Mercyful Fate - _9_
(Metal Blade, 1999)
by: Paul Schwarz (
There has been a lot said about _9_ and views of it have to a reasonable extent been quite highly polarised, with long-time fans both liking and hating it in varying quantities. I myself don't feel overwhelmingly positive or negative about Mercyful Fate's most recent full-length. Admittedly, it is far more in their classic vein, and thus for me more enjoyable, than the recent likes of _Dead Again_ and _Into the Unknown_, but it is still nothing to match the likes of _Don't Break the Oath_ or _Melissa_, as some seem to have suggested. The speed-driven guitar wreckage of "Last Rites", "House on the Hill" or "Insane" prove that Sherman and Diamond still have more than enough left in them to write powerful thrash songs with Mercyful Fate's distinctive signature, and when Diamond's vocals are dynamically highlighted by soft acoustic or melodic guitar on such tracks as "Church of Saint Anne" or "Buried Alive", it is also evident that this aspect of Mercyful Fate's distinctive style, which infused the likes of "Come to the Sabbath" with such power, has neither lost its importance nor effect. However, tracks like "Sold My Soul" or "The Grave" are nothing above lacklustre when compared to classic Mercyful Fate and, as with the closing title track, show their weakness through their repetitive and predictable structures. What it comes down to is that _9_ is but a pale reflection of classic Mercyful Fate, but a pale reflection of classic Mercyful Fate still makes for a listenable and varied album. For Mercyful Fate fans who crave more quantity, even if the quality is not up to previous standards.
(article published 12/9/1999)
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