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Denner Shermann - Satan's Tomb


by Matt Hensch

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The inevitable Mercyful Fate reunion is the biggest tease I've ever experienced. Mercyful Fate is one of my favorite bands, and that's what makes this so painful. "Satan's Tomb" is not bad in the slightest, but again, it gets me worked up like your mom after two Long Islands. Consider this: King Diamond sounds better than ever after his brush with death, Michael Denner and Hank Shermann have created a project to play Mercyful Fate-esque heavy metal after decades apart, and Donald Trump might be president. Come on, why not? Even the EP's artwork was created by the same dude who inked Satan emerging through an explosion of yellow fire on the cover of "Don't Break the Oath," which is an all-time classic that requires worship at all hours of the day. The project led by Denner and Shermann, ingeniously named Denner/Shermann, is as close to new music from Mercyful Fate since the so-so "9." Hold me.

"Satan's Tomb" resides in the shadow of the straightforward approach of "9" and "Dead Again" with some basic modern heavy metal parts thrown in. The aforementioned records were superbly lame by Mercyful Fate standards, but here the steely tempo and drive help make the approach more appealing. The largest Mercyful Fate motif emerging is the classical lead guitar styles of Denner and Shermann. The opening solo over a somber acoustic lick has the blood of the duo flowing through it, and "Satan's Tomb" benefits from the familiar tidal wave of one of metal's finest guitar pairs. Their riffing patterns are direct, creating heavy metal tunes with a crisp edge. The majestic sequences in the vein of "Don't Break the Oath" and "Melissa" are absent, but these tracks don't suffer from a more candid direction.

King Diamond isn't here, of course. Denner and Shermann recruited Sean Peck of Cage to handle the vocals. As fine as Peck sounds, filling the shoes of King Diamond is impossible. This isn't necessarily the result of having a more straightforward power metal banshee belting out over nostalgic Mercyful Fate formulas, but the lack of the King's utter dominance. The songs otherwise rise to a standard that is acceptable for running parallel to the Mercyful Fate moniker, though not rivaling the masterful works of the past. These four tunes stick to and resemble some of the more acceptable bits of Mercyful Fate's post-reunion albums, in and out in twenty-one minutes. Now stop teasing us and let the King return to his throne!

Denner Shermann - Satan's Tomb
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