Mercyful Fate men give it the full length

They aren’t exactly hiding it, so neither should we. The eponymously named band sees two former Mercyful Fate men team up, and if that meant that there were already clues as to how the band would sound, then it still came as a surprise how good their EP “Satan’s Tomb” was.

Released last year and called in these very pages “one of the most entertainingly evil releases of 2015” it set down a very clear marker to live up to when it came to the debut full-length.

Really, however, the same epithets apply and if you enjoyed “…..Tomb” then “Masters Of Evil” will be your bag of black magic too. Moreover, if you didn’t pick the four-tracker up, but have any interest at all in what we might call “traditional heavy metal” (that is to say its got a touch of Priest, a dash of Dio and, yes, a whole heap of Mercyful Fate about it) then you need to check this out forthwith.

The ace in the pack here, strangely, isn’t either Hank or Michael – although dammit they can knock out a twin guitar solo to rival Smith/Murray and just about anyone else for that matter – rather its singer Sean Peck, the Cage vocalist puts in a hell of a shift here, ranging from the outright Ozzy-isms of the brilliant “The Wolf Feeds At Night” to his display on the opening salvo of “Angel’s Blood”, he really is the perfect foil for the music.

The foundations for the songs are laid down by legendary drummer Snowy Shaw and Bass Player Marc Grabowski and its only right that their fine work is recognised here, but it’s in the more – lets call them glamourous roles – that “Masters Of Evil” excels. It excels by actually sounding incredibly ominous. You can enjoy the record on a purely visceral level if you like, but strip away a level and “Son Of Satan” becomes truly unsettling.

There’s nothing too long here either, almost as they were aiming for the old school of putting on one side of C90 cassette tape like MVM would have done with these nine tracks as kids, “Pentagram And The Cross” summons something from the deep and does so in a more crushing way than most here, the title track is a galloping affair dealing with (dark) lord knows what but does contain the line “beautiful women begin to undress/giving their bodies for Him to possess.”

But if this is not for the feint of heart, then it doesn’t mean that “Masters Of Evil” isn’t brilliant. Brilliantly sinister, yes, but brilliant nonetheless. “Escape From Hell” sounds like it would go back there at the drop of a horned hat, while “The Baroness” is the most epic sounding song here as the Denner And Shermann  really pull out the stops and “Servants Of Dagon” gives things a closing effort that is neither asking for redemption nor looking for forgiveness for its sins.

In so many ways here, the clue is in the name. Not just in the sound and the ethos, but with their background Hank Shermann and Michael Denner aren’t putting their name to anything that isn’t shot through with quality. With Denner/Shermann they have got something more than that, there aren’t many bands doing this stuff better.

Rating 9/10

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