The 25 Best Metal Bands of All Time!

The 25 Best Metal Bands of All Time, #15: Mercyful Fate

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The 25 Best Metal Bands of All TimeMF 2003MetalSucks recently polled over a hundred of metal’s most revered musicians, critics, journalists, artists, publicists, and industry insiders to find out which 25 bands represent the very BEST in the history of metal. Today we continue the countdown with Copenhagen’s…

Mercyful Fate
31 Votes
419 Points

Mercyful Fate are the kind of band for whom the phrase “they sound like X but on steroids” was created. The group didn’t reinvent the wheel, exactly, so much as they took elements from the hard rock and metal music that had been created up ’til that time, and then cranked everything to eleven. You thought Rob Halford could really hit those high notes? Well, King Diamond’s pipes can shatter glass. You thought Iron Maiden were theatrical? Well, His Majesty looks like an evil clown who stole his wardrobe from a vampire that’s way into S&M. You thought Sabbath knew how to keep a guitar solo going forever? Hank Shermann laughs at Tony Iommi’s puny extended solos. You thought Diamond Head were evil? Their big song asks “Am I Evil?”, but the opening track on Melissa, “Evil,” leaves no room for doubt. You thought Venom wrote scary lyrics? “P’SHAW!” Mercyful Fate’s music seemed to taunt, “You ain’t heard nuthin’ yet.”

Of course, the band’s devotion to glorious excess wouldn’t mean squat if the band’s music didn’t rock. Luckily, Shermann was a songwriting ace who was seemingly born to pen arena hits with just that extra lil’ bit of snarl to them, and his lead style — fast, choppy, and melodic — probably influenced everyone who came after him as much as the dual guitar teams from Priest and Maiden. In fact, “Satan’s Fall” features what we would today be called “a Jeff Hanneman riff,” despite the fact that Melissa and Slayer’s debut, Show No Mercy, were released the same year, and some of his solos on Don’t Break the Oath hint at the unstructured insanity for which Hanneman and Kerry King’s leads would come to be known. Although King Diamond was always the undeniable star of the group — and the dude who went on to have the most successful solo career — what made Mercyful Fate Mercyful fuckin’ Fate was the special chemistry between Diamond and Shermann.

Today, Mercyful Fate are often cited as proto-black metal, probably because of King Diamond’s corpse paint as much as anything else. And they clearly made an impact on the earliest thrash bands, too — but it might be more accurate to say that they were the world’s first trad-metal band; without them, groups like 3 Inches of Blood and their ilk simply would not exist. Regardless of which genre or genres you think they ultimately influenced, there’s no denying that Mercyful Fate made their mark in a major, major way.

THE LIST SO FAR:

#16 – Morbid Angel (33 Votes, 406 Points)
#17 – Meshuggah (32 Votes, 377 Points)

#18 – Opeth (30 Votes, 364 Points)
#19 – Testament (33 Votes, 347 Points)
#20 – At The Gates (28 Votes, 331 Points)
#21 – AC/DC (17 Votes, 313 Points)

#22 – Celtic Frost (24 Votes, 310 Points)
#23 – Ozzy Osbourne (21 Votes, 290 Points)
#24 – Napalm Death (22 Votes, 278 Points)
#25 – Lamb of God (29 Votes, 277 Points)

THE ILLUSTRIOUS PANEL OF VOTERS:

