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Album Reviews : Mercyful Fate – Don’t Break The Oath

By on April 20, 2010

mercyfulfate240Mercyful Fate’s Don’t Break the Oath was an inspirational album to many of today’s metal artists. Many bands including Metallica name them in their list of influences. However back in the day, I didn’t really know who they were. Sure I knew who King Diamond was and probably because of his run in with Kiss’ Gene Simmons over copyright of make up, of all things, I never got into him either. That all changed one day when I was reading an article on the all time top 10 thrash albums in a guitar magazine, and there was Mercyful Fate – Don’t Break the Oath. This was of course before the time of today’s genres, sub- genres and such. Of course nowadays King Diamond and Mercyful Fate are linked more to Black Metal than any other genres because of the bands concept albums and use of occult story lines.

Needless to say I went out and bought Don’t Break the Oath straight away to find out what I had been missing out on. Originally released in 1984, it wasn’t until 1990 or so that I finally got acquainted with Mercyful Fate and even though it was 6 or so years old it still blew me away. A lot of the song structures are quite complex and were well ahead of their time. Epic anthems with satanic themed lyrics made this unlike anything I had ever heard before. There are no down tuned guitars as most metal bands use nowadays, just straight out heavy driving riffs combined with King’s amazing vocal capabilities really made Mercyful Fate’s sound one of the most unique sounds of the time.

A Dangerous Meeting, Desecration of Souls, Night of the Unborn, The Oath, and Come to the Sabbath are all favorites on an album that doesn’t have a bad song on it, and which has become one of my most prized possessions. The Oath would be the standout track, the longest track on the album clocking in at seven and a half minutes. It is an epic piece with its eerie beginning and it’s very satanic lyrics. The sound is so very eighties with it’s over the top guitar solos, but has some of the best rhythm sections and bass lines you would have ever heard back then.

I guess the only fault the album had was that the production wasn’t up to scratch, but it was 1984 and unlike some of their metal counterparts at the time they were still very much an underground band.

It’s a good thing we have reissues of all these classic albums in this day and age, because this one has been played so many times in recent years that it must be nearly worn out. I would recommend this cd to any metal fan, particularly those who are interested in Black Metal’s origins. Other releases worth checking out would be Melissa and also a few of King Diamond’s solo albums, such as Abigail and Conspiracy, even his latest offering released in 2007 Give Me Your Soul…Please is well worth a listen.

Band: Mercyful Fate
Album: Don’t Break The Oath
Year: 1984
Genre: Traditional Heavy Metal/Black Metal
Label: Roadrunner
Origin: Copenhagen, Denmark

Track Listing:
1. A Dangerous Meeting
2. Nightmare
3. Desecration of Souls
4. Night of the Unborn
5. The Oath
6. Gypsy
7. Welcome Princes of Hell
8. To One Far Away
9. Come to the Sabbath


Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.