Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mercyful Fate - Black Masses (1983)

In December 1983, Music For Nations released the Black Masses single, by Mercyful Fate. This was not too long after their full-length debut, Melissa. In essence, this was more of a collector's item, as the main song was a revamped track from their demo days.

The original version of "Black Masses" was titled "You Asked For It" and appeared on the first Mercyful Fate demo in 1981. It's difficult to compare them, as the original really doesn't feel like it belongs with the rest of the band's material, quite honestly. "Black Masses" features different lyrics, though the vocal arrangements are very similar. The most notable change is during the chorus. Hearing the demo version first, it took a little time to get used to the newer recording, but it is actually more suitable for Mercyful Fate, in this incarnation. Still, there's something about the atmosphere that is more light than dark, despite their efforts to alter it. It wouldn't have been entirely out of place if they had chosen to include it on Melissa, but I'm thankful that they did not do so. It's a good song, but the inferior nature of the previous version cannot be fully erased.

The B-side for this single is a different version of "Black Funeral", a song that appeared on the debut. It sounds like a demo or rehearsal, being more raw and featuring none of the vocal layering that was on the album. It comes across as rather flat and dull, by comparison.

Black Masses is interesting enough as a collector's item, but not exactly essential. It's superior to everything they pu tout after reuniting, but not worth going to great lengths to obtain.