Metal Blade Records founder and CEO Brian Slagel spoke to Canada's The Metal Voice about the progress of the songwriting sessions for new studio albums from both KING DIAMOND and MERCYFUL FATE. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I had a really good conversation with [King Diamond, who fronts both KING DIAMOND and MERCYFUL FATE] the other day, and he's working on both KING DIAMOND and MERCYFUL FATE. I might have heard a demo or two that sounded really, really good.
"I don't know when either of these records are gonna come out, 'cause King likes to do things at his own speed," he explained. "It's, like, 'Hey, whatever works for you is totally fine with me.' But I was very happy with what I've heard so far. So hopefully everybody will be pretty happy.
"MERCYFUL FATE is doing a bunch of festivals this summer — knock on wood — as long as they don't get canceled. And then they're also playing Psycho [Las Vegas] fest in Las Vegas, which I think will definitely be the only U.S. date. There's a possibility there could be a Canadian date somewhere along the line here too. But we'll see.
"But there will be a new KING DIAMOND record, I'm hoping, in 2023. And there will also be a new MERCYFUL FATE record sometime soon-ish."
Last month, King said that he was working on lyrics for the long-awaited new album from his namesake band. Titled "The Institute", the group's first studio LP in 15 years is tentatively next year via Metal Blade.
Back in November 2019, KING DIAMOND released its first new song in 12 years, "Masquerade Of Madness". A month later, guitarist Andy La Rocque told The Metal Voice that he came up with the music for the track first before passing it off to King, who "needed to arrange a few things and change just a small few things for making it work with his vocals. And then, of course, he wrote the lyrics for it," the guitarist revealed. "So we [went] a little back and forth until he felt like, 'Okay, this is cool, man. This is the right key to sing in,' and all that."
La Rocque, whose real name is Anders Allhage, told The Metal Voice that the tentative plan is to release "The Institute" as "a single album" as part of a two-LP horror concept story, with the second part arriving at a later date. Andy also discussed his vision for the new KING DIAMOND album, saying that it will be filled with great "melodies, of course. Super important. Without melodies, there is no music," he explained. "I'm also envisioning a more organic sound of the album. If you look back to the older albums, when Mikkey [Dee] played [drums for the band], for example, it's, like, a little bit up and down in tempo, and that makes it dynamic and also organic. So that's one thing that I would like to hear on the next album, for sure. But building up a dynamic, kind of organic feel, the drummer is a really important thing here, of course. And I know that Matt Thompson [current KING DIAMOND drummer] is the right guy to do this, for sure."
In March 2019, King told Full Metal Jackie's nationally syndicated radio show that the next album from his namesake band will be "absolutely gruesome" with a story set in a 1920s mental institution. "I chose that because I think it's a very creepy scenario," he explained. "And some of the things that go on that we're gonna show onstage is also things that certainly was going on back then, when medicine was beginning to take a beneficial turn in history and actually being able to help human beings live longer. But there was some experimentation going on, too, that was absolutely gruesome. Some of that is involved in the story, but it's something totally different. Once you get to the second part of the story, you will begin to suddenly understand that, 'What the hell is going on here? What is this really about?' 'Cause there's a whole different story that will not come to you till second part. But in the first part, you're gonna get to know a lot people at a certain place… Some of it takes place here, this world, and some of it takes place in a parallel world. And there's a correlation between what happened to me and what happens to some people in this place and where they suddenly appear. And you will find out why they are there, how they appear there and the places down the road. I won't say too much right now, but it's gonna be very creepy."
KING DIAMOND received a Grammy nomination in the "Best Metal Performance" category for the track "Never Ending Hill" off the band's last album, 2007's "Give Me Your Soul … Please".
"Give Me Your Soul ... Please" sold 4,500 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position No. 174 on The Billboard 200 chart.
KING DIAMOND released a DVD/Blu-ray, "Songs For The Dead Live", in January 2019 via Metal Blade Records. The set captures 1987's seminal "Abigail" album in its entirety, twice, and in very different locales: Belgium's Graspop Metal Meeting in June 2016 and Philadelphia's Fillmore in November 2015. The performances feature KING DIAMOND's current band, comprising of guitarists La Rocque and Mike Wead, bassist Pontus Egberg and Thompson.
MERCYFUL FATE's most recent studio album, "9", arrived in 1999.
The band's current lineup includes King Diamond, Hank Shermann on guitar, Bjarne T. Holm on drums, Mike Wead on guitar, and Joey Vera (ARMORED SAINT, FATES WARNING) on bass.
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 have since been rescheduled for 2021, and then for 2022, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.