Mercyful Fate's Melissa was released 30 years ago today. One of the earliest Roadrunner releases, and the first to truly break the label out of the metal underground, it remains an astonishingly powerful record. (It was also one of the first Roadrunner titles to appear on CD, as this 2012 article discusses.) Melissa is such a crucial Roadrunner release that its opening track, "Evil," is also the opening track on our new four-CD box, XXX: Three Decades of Roadrunner Records.
Musically, it's a landmark, too. The twin guitar leads of Michael Denner and Hank Shermann, bolstered by the locked-in rhythm section of bassist Timi Hansen and drummer Kim Ruzz, created a powerful new, thoroughly European metal sound that combined the heaviness and instrumental flourishes of Rainbow with the aggression of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. But it was vocalist King Diamond who truly captured the metal world's attention—the combination of his striking black-and-white face paint and his amazing voice, which could leap from a hideous growl to a piercing falsetto scream in a single measure, was impossible to ignore. And of course, the album is just jammed with classic tracks, from the opening one-two punch of "Evil" and "Curse of the Pharoahs" to the haunting, album-ending title song. Melissa is truly one of the greatest metal albums of all time.
Stream it below on Spotify, and watch the band play "Evil" in 1984 above: