Our top 10 Mercyful Fate songs list looks at the catalog of a momentous Swedish band applauded for its influence on the black metal scene. Since its establishment in 1981, Mercyful Fate has kept up with its classic metal sound with its lyrical themes centered on occultism. However, it is the dramatic yet sensational lyricism and the brilliance of its founders, vocalist King Diamond and guitarist Hank Shermann, which have kept the band’s legacy afloat.
Hank Shermann’s earth-shattering riffing and mind-blowing vocals (especially the falsetto) have seen the band attract a cult following from the legion of metal fans. Mercyful Fate was a significant pillar of the New Wave of Black Heavy Metal in Denmark and later all over Europe. The band has been cited as an influence by other metal bands, including Metallica, Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Slayer, and Obituary.
Mercyful Fate’s Career Beginnings and Breakthrough
The band’s formation coincided with the rise of the black metal scene, which is an extreme heavy metal subgenre. Mercyful Fate takes credit as one of the first wave black metal bands. Other honorable mentions of the first wave black wave metal scene include Venom, Celtic Frost, Bathory, and Hellhammer. King Diamond and Hank Shermann had earlier played together as part of the now-defunct punk band Brats.
With the falling stocks of the flourishing punk scene and their passion for some heavier sound, the two went on to form Mercyful Fate. The two recruited bassist Timi Hansen and drummer Kim Ruzz to complete the band’s lineup. While the band’s lineup has evolved over the years, its founding members, King and Hank, have always been present in all incarnations.
In 1982, Mercyful Fate issued its first eponymous extended play, which included four of its earliest recordings. The EP was issued through RaveOn Records. Songs like “Doomed by the Living Dead” and “A Corpse Without Soul” attracted the attention of metal fans to the band’s musical pursuits. Mercyful Fate, later in 1983, issued its debut album, Melissa, through Roadrunner Records. Other artists who have released albums through Roadrunner Records include Annihilator, Sepultura, Nickelback, and Machine Head.
Melissa marked Mercyful Fate’s groundbreaking release featuring some of the band’s signature black metal sound. The album might not have made it to the top of the charts but remains one of the most influential LPs of the first wave black metal scene. “Evil,” “Curse of Pharaoh,” “Into the Coven,” and “Black Funeral” are some of the biggest songs by Mercyful Fate from the album.
Mercyful Fate’s Album Releases over the Years
In 1984, Mercyful Fate released its sophomore studio album, Don’t Break the Oath. The album remains the band’s highest-charting LP on the Sweden Albums chart peaking at number thirty-three. Don’t Break the Oath also made it to number sixty-six on the German Albums chart. King Diamond’s signature theatrical falsetto vocals and heavy inspirational instrumentation are the selling point of the album. “Come to the Sabbath,” “The Oath,” “Gypsy,” and A Dangerous Meeting” are some of the fan-favorite tracks from this nine-track LP.
The band went on hiatus following the departure of King Diamond. However, Mercyful Fate reunited in 1992, releasing its third studio album, In the Shadows, in 1993. The album was issued through Metal Blade Records, home to other artists including Anvil, Whitechapel, Behemoth, Lizzy Borden, and As I Lay Dying. “Is That You, Melissa?” “Egypt” and “The Old Oak” are some of the best Mercyful Fate songs from the album.
Mercyful Fate went on to release its fourth studio album, Time, in 1994. Time is an eleven-track album whose lyrics are penned by the band’s vocalist King Diamond. Some of the most popular songs by Mercyful Fate from the album include “Witches’ Dance,” “Nightmare Be Thy Name,” “Angel of Light,” and “Lady in Black.” The album was preceded by the band’s EP, The Bell Witch, released the same year.
In 1996, Mercyful Fate issued its fifth studio album, Into the Unknown. Into the Unknown is one of the band’s most commercially successful LPs. The album made it to number thirty-one on the Finnish Albums charts. Into the Unknown features ten tracks, with the Japanese release featuring a cover of Judas Priest’s song “The Ripper” as a bonus track. “The Uninvited Guest” is the most sought-after Mercyful Fate song from the album.
