Inside the long-awaited return of Mercyful Fate: metal guitar’s most unholy band

Mercyful Fate
(Image credit: Sylwia Makris)

Whether playing to packed US clubs or to tens of thousands of metalheads at Germany’s Wacken Open Air festival, there’s been nothing but love shown to Mercyful Fate since the Danish metal legends emerged from a 23-year live hiatus last summer. 

Back in the Satanic Panic era of the 1980s, though, the quintet’s mix of occult themes and menacing riff-play was just as likely to make fans of horns-raising youth as it was to meet with the pearls-clutching consternation of parents’ groups and clergymen, who worried the band were nudging kids ever closer to the Dark Lord. 

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Gregory Adams

Gregory Adams is a Vancouver-based arts reporter. From metal legends to emerging pop icons to the best of the basement circuit, he’s interviewed musicians across countless genres for nearly two decades, most recently with Guitar World, Bass Player, Revolver, and more – as well as through his independent newsletter, Gut Feeling. This all still blows his mind. He’s a guitar player, generally bouncing hardcore riffs off his ’52 Tele reissue and a dinged-up SG.