Mercyful Fate - Don't Break the Oath (1984), 5/10

The obvious but necessary critique here of King Diamond’s silly vocals once again pervades the whole track list. The man seems to have a talent for flaring up my tinnitus and creating a frustratingly odd pair of great metal albums with impressive technique hindered by poor form. There are some killer riffs and exceptional musicianship that are utterly drowned and inhibited by the vocal style, but even more importantly by the timing and creative choices behind the vocals. Momentum builds up just enough to get you going before a clownish chorus kicks back in. This is even more frustrating than on their debut Melissa because some of these songs are quite good as heavy metal tracks without their clear and obvious weakness, and if you can separate the two, there are some great, epic songs underneath, but it is unnecessary when there are so many great heavy metal albums that don’t fall prey to this awful shrieking style. Oddly, within this particular album, sometimes the vocals work but these moments are too few and far between to have any lasting positive impact on the grander listening experience. I have given Mercyful Fate more than a fair chance with many repeated listens, especially of their first two records, but I will likely never succumb to the indoctrination that is enjoying the oafish vocal styles of King Diamond. “The Oath” and “Gypsy” are particularly strong and are not overtly held back by the infamous leading man, but the rest are shackled to mediocrity from a compromised thematic silliness.