The band went on to release its sixth studio album, Dead Again, in 1996. Dead Again is a ten-track album whose lyrics are penned by King Diamond. The album failed to live up to the band’s expectations performing a bit poor compared to Into the Unknown. However, it managed to feature some of the best Mercyful Fate songs, including “The Night” and “Sucking your Blood.”
Mercyful Fate gave it another shot at an album release, issuing 9 in 1999. 9 marked the band’s seventh studio album. The album is the band’s most recent LP release, having it followed by a twelve-year hiatus. 9 is best remembered for its heavy sound and its continuation of Mercyful Fate’s signature occult-oriented lyrics. “Church of Saint Anne,” “Burn in Hell,” and “Buried Alive” are some of the best Mercyful Fate songs from the ten-track album.
Mercyful Fate’s Other Musical Pursuits
Since its formation, Mercyful Fate has had several breakups. Its first breakup in 1985 allowed its frontman to establish his side project King Diamond (a heavy metal band). The band went on to release music through Roadrunner Records, with its debut album Fatal Portrait issued in 1986. King Diamond rose to global prominence soon after its 1987 sophomore album, Abigail, which peaked at number sixty-eight on the Billboard 200. However, the band’s vocalist made a return to Mercyful Fate when the band reunited.
Mercyful Fate’s Accolades and Legacy
Mercyful Fate remains one of the most influential ensembles in the black metal scene. Mellissa and Don’t Break the Oath helped set the standard for other black metal bands that came in the second wave of the metal subgenre. The band has inspired multiple other acts, including Metallica, Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Slayer, and Obituary. Metallica released “Mercyful Fate (Medley)” on its 1998 cover compilation album Garage Inc. The eleven-minute medley covered five Mercyful Fate songs. Here we present the ten best Mercyful Fate songs of all time.
#10 – Burn in Hell
Opening our top 10 Mercyful Fate songs list is the striking hit “Burn in Hell.” The song is featured on the band’s most recent album, 9. “Burn in Hell” alludes to paying for one’s sins without escape. Usually, most Christians believe that their sins were/are forgiven. Well, not in King Diamond’s thoughts. The song showcases how the human race will “Burn in Hell” for its sins.
Away from the song’s theme, “Burn in Hell” is among the band’s later releases evocative of Mercyful Fate albums Melissa and Don’t Break the Oath. While this song might not be as alluring as some of the masterpieces in the band’s debut and sophomore albums, it remains among the fan-favorite songs by Mercyful Fate.
#9 – Into the Coven
We didn’t have to go so far to see some of the band’s groundbreaking releases. “Into the Coven” is among the musical gems you will find in the band’s debut album, Melissa. The song has its lyrics allude to an occult ritual where the follower offers his soul away. Its lyrics were penned by the band’s vocalist King Diamond.
This theatrical song maintains its place in the hearts of Mercyful Fate’s fans thanks to the shattering yet inspirational falsetto vocals by King Diamond. “Into the Coven” remains one of the ’80s songs that became a focal point of the direction of the black metal scene. Metallica included “Into the Coven” in their medley “Mercyful Fate,” released on their 1998 album Garage Inc.
#8 – Is That You, Melissa?
Back from hiatus and the band would now take a huge test to replicate its brilliance, as seen with Melissa and Don’t Break the Oath. Of course, some of the band’s fans had moved on from the fact that Mercyful Fate was no more, with some following the band’s vocalist to his project Mercyful Fate. “Is That You, Melissa?” however, proved that Mercyful Fate was back with a bang.
Despite featuring great hits like “Is That You, Melissa?” In the Shadows never got the acclaim it deserves. “Is That You, Melissa” was covered by a breakout Brazilian metal band featuring female vocals. The cover is worth checking out!
