obviously. This is vintage early eighties era heavy metal with the emphasis on the awesome twin guitar work of Michael Denner and Hank Shermann. As I said in my review of the EP, these guys are up there with Smith & Murray with their harmonies and intertwining lead work. The production is great, not ‘super digital crystal clear’ but totally suits the vibe of this classic sounding metal.
The vocals of Sean Peck are a cracking blend of Rob Halford & John Cyriis and he gives a more confident and varied performance on this record than the EP. In fact the maturity of all the musicianship is obvious. The rhythm section of Snowy Shaw & Marc Grabowski is just as up front as the guitars and vocals. It’d be evident even if you didn’t know who was in the band that this isn’t a bunch of twenty-something ‘Johnny Come Latelys’ such is the quality on show which can only come from decades of toil.
The songs themselves are all top notch and the band are clearly bonding as songwriters. From the opening riff of ‘Angels Blood’ this is a true metal joyride. Hooks are everywhere and that wicked guitar tone echoes the ‘Fate classics of old, making this album feel instantly warm & familiar yet exciting and epic (The Pentagram & The Cross) all at once.
You don’t have to be a die-hard Mercyful Fate fan (but why aren’t you?) to get the most from it. If you like proper heavy metal then buy this record. I promise you won’t be emailing us for your money back.
(10/10 Mark Eve)