Dark Ripples in Time… Black Metal Moments from the Past Part 5, Mercyful Fate and King Diamond Interview

Dark Ripples in Time – Black Metal Moments from the Past is a CVLT Nation series featuring interviews from the ’90s, never before published on the web until now.

Journey into the Unknown – An interview with King Diamond

Mercyful Fate may well have a guaranteed place in the Metal history books, but that’s not enough for King Diamond, who’s just released not one but two of his best efforts in years, in the shape of Into The Unknown and his solo album The Graveyard. Chad Hensley pays homage and declares his fealty. There is no doubt that when Melissaunfolded blood stained wings over the world in 1983, Mercyful Fate gained a stronghold within the legions of Black Metal. Thirteen years later, the Satanic forces of King Diamond and his musician minions are ready to storm the earth again. With the simultaneous unsheathing of Mercyful Fate’s Into the Unknown and King Diamond’s The Graveyard, both on Metal Blade, it is time for a special world tour. Diamond explains: “The tour has been well planned. These shows will feature both King Diamond and Mercyful Fate. Each band will play for over an hour. It seems like a new thing to do. The tour is going to be so special. Right now, King Diamond has a new stage being constructed in Copenhagen with a complete graveyard including headstones and coffins. Mercyful Fate will have a full production as well.”

The combined forces of Mercyful Fate and King Diamond will begin this special tour in Brazil. South American shows will also include Monsters of Rock and Argentina. The tour will fly over the States in October, with a Halloween night in New York City. With a little luck, the tour will then invade Japan. A full European schedule follows to include Russia, Poland, Finland, Italy, Spain, Greece and Portugal.

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Unlike many of the early ’80s Black Metal bands, King Diamond has always been an unrepentant Satanist. “I joined the Church of Satan in 1988. If you go by the Satanic philosophies, you realize that each of us is an individual. Each of us is one of a kind, with our own likes and dislikes. Way too many people judge each other by religious beliefs. People should judge each other by personalities because, after all, that is what counts. Religious beliefs should be kept to yourself. I respect all religions as long as they do not try and force me into what they believe or look down upon me because I do not accept the same god. If people would just stop for a half a second and think that if we were all exactly like each other, it would be worthless to live. Likewise, if the world was a paradise. There has to be two opposite poles.

King Diamond’s occult experiences began at an early age. One such experience was in the early days of Mercyful Fate after the recording of their first demo. “Kim Ruzz [Mercyful Fate’s original drummer], my brother, and myself were in my apartment in Copenhagen. We’d just finished recording and had bought a bunch of beers. We were waiting for the other band members to arrive and then we were going to listen to the tape. But we couldn’t decide if we should go ahead and listen to the tape without them or wait. Suddenly, my brother’s glass rose a foot and a half in the air. Then the glass lowered slowly back down to the table. It was really a simple thing. Everyone in the room saw it.”

But Diamond has an explanation for such occurrences. “Every person has a power inside of them. Call it a soul or whatever. I think that this power will have to live through many lives until it has experienced all there is on this earth before moving on. With each life, more power and information is stored. Sometimes, these powers can actually cross over and manifest themselves in this world. Rituals can channel the forces that surround us all the time.”

King is quick to agree that Into the Unknowncaptures much of the same spirit contained on Mercyful Fate’s first two albums. “We decided to use two rhythm guitars, one on each side. That was a challenge in a big way. The harmonies in the song “Into the Unknown” are probably the most complex of any song we’ve done in the past. I think the song would have been at home on Don’t Break the Oath. Try to count the timing in this piece: it’s so screwed up. Then there is the song “Fifteen Men and a Bottle of Rum” which is very slow and sad. When I listen to “Under the Spell”, it has the same beat as much of the early material. But nothing on Into the Unknown is a copy.”

One difference between the works of Mercyful and his band King Diamond is that all of King Diamond’s releases have been concept albums. The Graveyard continues that tradition. “The Graveyard is a very deep and strange horror story. I think that is the most horrible and nasty story I have ever written. But, even when it gets darkest, I guarantee you will laugh your ass off! There are also some parts that are really going to hit you deep in the heart. I’m a character in the story. I will tell you a piece of the tale.”

“One night, I witness a child molestation in a graveyard. I report the guy but the small town blames me. I freak out so bad that I am thrown into an insane asylum. I am imprisoned here for several years and during my stay half of my brain is literally taken. I manage to escape by not taking my medicine. I run to the woods and find a graveyard next to a small church. I commit three murders here. I cut off my victims heads and put them on the wall. For if you are beheaded in a graveyard, your soul can not escape the body and must creep into the head. The heads on the wall begin to whisper to me. I decide to kidnap the child I saw being abused and bring her to the graveyard. I dig up seven graves and bury her in one of them. Her father comes to free her but there must be justice for what he has done. I give him three chances to find the grave that his daughter is buried in.”

King Diamond stops his storytelling and gets a little serious. “I will tell you that many of the songs have double meanings or contain jokes hidden in them. I think child abuse is an important issue that is not talked about enough in our society. On The Graveyardthere will be a phone number for victims and their families to call. If it helps just one child, it will have been worth it.”

(first published in Terrorizer #34, September 1996)

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The Author

Chad Hensley

Chad Hensley

A skilled reporter on cultural extremes in music and art, Bram Stoker Award-nominated author Chad Hensley saw several years of his writing on underground subjects as EsoTerra: The Journal of Extreme Culture through Creation Books in 2011 and available at Amazon.com (read the CVLT Nation review HERE!). Hensley's non-fiction has appeared in such praised publications as Apocalypse Culture 2, Terrorizer, Spin, Rue Morgue, Hustler, Juxtapoz, and Morbid Curiosity. His first book of poetry was published in May of 2014 entitled Embrace the Hideous Immaculate from Raw Dog Screaming Press. Think grotesque, macabre, occult, and Lovecraftian, and you’ll have a good idea of what Hensley’s twisted verse is all about. Hensley currently resides in New Orleans, Louisiana. He and his wife run the vinyl-only record label Last Hurrah Records. Check out www.esoterra.org for more information on his writing.

  • Magda Wintar

    This isn’t really black metal. It doesn’t have anything to do with black metal. Black and white makeup does not equal black metal. The genre discussion is an amusing one, I admit, but mercyful fate’s music doesn’t possess any of the characteristics associated with black metal. I don’t really care what you call it, but there’s people writing dissertations about black metal who are never coming back to the site after seeing this. We have this strange weakness that makes us need to name everything… Seriously though, Samuel Dunn in his first movie goes to Norway and says something about the metal community not supporting church burning or murder. What? Black metal IS arson and murder, if you don’t understand how those two things shaped the collective consciousness and aesthetics of the genre you can’t go and call things black metal. The same is true for this interview. Helping abused kids is not black metal. I know it sounds retarded when I put it like that, but seriously, black metal is some evil shit – it’s the rust stain on European morality, that’s why the music is interconnected with violence. You can’t take something so atavistic and pure and make a label out of it to stick on anything with black and white makeup. Mercyful Fate is children’s music, with funny faces, not unlike Alice Cooper. And if your argument is that I should calm down because it’s just music… well, damn. Tell that to Varg, go tell him that it’s just music and that he should calm down. Truth be told, to us Europeans the church burnings were like revelations. We take that shit very, very seriously. So yeah, mercyful fate ain’t black metal, get your vocab straight mayn.