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Their Fate Was to Be Pardoned by The King - 87%

bayern, October 15th, 2017

The King Diamond/Mercyful Fate tribute acts have grown to such a vast number recently that I can clearly see them taking over those who have sworn allegiance to Black Sabbath, Death, and Slayer. Some (In Solitude, Portrait, Attic) have managed to extract the best from the veterans’ arsenal, no doubt about that, but there always springs up the question as to how necessary it all is, to emulate unsurmountable models rather than looking for newer, more individualistic paths to explore…

our Italian friends here belong to that category, but their style doesn’t sound as derivative since they have chosen a more aggressive, more thrash-fixated way of execution, one that also tolerates more elaborate, nearly progressive configurations. Still, one shouldn’t look much further than the fabulous Danes with the revealing album-title (a total reference to the “Incarnation of Evil” hit from “Don’t Break the Oath”) and the masks which the guys prefer to decorate their faces with, those a compendium of The King, the Kiss troupe, and Brandon Lee (R.I.P.) from “The Crow”. The band founder, the vocalist Victor Salinas is an obvious worshipper of the King, and it’s kind of ironic and also paradoxical that he’s no longer with his colleagues at the present moment…

anyway, while still together the guys have managed to create a really nice combination of energetic speed/thrashing and more complex operatic passages; by speed/thrashing, though, don’t understand hyper-active Slayer-esque bash; this is dark sombre music only played with more verve and passion; think a more brutal version of the mentioned acts. Still, one won’t stand still when exposed to the wild galloper “Smell of Blood”, or the short headbanger “Escape from the Bloody House on the Hill”, or especially the momentary ball of fury that is “Walking Through the Flames of Hell”, a blitzkrieg mosher which will throw everyone in spontaneous pogo regardless of the location. Salinas supervises the musical histrionics with panache and authority, his clean emotional tenor reaching the stratosphere on the more dramatic moments, a true vocal talent worthy of sharing the stage with Rob Halford and Tim “Ripper” Owens any time.

The more serious side of the album is captured by the sinister operatic composition “The Time Has Come”, baroque chamber-like music for the more metal-prone; the dramatic hammering “The Shadow of the Devil” which is a heavy volcanic mid-pacer squeezing a lot of drama from this somewhat minimalistic delivery; the aggressive and moderately complex power/thrasher “Under the Sign of the Evil” which needs just a bit more edge to qualify for the other group; and the final, logically-titled “The End of the Beast”, a larger-than-life power/thrashterpiece which is built on a dense, at times plain hectic, alternation between heavy seismic and fast lashing sections the latter taking over at the end which is played with the utmost intensity bordering on death, Salinas matching the riffing madness with the most piercing, glass-shattering screams imaginable.

The man doesn’t exactly resemble Kim Petersen’s characteristic falcetto although his higher-pitched attempts come quite close to it at times; he prefers the more standard performance patterns by at the same time accentuating on his glass-breaking skills again whenever he has to match the heightened musical dramatism. Style-wise the band do resemble the Mercyful Fate/King Diamond exploits, but the resemblance is mostly in the atmosphere evocation and the overall compositional layout, not so much in the separate methods of execution. In other words, we don’t have intentional copycats here, just a venerable unobtrusive tribute to one of metal’s finest done with professionalism and passion for these bands’ legacy.

The “theatre” has grounded to a halt although the guys are reportedly still active, albeit deprived of their main performer. Without him the intended tributes to the King and his entourage will simply be not as thrilling… a familiar story, when you think of it; one that very closely mirrors the Mercyful Fate saga. Just when we were talking about non-emulations and stuff… or maybe it’s all a more or less well-measured publicity stunt, who knows… let’s hope this “fairy-tale” has the familiar happy ending, though, otherwise the band’s fate would be to always reside in the shadows (why this impertinent sense of deja-vu again?).