Chris Alfano – East of the Wall, Gear Gods
Paul Allender – White Empress, ex-Cradle of Filth
Rob Arnold – The Elite, ex-Chimaira, ex-Six Feet Under
Alan Averill (aka A.A. Nemtheanga) – Primordial
Chuck B.B. – Artist
Matt Bachand – Shadows Fall
Micke Berg – Below
Chuck Billy – Testament
Randy Blythe – Lamb of God
Paul Booth – Last Rites Tattoo and Art Gallery
Jake Bowen – Periphery
Terry Butler – Obituary
Liz Ciavarella-Brenner – Publicist, Earsplit PR
Blake Charlton – Ramming Speed
Richard Christy – Charred Walls of the Damned, ex-Death, ex-Iced Earth, ex-Control Denied, The Howard Stern Show
Monte Conner – President, Nuclear Blast Entertainment
Bruce Corbitt – Rigor Mortis, Warbeast
Doc Coyle – ex-God Forbid
Sergeant D. – MetalSucks, Stuff You Will Hate
Topon Das – Fuck the Facts, Merdarahta
Anso DF – MetalSucks
Peter Dolving – Rosvo, ex-The Haunted
Ryan J. DowneySuperhero Artist Management
Sacha Dunable – Intronaut, Bereft, Dunable Guitars
Vince Edwards – Head of Publicity, Metal Blade Records
Excretakano – MetalSucks
Exmortus
Extreme Management Group
D.X. Ferris – Slayer ScholarMetalSucks
Ryan Fleming – Black Table
Jon Freeman – Publicist, Freeman Promotions
Matthew Friesen – Culted
Ville Friman – Insomnium
Mike Gitter – Senior Director of A&R, Razor & Tie
Frank Godla – Metal Injection, Meek is Murder
Mike Greene – Director of Digital Marketing, Razor & Tie
Shane Handel – Set and Setting
Jeff Hodak – Head of Sales, Razor & Tie
Terence Hannum – Locrian
John Hoffman – Weekend Nachos
Mark Hunter – ex-Chimaira
Don JamiesonThat Metal Show
Daniel Jansson – Culted
John Jarvis – Pig Destroyer, Fulgora
Gaz Jennings – Death Penalty, ex-Cathedral
Patrik Jensen – The Haunted
Rick Jimenez – Extinction A.D.
Kassa – Below
Mirai Kawashima – Sigh
“Grim” Kim KellyMetalSucks
Zeena Koda
Erik Kluiber – Gypsyhawk
Eyal LeviUnstoppable Killing Machine, Dååth
Jason Lekberg – IKILLYA
Adam Lindmark – Morbus Chron
Ryan Lipynsky – Serpentine Path, Unearthly Trance, The Howling Wind
Jonah Livingston – Ramming Speed
Bob Lugowe – Director of Promotions/Marketing, Relapse Records, Brutal Panda Records
James Malone – Arsis, Necromancing the Stone
Jose Mangin – Director of Music Programming, Sirius XM Liquid Metal
Bobby Mansfield – 16
Misha Mansoor – Periphery
Morgan McGrath – Live Nation
Mike “Gunface” McKenzie – The Red Chord, Stomach Earth, Nightkin
Vince Neilstein – MetalSucks
Eventansvarig Biostaden Nyköping – Below
Chris Ojeda – Byzantine
Casey Orr – Rigor MortisWarbeast
Rob Pasbani – Metal Injection
Anders Persson – Portrait
Chris Pervelis – Internal Bleeding
Karim Peter – Artist Relations, IndieMerchandising
Raphael Pinsker – Booking Agent, 3Thirteen Entertainment Group
Polar
Markus “Rabapagan” – Metsatöll
Josh Rand – Stone Sour
Emperor Rhombus – MetalSucks
Gus Rios – Gruesome
Tobias Rosén – Noctum
Axl Rosenberg – MetalSucks
Travis Ryan – Cattle Decapitation, Murder Construct, Nader Sadek
Saturn
Marc Schapiro, Branch Marketing Collective
Zach Shaw – The Syndicate
Patrick Sheridan – Fit For An Autopsy
Alex Skolnick – Testament
Brian Slagel – Chairman/CEO, Metal Blade Records
Mark Solotroff – Anatomy of Habit, Bloodlust!, BLOODYMINDED
Steve “Zetro” Souza – Exodus, Hatriot
Kevin Stewart-Panko – Decibel, MetalSucks
Black String – Vampire
Jason Suecof – Audiohammer Studios
Bram Teitelman – Metal Insider
Nick Tieder – No Jacket Required Marketing, Indegoot
Tone Deaf Touring
Aaron Turner – Old Man Gloom, ex-ISIS, Hydra Head Records
Brody Uttley – Rivers of Nihil
George Vallee – Head of Publicity, Street Smart Marketing
Dirk Verbeuren – Soilwork, Bent Sea, Scarve
Jens Vestergren – Below
Jake Wade – Columns
Kelly Walsh – Publicist, Prosthetic Records
Mike Wohlberg – The Fat Kid Illustration
Wookubus – The PRP
Zodiac

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