Tagged: Judas Priest

 

When delving into the history of Scandinavian metal it is hard to go past the name Mercyful Fate. Led by King Diamond on vocals and the amazing Hank Shermann on guitars the band has been mixing prog metal with elements of black metal from the early 1980s. There are been some breaks in-between but the band are still going strong and are about to celebrate the re-release of some their early albums.

I was lucky enough to chat to Shermann who was in partial lockdown in Denmark at the time and we had a lengthy discussion not only about the re-releases but about the band’s history in general.

“The slogan for these are ‘back to the originals’,” says Shermann with a laugh when we begin to talk about the new re-issues that Metal Blade Records are about to bring out. “That means that these release are untouched. We were so lucky to be able to get hold of the original production that was sent to the record label back in ’82, ’83 and ’84. Those have been acquired from Warner Bros. They had them all in a vault and Metal Blade have been able to buy our back catalogue from them and these master tapes were all part of the deal.”

“So we have just decided to let them be as they were,” he explains. “That was how they were intended to be back then, so the only thing that has been done is that they have been digitised and then they are going to be released on CD and also on vinyl. All the album artwork is going to be exactly as it was back then. So I know these albums have been released before but that was more from Roadrunner who wanted to cash-in a little bit with some special digi-packing and they totally destroyed it in the mastering so it sounded awful. For that reason this time we just wanted to do it the right way – keeping it totally original.”

Shermann also admits that when they were able to sit down and listen to the original recordings it was a time to reminisce about the band’s history. “Yeah it was, it was like we were only children when we started our career,” he says honestly. “It was a good time, we were actually in our early twenties when we started our career. We did the mini-album and then Melissa and Don’t Break The Oath a year after. You know I listened to them because I have been preparing to play them live and I have been carefully listening to them so I don’t miss any note. I recently found out that I played one note slightly differently and it was on all the versions that I heard recorded so I finally corrected that little detail. But yeah you do get a kick out of listening to your own songs thirty-five years later It is all pretty cool.”

That leads me to ask that if somebody had said to the band back then that forty years later they would be still together and recording new music what would they said back. “I don’t think any band back at that time knew that a rock band could last so long,” he says after stopping to think for a moment. “So now here we are forty years later and we have The Rolling Stones still going strong. And then we you come to heavier bands you have Judas Priest and you have Black Sabbath just saying goodbye, so of course from today’s perspective we have some hope that we can continue this new beginning for at least another five years or more. But back then we were living in the right now, we were living in the present not in the past or the future, we were never thinking too far ahead, everything was in the right now. That was just the way it was then.”

As Shermann continues to look back to the past I asked him how it felt for them when they got there first recording contract. “Back then it was all about getting that contract,” he says. “That made you feel like you had made it. We made our first demo recording in April 1981, then later in that year we did three or four more demo tapes and those tapes were floating around in Holland and in San Francisco for some reason. Then eventually we got approached by a Dutch record label who offered for us to record a four song EP, we signed the contract and then we felt like ‘wow we have made it.’ That was just the way it was back then!”

 

The Mercyful Fate re-issues will be released by Metal Blade Records over the following months so please keep an eye out for them.

 

I almost feel that I need to preface this article before I continue. I am not some kind of music snob, nor am I somebody that believes that hard rock or metal is the only kind of music worth listening to. A quick look at my album collection and yes you will find things as extreme as Cannibal Corpse and you will find things as commercial as Green Day or Bon Jovi. Likewise when you come to genres nestled snugly away with albums by KISS and Metallica you’ll also find music from ABBA, Eminem right through to pop by Kylie Minogue and Pet Shop Boys. My Dad instilled one message into me when he started me on my musical journey and that was “There is good music in every genre, you just need to find it.”

So why the need for such a preface? Well basically because while I’m angry about some of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame snubs I may say some things that might put some readers on the defensive about the kind of music that they listen to. It is a divisive topic so know now that I mean no offence.

Over the past twenty-four hours social media has blown up about this year’s Hall Of Fame inductees. Somehow the Dave Matthews Band managed to win the popular vote with millions of votes from the public but never actually made the final cut while the likes of Judas Priest, Soundgarden, Motorhead and Thin Lizzy were all given a royal snubbing. In fact the entire public voting system was treated as a joke this year with four out of the Top Five voted artists all missing out on actually being inducted.

When you consider that Judas Priest, Soundgarden, Motorhead and Thin Lizzy now join a list that includes the likes of Pat Benatar, Jane’s Addiction, New York Dolls, War, Rage Against The Machine, Todd Rundgren, Steve Winwood and Sting who have all been nominated but missed out on induction you begin to realise that the list of those who have missed out is almost as impressive as those who have made it.

Those artists not being in the Hall Of Fame while the likes of The Notorious B.I.G., Madonna and Whitney Houston are seems a little bit strange. After all this is supposed to be a rock ‘n’ roll Hall Of Fame while to me those artists firmly fall on the hip-hop, R&B and pop side of things. No disrespect meant to those artists but surely genre has to weigh into the decision at some point.

There is little doubt that the biggest travesty though has to be some of the bands that missed out this year. If Judas Priest, Motorhead and Thin Lizzy don’t deserve to be in the Hall Of Fame then who does? Those bands are not just some of the greatest and influential to ever exist in the rock world, they also changed the world of music forever. Let’s take a look at each band on their merits.

There is little doubt that Judas Priest are one of the greats. Since their inception in 1969 the Brits have sold over fifty million albums worldwide and, as Wacken found out a couple of years ago, are still as strong today as ever. The Grammy award winning Brits are currently completing their nineteenth studio album. Who knows maybe it takes twenty albums to land in a spot in the Hall Of Fame.

Then comes fellow Brits Motorhead. Lead by the legendary Lemmy Motorhead are considered the forefathers of British heavy metal. If there was ever a time for Motorhead to be inducted into the Hall Of Fame it is now – the band officially disbanded in 2015 after the tragic death of Lemmy. That same year saw the death of original drummer Phil Taylor while Eddie Clarke passed away in 2018 and Larry Wallis in 2019. With all founding members of Motorhead now sadly passed away this was the right time for them to rightfully find their way into the Hall Of Fame.

Last, but not least, comes Irish rockers Thin Lizzy. To many they are the band that penned the classic The Boys Are Back In Town but Thin Lizzy’s history goes a lot deeper than that.  Bands such as Alice In Chains, Mastodon and Metallica have all declared that Thin Lizzy were a huge influence on them and their sound. The band also recorded twelve albums and have promised music fans that they are looking to re-form for some gigs in the future.

It might sound harsh but is it time to take another look at how artists are selected for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame? The clear observations to come out of this year’s inductions are that it seems like the public vote counts for nothing and that artists who haven’t quite bided their time or fit the rock genre have somehow been inducted ahead of some of the true legends of the genre. The system seems broken and needs to be fixed as these snubs seem to as disrespectful as they unfair.

 

By Dave Griffiths