Mercyful Fate - Don't Break The Oath
Roadrunner Records
Black Metal with Neoclassical/British Metal Influences
10 songs (47:24)
Release year: 1984
Mercyful Fate, Roadrunner Records
Reviewed by Jeff

I can remember as far back as high school (1984) when I was first exposed to Mercyful Fate's "Don't Break The Oath". The early 80's was a time when metal bands seemed to crop up one after the other at a rate so fast that it was hard to keep up . But what made Mercyful Fate so unique and stand out from the rest was King Diamond. Never had I heard a vocalist that sounded like three singers in one. He would sing in a high falsetto voice one minute, a regular voice the next and even threw in some deeper demonic tones at times. King Diamond's use of Kiss-like makeup with the infamous inverted cross on his forehead also helped the band gain attention, especially from figures of authority and morality. Musically, the band could play at any speed and heaviness, effectively using dynamics and complex arrangements. They took the twin-guitar riffing attack of British metal bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden and added neoclassical influences to give the music more diversity. Lyrically, the band focused on the occult; Satan, witches, hell, death, etc. The music was evil in tone yet hypnotically beautiful with haunting keyboards, choir like overdubs, etc. This album was a starting point and influence on many of today's black metal bands. To me, "Don't Break The Oath" is undeniably Mercyful Fate's best album, one that was way ahead of it's time and has stood the test of time very well.

"Don't Break The Oath" was Mercyful Fate's second album. It was originally released on Combat Records in 1984 and had a much slicker production than "Melissa". The song writing was much more complex, using multi-tempos and multi-sectional parts that were catchy and hard hitting. The effective use of reverb, echoes and chorus effects helped give "Don't Break The Oath" a live and errie feel.

Tracks like "A Dangerous Meeting", "Nightmare","Gypsy" and "Desecration of Souls" are just some examples of songs that are strongly riff driven and backed up by a tight rhythm section. "The Oath" includes the use of some spooky keyboards and rain effects. "To One Far Away" is an instrumental with crystal clear acoustic guitars accompanied by some lead guitar solos and King Diamond background vocals. "Come To The Sabbath", one of my favorite tracks, is fast driving with double bass drums, plenty of schizophrenic vocal parts, and a haunting mid section that includes a digital harpsichord break with layered guitar harmonies and vocals..

Amazingly, "Don't Break The Oath" became the first underground metal album to fall two slots short of making the "Billboard" magazine album chart. It reached #202.

Another interesting note is that many of the songs on "Don't Break The Oath" appeared much earlier on demos, with different titles, lyrics and arrangements. Some were even written before "Melissa". The demo version of "Death Kiss" is included on the 1997 remastered version. This song eventually became what is now "A Dangerous Meeting".

"Don't Break The Oath"; It's hard to believe that it's almost 20 years old! An album that I still listen to every now and then. A must have for any one!

 

Killing Songs :
ALL!
Jeff quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Mercyful Fate that we have reviewed:
Mercyful Fate - Melissa reviewed by Adam and quoted CLASSIC
Mercyful Fate - In The Shadows reviewed by Shane and quoted 76 / 100
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