MERCYFUL FATE To Release Two New Songs Ahead Of Full-Length AlbumNovember 15, 2022
In a new interview with Canada's The Metal Voice, Brian Slagel, the founder and CEO of Metal Blade Records, was asked about MERCYFUL FATE's plans for releasing new music. He responded: "So here are the plans. So there's two [new] songs, one of which you know they're playing a new song in the set ['The Jackal Of Salzburg'] now [on tour], which was supposed to be out prior to all of this, but everything's delayed. So the first thing is, as soon as this [current fall 2022 U.S.] tour is done, they're gonna finish up that song. It's mostly recorded, and they're gonna finish that up and we're gonna put that out to the digital people on the Internet. So you'll be able to stream that — I don't know — some time in the next few months. So there's that. They have another song they've written that's also gonna be out there as well, so there'll be two MERCYFUL FATE songs out there. We'll probably do some sort of vinyl thing with the two tracks as well. Then we'll have a KING DIAMOND album following that. And then we'll go back to kind of the way we did it in the '90s where the next record will be full MERCYFUL FATE album."
MERCYFUL FATE kicked off its first North American headlining tour in over two decades last month. Stepping in on bass for MERCYFUL FATE at these shows is Becky Baldwin, a British musician who has previously played with FURY, TRIAXIS and CONTROL THE STORM. She is filling in for MERCYFUL FATE's regular bassist Joey Vera, who is unable to make the trek due to a scheduling conflict with his longtime band ARMORED SAINT.
In 2019, it was announced Vera would be replacing original MERCYFUL FATE bassist Timi Hansen for the band's summer 2020 European festival appearances due to Hansen's cancer diagnosis. Hansen passed away in November 2019 and MERCYFUL FATE's 2020 summer festival appearances were rescheduled for 2021, and then to 2022.
MERCYFUL FATE's North American tour, which features support from by KREATOR and MIDNIGHT, will wrap up on November 16 in Atlanta, Georgia. The tour follows MERCYFUL FATE's stunning headlining performance at this year's edition of Psycho Las Vegas.
MERCYFUL FATE debuted "The Jackal Of Salzburg" in Germany this past June as well as at Psycho Las Vegas.
The band's current lineup is King Diamond on vocals, Hank Shermann and Mike Wead on guitars, Bjarne T. Holm on drums and Vera on bass.
King discussed MERCYFUL FATE's return in August immediately following the band's performance at the Psycho Las Vegas festival. Speaking to Knotfest's Daniel Dekay, the 66-year-old singer said: "It's absolutely not a reunion. We picked up where we stopped in '99. It's the same lineup except we wanted [original MERCYFUL FATE bassist] Timi Hansen back on the bass, who got sick [with cancer]. And we tried, and he got better, and then he got worse [before eventually dying in 2019]. We actually started looking for a stand-in for Timi in case he couldn't do full shows. And that was Joey Vera. Timi wanted that, and I was totally into that. I saw Joey with FATES WARNING, and there was no doubt in our minds. And Timi really, really felt that was the right thing. At some point, Timi got worse really fast."
King continued: "When we played at Copenhell [festival] in Copenhagen [earlier this summer], Joey got a chance to meet Timi's daughter, which was really, really nice, and could get her blessing, too, for doing what we're doing. Otherwise it's the '9' [album] lineup. So that's the only thing that changed — is the bass."
King also talked about MERCYFUL FATE's plans for new music, including "The Jackl Of Salzburg", which he and his bandmates have been performing at all of their recent shows. The track is expected to appear on MERCYFUL FATE's upcoming studio album, tentatively due in 2023 via Metal Blade. Lyrically, the song is inspired by one of the last major witch hunts, the Zaubererjackl trials in Salzburg, Austria (1675-90). 139 people were executed — including 39 children (between 10 and 14 years old),53 teenagers and young adults (between 15 and 21) — as the followers of Wizard Jackl or Magician Jackl or Jäckel, who was himself never found.
