Mercyful Fate was one of the very popular and influential bands from Denmark when it formed in 1981. Predating both Meshuggah and Testament, they impressed their fans with their distinctive sound and unique visual look. Their iconic logo, the crossover with just two things constitute the words “Mercyful Fate” remains a symbol for this day. Despite their popularity, why did Mercyful Fate break up? Let’s look at some of their historical elements that may have contributed for their break.
The first major reason that they broke up was that the reduction of bassist Martin van Beek. He left to carry on additional projects while maintaining his place as lead singer. Having only been shaped for a brief time, there wasn’t enough time to bring a second bassist to replace Martin, so in June of 1982 they added Van Beek, replacing him on several tunes. With him , vocals and guitar were handled divan, and bassist Kim Deal was added to the group.
Another important element was that the band’s design, which was greatly affected by doom metal and hard rock. It had been apparent from the start that they were going to embrace a similar sound, and actually their very first demonstration included an intense prog metal trail,”Dawn of Machines”. Their first record, titled Survive, Kaleidoscope, was far less successful than their sophomore, Obscura, however, it had been the beginning of a revolution for its genre. They moved ahead with several lineup changes, adding vocalist Michael J. Fox (later to play bass for Metallica) and guitarist Kim Deal, who would go on to play with such well-known functions as Rush, Black Sabbath, Black Label Society, Cream, Motley Crew, and a lot of other popular acts.
The first vocalist, Michael J. Fox, along with guitarist Kim Deal, stayed together for the rest of their careers, rejoining the initial lineup for its third album, Overkill. Finally, all those members joined forces again with the group named Mercyful Fate. Overkill featured more guest stars, including Ulrich, featuring a duet with former Ozzy Osbourne, Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and former Skid Row manhood, Kiko Loukinen. The first lineup also returnedthis time with guitarist Kerry Ellis on vocals, and bassist Ray Toro. The band’s newest album, Fall of Giants, includes new members including former Skid Row members, guitarist Carlham Bell, and beginners Andy Bell (vocals/guitar), Greg Gutzerman (bass), and Kris Mars (drums).
The band’s self-titled last studio record, No Rest For the Weary, premiered in 2021 by Fuel/RCA. It wasn’t a massive sales achievement, but it was a critical and commercial success, selling more copies than any of the previous records. Lead singer, Hank Shermann, obtained much of the credit for its achievement, as he wrote most of the songs. This included the hit single “Praying,” which peaked at number 13 on the Hot Country Songs chart. While the group didn’t tour, a lot of their fans became disenchanted with the direction the band was taking and ceased listening to this group entirely.
Together with the lineup changes, the Force Of Evil is much better able to attract mainstream audiences, that helped their earnings. Nonetheless, the fact remains that they have not developed into a mainstream act like Metallica or Iron Maiden, nor have they sold millions of documents. However, the group has always been successful and will probably continue to be popular for their first design of thrash metal music, mixed with a modern edge that draws in many listeners.