After their controversial comeback with “In The Shadows,” MERCYFUL FATE fans either praised the band’s return as a continuation of the legacy initiated by “Melissa” and “Don’t Break The Oath,” or condemned it as a disgrace to that very same legacy. Well, if you fall into that latter camp, you won’t find “Time” any more appealing than “In The Shadows,” but for fans of 90’s MERCYFUL FATE, this album is like a master class in sinister Heavy Metal.
Musically, we got a lot more experimentation here than usual, but it works out great. On top of the awesome guitar work fans have come to expect from Shermann and Denner, we get the equally proficient bass and drum work of Sharlee D’Angelo (ARCH ENEMY, SINERGY) and Snowy Shaw (KING DIAMOND, MEMENTO MORI, NOTRE DAME), respectively. “The Mad Arab” opens up with Eastern-tinged melodies and neo-classical sections run throughout, probably used to best effect during the breakdown toward the end of “Witches’ Dance.” Speaking of “Witches’ Dance,” if you’ll ever hear a song that sounds more truly evil, I’d be quite surprised – no, it’s not DARKTHRONE, but MERCYFUL FATE show that you don’t have to play underproduced Black Metal to be blacker than black. King Diamond uses lots of layered vocals, typically with his falsetto providing the atmospheric background for his mid-range vocal melodies in the foreground and sounds just as good as ever.
Most experimental of all is the title track. Here we are treated to a harpsichord-led track, courtesy of King Diamond, with mostly falsetto vocals and an atmosphere which I can only describe the kind you would expect to find at some macabre ballroom costume party…where everyone comes dressed as Satan. The only other piece of music I’ve found that captures the same feeling as this track is ARCTURUS’ album “La Masquerade Infernale,” but “Time” manages to sum up that entire album’s feeling in just one song. Hands down the best song here and one of the band’s finest moments.
This album is a little less ferocious than previous FATE releases and maybe even a little more commercial-sounding at times, but when you’re getting songs as good as “Angel Of Light” and “Time,” I’m not going to complain. Yes, I’ll go on the record and say that this is my favourite MERCYFUL FATE album – yes, that even includes the old stuff.
There goes my credibility. Oh well. (Online November 20, 2005)