"We're writing for a full album," King said. "We're also writing for a full KING DIAMOND album at the same time. But, of course, MERCYFUL FATE, we can't just start with a normal song. I don't know why. It's crazy. But me and Hank are writing the same way as we did back then. I will be writing some of my own songs. But we started out with Hank writing music. And in the old days, I would get it. I have a big scalpel. And I do this [makes cutting motion] and suddenly things move around and stuff, and Hank says, 'Oh, now it sounds like MERCYFUL FATE.' And that's been the case [with 'The Jackl Of Salzburg'] too. And that song was originally seven minutes or something; now it's 8:54. So it's kind of nine minutes. You don't really do that for trying to come back with a single. [But] it's what we do."
King went on to say that he got the opportunity to see the Moosham Castle in Austria which served as the administrative center during the Zaubererjackl witch trials. "We were down there," he said. "We went into the torture chamber. They have all the original stuff there still that they used. It's absolutely a creepy place. But we got the opportunity to go in and see it. And there was a couple of things I saw there that I now have to put into the lyrics [of 'The Jackl Of Salzburg'] to make it even more realistic. There is a small piece in [the song] that is not finished yet."
In July, Denner, who was part of MERCYFUL FATE's classic lineup, said that it was "heartbreaking" for him to be excluded from the group's current comeback. Denner addressed his absence from the band's reunion in an interview with Finland's Chaoszine. He said: "I [feel like] this is not my band anymore. I'm not part of it, because they didn't tell me; they didn't invite me. We didn't even have a discussion about it. So, of course, it took some time for me to digest it. It was quite painful, because I miss my friends from the '80s — I miss them. But not the people who [are] in the band today. I wish them the best. I mean, the better they play, the more records we can sell and the more money I will get in the end. Of course it's heartbreaking. And also to see and hear — they play my signature stuff. Most of the songs they play now is things I've done — I mean, my signature solos, my themes, my arrangements, my stuff. And it's another guy who plays. But then again, Mike Wead is a great guitarist, and he's still a good friend of mine. So if anyone should do the job, I'm glad it's him who did it, really. He can do the shit. That's some sort of comfort in all this agony and disappointment — that it's Mike Wead who plays. And that makes me feel good."
Regarding his relationship with King, Michael said: "The thing is me and King, we had a discussion some years ago. It was about a cover of a DENNER/SHERMANN album. Because the artist who did the artwork for the cover is [Swedish artist] Thomas Holm who did [MERCYFUL FATE's] 'Melissa' and 'Don't Break The Oath'. And, of course, his way of painting and stuff, it was a bit more than a bit similar to 'Melissa' and 'Don't Break The Oath', and King got upset and tried to stop the album. He did manage to stop — as I recall it — the merchandise side; t-shirt design and so on. I'm not a hundred percent sure [about] that, but that could be the story.
"Me and King are quite alike," he explained. "We don't turn the other cheek. I mean, two old assholes who don't wanna stretch the hand out and say, 'Okay, let bygones be bygones. Let's try to do this.' So we keep the disagreements and the enemy side of it. That's just sad. But with Hank, it was a different story because it came out of nowhere. We had a good teamwork going with DENNER/SHERMANN. And one of the last things Hank told me was, 'If we do a MERCYFUL FATE reunion, it should be with you and me. No question about it.' But of course, King, he has some strong will and some power behind it — Metal Blade Records and money; big salaries. So Hank chose to go that way and just leave me out in the cold. And [Hank and I] haven't spoken since, more or less. And that's a few years now. But then again, we've been a guitar team since the late '70s — that's a long, long time — and the friendship. And it's like telepathy. You know exactly which guy should play what parts and we know each other like it's in the pocket. But he chose to go that way, and I couldn't live with that. So we don't talk anymore. But I wish him the best — I wish him just the best of luck in the future. But his future will be without me."
