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They Really Do Sound Like Mercyful Fate! - 90%

FullMetalAttorney, August 10th, 2011

Mercyful Fate is the greatest metal band, ever. Melissa and Don't Break the Oath are easily on par with Vol. 4 and Master of Puppets. Shermann and Denner have the most distinctive (and excellent) double-guitar riffing in the genre, and I recently named King Diamond as the greatest metal vocalist of all time. I defy you to find any issue of Decibel or Terrorizer that doesn't mention the glorious MF or KD. Try to argue with me, and you will come up with only four or five other bands that could possibly claim the title: Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Metallica, and maybe Celtic Frost. But each and every one of those bands has bad albums to their name. Not so for the great Danes.

Two bands have recently been recommended as Mercyful Fate sound-alikes: In Solitude and Portrait. They have quite a bit in common with each other besides that comparison. Both are from Sweden. Both are on Metal Blade. Both released their debut albums in 2008. And both released their sophomore albums (with verbose titles) this May.

Portrait's frontman doesn't wear face paint, but they proudly proclaim their love for King Diamond. And they absolutely sound the part.

Vocalist Per Karlsson doesn't have a voice that naturally sounds like King Diamond, and his phrasing isn't quite spot-on. But the "praise Satan" lyrics and penchant for hitting a frightening falsetto are there in spades. Even without the natural ability, he properly evokes the King mood. That's the key.

Many of these riffs and leads could have been pulled from Fate songs. Album highlight "Bloodbath" is the perfect example, as it includes the "Desecration of Souls" lead at 0:30 and loads of Fate riffs. In fact, every song down to the instrumental "The Wilderness Beyond" sound like Mercyful Fate songs. And they're good ones. Plus, they know how to write a 9 minute song that works. Their only misstep along the way is an overlong acoustic outro on "Darkness Forever", but that's a small price to pay to hear this fantastic album.

The Verdict: Portrait really does sound like Mercyful Fate, and they do an excellent job of it--the first band to pull it off since MF and KD themselves.

adapted from an article on Full Metal Attorney comparing and contrasting to In Solitude's The World. The Flesh. The Devil.