VARIOUS ARTISTS - "THE UNHOLY SOUNDS OF THE DEMON BELLS - A TRIBUTE TO MERCYFUL FATE" (STILL DEAD PRODUCTIONS)
Mercyful Fate have left an undeniably profound impression on the world of extreme music we live in today. Perhaps that's why they are honoured for a second time, this time by Still Dead Productions with their "The Unholy Sounds of the Demon Bells - a Tribute to Mercyful Fate". Listenable Records' earlier "Mercyful Fate Tribute" was a rather excellent offering marred by only a few bland tracks with lacklustre execution and poor production (Withering Surface, Armageddon), one of the better tribute albums ever released.
Still Dead's tribute, like the other album, has quite a few well-known bands on it. We find contributions by Necrophagia, Vital Remains, Morta Skuld, Varathron, Acheron, Memory Garden and Dan Swano, among others (the original had Immolation, Emperor, Dark Tranquillity, and a guest appearance by Michael Denner, among others). Now it might be me, but the tracks on "The Unholy Sounds of the Demon Bells" sound somehow more enthusiastic and are generally better produced. The choice of tracks is also an interesting one, including "Melissa", "Curse of the Pharaohs" and "At the Sound of the Demon Bell" (though no "Satan's Fall"!). There's more of an accent on recent material, what with "Nightmare be Thy Name", "Egypt" and "Torture (1629)" being present.
"TUSofDB" has quite a few climaxes. There's Acheron's excellent instrumental "Room of Golden Air", Dan Swano's complete and beautifully worked out "Melissa" on which he played every single instrument, Morta Skuld's heavy "Desecration of Souls", Richard Christy's cool drumming in Burning Inside's "Black Funeral", Necrophagia's never-heard-before-and-sounding-sick-as-f@#k vocals on "Devil Eyes" and Doomstone's "At the Sound of the Demon Bell" (musically). There are a few downs too, though, almost all caused by the vocalist: Memory Garden's thus rapes "Nightmare be thy Name", as does Hemisfear with "Black Funeral". Varathron's vocalist is atrocious, and the keyboards too thick, on "Nuns Have no Fun", and the album closes with "Torture (1629)" by T.A.R., which has no redeeming features at all.
As with many tribute albums, you will need to be able to stomach death metal vocals. If you dig that style, however, what you have here is a bunch of cool versions of classic tracks, some arguably superior to the original! The album might be difficult to get, though, so here's some info: Still Dead Productions' address is Ul. Obroncow 2a, PL-03-933 Warsaw, Poland. People who live in the Netherlands can get the album by sending 25 Dutch guilders to Damnation, Hoge Larenseweg 55, 1221 AK, Hilversum (and that includes postage!). I believe they sell to the rest of the world, too, for US$ 17 including postage.
Written October 1999
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