TVD Live Shots: Mercyful Fate with Kreator and Midnight
at the Fillmore Silver Spring, 11/8

In the early ’80s, a new form of heavy metal music emerged with the first wave of black metal bands. Characterized by a thrash or speed metal sound, the lyrics of black metal songs were defined by the use of anti-Christian and Satanic themes. The term “black metal” was coined by the English band Venom, with their 1982 album Black Metal, and the first wave of black metal bands came from Europe.  Mercyful Fate, hailing from Denmark, was part of this first wave.

After a career spent influencing bands like Metallica and Slayer, Mercyful Fate went on hiatus in 1999 and, after regrouping a for a few performances, returned to performing on a more permanent basis in 2019. In October, Mercyful Fate kicked off their first official North American tour since 1999 and brought the black metal party to the Fillmore Silver Spring on Tuesday night.

The Fillmore was packed to the point of making me feel claustrophobic and was filled with fans who ranged from the (very) old school to kids with corpse paint. With beer flowing from the bars, it was carefully controlled chaos. At 9:20, the curtain dropped from the stage revealing an elaborate stage set, complete with an upside down cross.  The band (comprised of founding guitarist Hank Shermann, drummer Bjarne T. Holm, guitarist Mike Wead, and bassist Becky Baldwin) took their positions on stage first.

King Diamond, in full makeup and a horned mask (he’s thought to be the first in metal to don corpse paint), then floated down a staircase and the crowd went wild. The performance lasted just over an hour with a set list of only eleven songs, with a large chunk coming from their 1983 album Melissa. It was a memorable and historic show, a fantastic performance by one of heavy metal’s greatest bands.

Joining Mercyful Fate on this historic tour was Midnight and Kreator. I was excited to see that the “filthy, belligerent, and obnoxious” Midnight was on the bill; I shot them a few years ago when they toured with Electric Wizard and had a great time. I must have looked like a doofus in the photo pit wearing my pink cardigan and big grin as the masked Cleveland trio thrashed their way through songs like “Fucking Speed and Darkness” and “Szex Witchery,” but I don’t care, they’re a lot of fun.

It’s appropriate that German band Kreator is on the tour. Formed in 1982, they too are considered one of the pioneers of death and black metal. The band’s style has evolved over the years; they’ve settled back into their classic thrash sound. Their set lasted about 45 minutes and featured a quick intermission. The set list spanned the band’s career.

Mercyful Fate’s tour continues into mid-November, wrapping up at Atlanta’s Tabernacle.




The Oath
A Corpse Without Soul
The Jackal of Salzburg
Curse of the Pharaohs
A Dangerous Meeting
Doomed by the Living Dead
Black Funeral
Come to the Sabbath

Satan’s Fall

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