Mercyful Fate at The Masonic Temple in Detroit, MI

Mercyful Fate @ Masonic Temple, Detroit | Photo by Jena McShane

Danish metal gods Mercyful Fate blew minds and raised hell with an intricate stage show and face-melting performance in Detroit.

The groundbreaking metal band reunited for their first tour in more than 20 years, and they did not miss a beat. 

Cleveland-based thrashers Midnight were the first to unleash the mayhem. The three-piece band was cloaked in black hoods that completely covered their faces as they jumped off their amps to “F**king Speed and Darkness” from their 2020 album Rebirth of Blasphemy. From there, it was one high-octane track after another as band leader Athenar mixed their early stuff alongside the new, with the highlight of their set probably being an extended guitar solo on “White Hot Fire” from their 2012 release Complete and Total Hell.

Next up, German thrash metal icons Kreator took the stage. With a horned demon backdrop behind the drum kit and corpses draped in red cloth hanging overhead, lead singer Mille Petroza launched into “Violent Revolution” from their 2001 album of the same name. The set was aggressive, angry, and musically very tight – everything you have come to expect from the European metal legends. 

Kreator put out a new album just this year, Hate Uber Alles, and fans were given a taste of two tracks from that release, the first being the title track. Toward the end of the set came “Strongest of the Strong.” Given the song title, it seemed appropriate that before launching into the track, Petroza parted the crowd creating an old-school wall of death, and then urged the two sides to smash into each other as the band began banging their heads and thrashing their guitars. 

Finally, it was time to hear what everyone had waited so to experience, Mercyful Fate. King Diamond and the rest of the original lineup from 1980 were back together again for the first time since the late 1990s. The only exception was that bassist Joey Vera had already committed to a tour with his longtime band Armored Saint. In his place, British bassist Becky Baldwin put in a faultless performance, which should surprise no one given her previous work with groups like Fury, Control the Storm, and Triaxis. 

The stage was everything fans have come to expect from the Satanic mind of King Diamond. The multi-level setup featured an upside-down cross centered between two stone arches. A goat hide pentagram hung above the drums, and smoke billowed across the stage. Frontman King Diamond made his entrance adorned with an evil goat mask and carrying his signature upside-down cross microphone. It was at that point that all hell broke loose. 

Starting with “The Oath,” King’s legendary vocal range was on full display. Bjarne Holm’s tight drumming and Hank Shermann’s heavy riffs played off each other like the group had been together this whole time. They then dipped into the 1990s with “A Corpse Without Soul” before giving the fans a taste of their latest work. 

King Diamond introduced “The Jackal of Salzburg,” which is a track they are working on for their upcoming album. The song builds slowly, but by the end, heads are banging to some classic heavy metal riffs. By the time their new song ended, King had removed the goat mask to rock out the rest of the night with the trademark corpse paint and crown. 

After that, Mercyful Fate mostly weaved through their 1980s material, with the final encore of the night being “Satan’s Fall” from their 1983 album Melissa. As the band held their arms in the air, the crowd roared their appreciation knowing they had just witnessed something few metal heads had seen in a generation.  

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About Jena McShane 27 Articles
Jena McShane is a Lansing, MI based photographer specializing in candid portraiture, live music, and stormy landscapes.