"Dead Again", released almost exactly one year ago, was a fine album. Somehow, however, it never grew on me as much as the previous albums did. In fact, though it's a fine album, I'd rate "Dead Again" as my least favourite Mercyful Fate CD. Was it Michael Denner's leaving? Or the weird half-spoken bits ("I am an orchestra")? I don't know. I can't quite put my finger on it.

This won't happen with "9", the band's new offering. After two or three whirs in the CD player it left me pretty much a happy camper, aurally.

Although the album was claimed to be a return to their pre-reunion roots, that's a pretty weird assumption. They made some awesomely classic tracks back in the eighties, but they have grown and differentiated. "Satan's Fall" or "Curse of the Pharaohs" will never be improved upon, and it's unfair to expect it of the band. What I expect to hear is a cool album with Shermann's rapid fire song structures and King's soaring vocals, high and low. And that's exactly what "9" is. Although there are fewer vocal embellishments (like King's multi-layered harmonies I remember from "Time"), once again it's an album that will sonically drill your fillings loose if you're not used to the plentitude of ultra-sonics that will make the dogs in the wide surrounders turn their heads in wonder. King is ever-present, and I listened and thought it was good.

"9" is full of climaxes. In fact, only the first two tracks could be classified as a tad 'sub-standard' and the short "Insane" is too fast and chaotic for me. Other than those, it's all climax. "Sold my Soul" has cool multi-layered vocals that I know and love, "House on the Hill" is a classic song despite the lyrics that couldn't have been more predictable, and "Kiss the Demon" is another superb song. Although less experimental as the title track of the previous album, the new album's title track is again off the beaten track without alienating the listener. I like the album especially during the slower section as opposed to the more Gutrix-like up-tempo parts which I guess might be Bjarne Holm's influence on the last two albums.

Now can someone tell me the significance of the number '9'? I also remember the "18 will become 9" in early King Diamond tracks. Maybe I ought to brush up (but first expand) my knowledge of the occult here.

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Written May 1999


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