Asked if he thinks there is still a chance that he will one day reconnect with Hank, Michael said: "Not in a million years. That will never happen — never. It's just the end of it, because I could never trust this guy again. He broke my heart and he stabbed me in the back. But still, I miss my old friend; I miss my guitar partner. But I will never take a chance again, trusting this guy, when he could do the thing he did. I will never be safe. So I feel sorry for me and I feel sorry for him. It's a loss. That's the way life goes. You have to carry on."
Earlier in August, King commented on Denner's exclusion from MERCYFUL FATE's current tour, telling Creem magazine: "There are reasons Michael Denner and [drummer] Kim Ruzz are simply not here. I know that Michael Denner did an interview recently, and I'm not going to get into it, but he said a lot of things that are absolutely not true. I could go into a lot of details about the reasons that this is not a lineup with him in it, or Kim Ruzz in it. I don't want to say anything bad about anybody, but you can't say, 'Hey, I should have played there.' Why? Should I throw out a band member that is absolutely perfect for the band, that goes all out for the band all the time, no matter what? And his skill is beyond anything I played with on that spot in the band? There's no way that he's going to get fired because someone else is suddenly interested in the band. That's completely wrong. There's no way I would ever treat anyone like that."
King went on to say that it has been "very cool and a lot of fun" to play with MERCYFUL FATE again, but he clarified: "People have misunderstood what we are doing now. This is not a reunion. We are just picking it up again because the stars are aligned correctly now. And that's been the thing all the time. Before when people asked, 'Do you think you're going to play with MERCY again?' I would never say never. But it's got to be completely right. I don't want to go out there and try to milk a cow and do a show with the backdrop and then collect and say, 'That was that.' That's not right. And Hank has the same philosophy. Either we do it 200 percent, or we don't do it."
MERCYFUL FATE was formed in early 1981 in Copenhagen, Denmark by King and Shermann. They were later joined by guitarist Michael Denner and Hansen, and soon thereafter drummer Kim Ruzz would join to complete the band lineup. The band recorded two demos in 1981 and later signed with Rave On Records in Holland for the recording of their successful self-titled EP, released in November of 1982. The "Mercyful Fate" EP was soon in heavy rotation around core metal radio stations, launching a new breed of heavy metal with their unique sound.
The band joined Roadrunner Records in 1983 and their debut full-length, "Melissa", was recorded and released that same year. The following year, MERCYFUL FATE returned to the studio to record their now legendary "Don't Break The Oath" full-length, released in September of 1984.
MERCYFUL FATE embarked upon a two-month U.S. tour in support of the record, which took them across the States several times sharing the stage with the likes of MOTÖRHEAD and EXCITER. The shows had created a brush fire within the metal community. The band reaped recognition globally, closing the year with a five-date tour in Germany with MOTÖRHEAD, GIRLSCHOOL, HELIX and TALON.
MERCYFUL FATE's first concert of 1985 was in their hometown of Copenhagen at an old movie theater with a large capacity. The show sold out and their stage show exhibited a new level of distinction. The night was a huge victory and a new highlight for the band. By April of 1985, however, MERCYFUL FATE decided to part ways for each to pursue new challenges. The KING DIAMOND band was born and reaped critical acclaim the following years with five studio albums on Roadrunner Records. KING DIAMOND has since signed with Metal Blade Records and is going stronger than ever before.
In the summer of 1992, MERCYFUL FATE decided to reunite and penned a new deal with Slagel and Metal Blade Records. "In The Shadows" was released in 1993 and was an instant triumph furthered by a sold-out U.S. tour.
MERCYFUL FATE has gone on to release another five studio albums and have toured Europe, the U.S. and South America multiple times. The highlight of 1999 was their critically acclaimed album "9" which was followed by a European tour with METALLICA, where King Diamond and Hank Shermann joined the band onstage several times for the medley "Mercyful Fate" which METALLICA had recorded on their "Garage Inc." double tribute album the year prior. Tours in the U.S. and in South America followed, marking the band's last live performances for over a decade. MERCYFUL FATE then went on hiatus, but made a brief appearance when members joined METALLICA onstage in 2011 for their 30th-anniversary show in San Francisco, California.
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