#7 – The Uninvited Guest
“The Uninvited Guest” is yet another thrilling release by Mercyful Fate. The song is featured on the band’s fifth studio album, Into the Unknown. King Diamond handled both the lyrics and the music to this song. Guitarist Hank Shermann delivers an inspirational guitar solo in the song’s intro. The song has a music video that depicts the band’s vocalist singing while wearing corpse makeup. His signature falsetto is also a major highlight of this song and the reason the album received quite some commercial success.
#6 – A Dangerous Meeting
Number six on our top 10 Mercyful Fate songs is the inspirational hit “A Dangerous Meeting.” The song is among the musical gems featured on the band’s sophomore album, Don’t Break the Oath. “A Dangerous Meeting” features lyrics that allude to occult dealing, including encountering a spirit.
One of the reasons the song is highly ranked and a fan favorite is its great instrumentation. Thumbs up to guitarist Hank Shermann, bassist Timi Hansen, and drummer Timi Hansen for delivering quite a performance on this song. Mentioning King’s amazing falsetto vocals wouldn’t sound like a cliché!
#5 – Curse of Pharaohs
Melissa has a soft spot for Mercyful Fate lovers thanks to the thrilling musical experience the album brings on board to metal lovers. “Curses of Pharaohs” is among the reasons Mercyful Fate’s debut album is highly acclaimed. The song’s lyrics serve as a warning to aspiring grave robbers, telling of the curse of the dead Egyptian pharaohs.
A similar lyrical theme is also seen on “Egypt,” another fan-favorite track from the band’s debut album. “Curse of Pharaohs” is among the five songs covered by the heavy metal band Metallica.
#4 – The Oath
Back to the band’s sophomore album, where we find yet another fan-favorite song by Mercyful Fate, “The Oath.” Mercyful Fate can agree that “The Oath” is one of the catchiest songs ever written by the band. The song’s intro features some keyboards by King Diamond. One minute into the intro and “The Oath” sounds almost similar to Jim Johnson’s hit “Rest in Peace,” which WWE fans can relate to as Undertaker’s theme song.
“The Oath” soon progresses into this viscous energy-filled metal ballad. King delivers some magnificent falsetto vocals as Shermann charms with inspirational guitar riffs. “The Oath” is among the songs that showcase Mercyful Fate’s investment in great musicianship in its early years.
#3 – Witches’ Dance
Coming in at number three on our top 10 Mercyful Fate songs list is the dazzling hit “Witches’ Dance.” The song is featured on the band’s fourth studio album, Time. What more could the fans of the band wish for in compensation for years without Mercyful Fate’s new releases?
Reunited by purpose, Mercyful Fate released its fourth studio album to build up on lost time and fair reception of In the Shadows. “Witches’ Dance” is among the musical gems from the album that prove Mercyful Fate was back to take over the black metal scene by a storm. Inspirational guitar solos and mind-blowing falsetto vocals still make up the reason why this song is highly revered.
#2 – Come to the Sabbath
“Come to the Sabbath” is the first song that comes to the minds of most Mercyful Fate fans whenever Don’t Break the Oath is mentioned. Mercyful Fate’s love for occult-related lyrical themes continues in this song. The singer calls upon other people to some kind of ritual. “Come to the Sabbath” finds the singer wishing an evil curse on the priest who took away Melissa. This masterpiece also features some great instrumentation, especially King’s work on the keyboard and Hank Shermann’s guitar solo.
#1 – Evil
Number one on our top 10 Mercyful Fate songs list is the brilliant hit “Evil.” The song serves as the opening track of the band’s debut album, Melissa. “Evil” has remained the band’s signature song and the most popular fan favorite since its release. It is the raw energy of the then up-and-coming black metal ensemble that makes “Evil” quite a remarkable song.
The song has gone on to inspire many acts, including Metallica, who covered it on the medley “Mercyful Fate” featured on their cover album Garage Inc. Other notable covers of the song have been delivered by Arvas, Snowy Show, and Burning Inside. A version of “Evil” was featured in the 2009 music rhythm video game Guitar Hero: Metallica.
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