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Everyone can recall the first time they heard, played, or saw, a certain entry into a long running series. I’m no different. With Apoch’s Metal Review now in it’s fourth year, and I start to reflect on fourteen years of Metal intrigue, it felt appropriate to share the early days of my journey into the land of rebellion, frostbite, gore and unicorns by discussing some of my first experiences with my favorite bands in the day before instant internet gratification, when you had to physically search for and even wait to buy a physical pressing. This was before cable and DSL became standards, before the social networking boom, prior to the creation of Youtube, iTunes, and the Metal Archives. This is a look back at my first album from…

Mercyful Fate (Logo)

As I already mentioned in the “My First King Diamond Album” article, the main reason I discovered Mercyful Fate was when I learned these two groups were related. This realization actually came through a discovery at the local music store the owner confirmed for me. One of my first purchases was the split album between these two groups called A Dangerous Meeting, but after I learned in that same trip of how the two were linked, I went right back and used the additional allowance my father gave me to buy four of the five released albums, including the first one I ever heard by the group, Don’t Break the Oath.

Mercyful Fate: Don't Break the Oath

Sure, I also purchased their debut album Melissa, as well as In the Shadows and Time, but something just struck me about it as the album I should start with. But, then again, any album of the four would have been a great jumping on point. Each album really stands out as a great experience, and this one certainly solidified it. However, I’ll be the first to admit that jumping from one band to another, I was greatly let down that this group didn’t also have a concept behind each album. In a way, it actually put me off listening to the rest of them and had me exploring more after the initial spin with this release.

This isn’t to say I never went back, though. Don’t Break the Oath stood there on the hand-made in shop class CD rack, calling me, and many times I did answer that call. “Nightmare,” “Gypsy,” “Come to the Sabbath,” all fantastic songs that I would often skip forward to, though I did gradually start to find an appreciation for the entire album once that disapointment had passed. Of course, I didn’t really give this one the preferential treatment. I found Abigail to be just a bit stronger and loved throwing that in more, which offered up some familiar territory as well thanks to the monday Metal programming of the local college radio station and some of the songs they play.

In the Shadows was an interesting shift in the music, at least I thought. It was a catchier album with a different atmosphere that screamed at me a lot more than Don’t Break the Oath did surprisingly. “Egypt,” “The Bell Witch,” “Thirteen Invitations,” and my personal favorite by the band, “Is That You, Melissa” all adorn the album, and while a little more accessable, it still stands as my personal favorite. Time also introduced some great songs, like “Witches’ Dance,” “Lady in Black,” and “Mirror,” though, for some reason, I don’t really spend a lot of time with this one, even to this day.

What is really odd is that, up to this point, I rarely have spent time with A Dangerous Meeting. After picking up those four albums, I never really gave it much time, despite it being the first album I actually physically owned by the group. I’m not a big fan of compilations, which is really what this split was, and since I had bought all four and already had plenty of King Diamond‘s material, I felt it pointless to even open it, especially since I had the b-side material on this release thanks to owning all the Roadrunner Records gold disk remasters.

But, ever since my first taste of Mercyful Fate through the presentation of Don’t Break the Oath, I have been hooked. I own both the gold disk Roadrunner Remasters of this and Melissa, though both scuffed from the time I spent with them. I was glad that hearing King Diamond opened me up to this previously existing world that, chances are, I never would have experienced before. Unfortunately, back then, this was about all I could experience. The local music stores never carried Into the Unknown, which I only owned after ordering it on-line for a brief time before it was too damaged to play thanks to a friend dropping it and stepping on it, scratching the readable side beyond repair. To this day I haven’t replaced it, and I really don’t know why since it has many of my favorite Mercyful Fate songs on it like “The Uninvited Guest,” “Under the Spell,” and “Kutulu (The Mad Arab Part Two).”

I was there shortly after release date for Dead Again, but I wasn’t too fond of it. I held off for a while on 9 given the reviews it received, and after finally ordering it on-line used in 2003, I was glad I didn’t spend too much money on it. However, the hefty tag I paid for The Bell Witch EP earlier this year was definitely worth it. Unfortunately, Time and A Dangerous Meeting have also been lost from the collection at one point, both falling victim to great damage over the years, though I did replace the first at this point. I also remember owning Return of the Vampire, but no longer have it and don’t recall why.

While Don’t Break the Oath didn’t really do anything major for me outside of being a really good album, Mercyful Fate is still a band I spend a good amount of time with. It’s sad that they have been on hold now for quite a while, and it was nice hearing the 2009 versions of “Evil” and “Curse of the Pharaohs” that appeared on Guitar Hero: Metallica, but I wouldn’t be too let down if they called it a day honestly. There’s no denying the impact that this group had at the time, and even to this day. I’m proud to say that I managed to hear these albums, as well as still own them despite what condition they may be in. However, this is one band, to this day, I would love to own the vinyls of, and actually hear them as they originally entered the world moreso than these modern interpretations, especially Don’t Break the Oath

Mercyful Fate (band)Article based on physical material material provided by personal funds.