Mercyful Fate – “Melissa” (1983)

Mercyful Fate“It’s such a fine line between stupid and clever.”  That’s a quote from This Is Spinal Tap.  I can’t help but think of this quote when I’m listening to a Mercyful Fate album.  Any time King Diamond is involved you’ve got some unbridled ridiculousness on your hands.  This guy yammers on about Satan with a ludicrous high-pitched falsetto that you won’t believe is humanly possible.  It’s stupid — and possibly clever.  Believe it or not, King Diamond was actually a little more restrained on Melissa than he was on Mercyful Fate’s 1984 follow-up Don’t Break The Oath.  But still… it’s silly pants.

This is probably the most overtly Satanic album I own.  Way back when, Melissa seemed genuinely scary and taboo (especially to those of us growing up Christian).  But now, in a post-September 11th world where we’re all desensitized by the legitimately scary stuff going on, the Satanism “scare” of the eighties seems downright cute.  Such innocent times!  Because I am older, wiser, and godless, I can listen to Melissa without worrying about burning in eternal hell fire.  (I’ll repent on my death-bed just in case.)  Instead, I appreciate Melissa as camp — like a cheesy horror movie from the eighties.

Aside from the absurd lyrics and the strange sounds emanating from King’s blasphemous mouth hole, the music on Melissa may take a little time to get used to.  Songs change direction without warning so don’t get too comfortable.  Lots of riffs (cool).  Lots of solos (meh).  Not much in the way of great hooks.  Melissa is, however, a very heavy record for its time.  No one can deny that.  My score: C+

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