Monday, January 11, 2010

Before E-Mail: Mercyful Fate

Another exciting installment of Before E-Mail!

Umlaut's old friend K.J. Doughton found this letter from a long, long time ago in a galaxy that was WAY more Metal than you will ever be. It was sent to K.J. in the Fall of 1982 by Mercyful Fate's manager John Kibble not long after the release of Mercyful Fate's debut EP. Reading this letter from the last century is the closest thing you'll ever get to time travel:

Dear KJ,

Hi, it's really nice to hear from you again. First off, thanks immensely for the package. The Cintron I didn't have and indeed should have. It's very enjoyable, especially NEVER TO RETURN. Thanks also for the Witchkiller review and tape. Trouble, which I really like, very Sabs but great. The Witchkiller just made issue #1 and should be ready in 14 days. A friend and co-editor is compiling and printing issue one and I'm up to my neck in MF just now. It'll probably be my pleasure to do Issue #2 so keep the reviews, etc. coming won't you.

Listen, you didn't mention what size shirt you wanted so I put in large. If I've grossly miscalculated then sell it and forward the money for a correct size. As for Virgin Steele, don't worry about the album. I picked up a copy from the company that's released it in the UK. On the question of Danger Zone, it was a post-Brats experiment involving Michael Denner, Timi Grabber and King Diamond.

As for the Brats LP, it is very difficult to find having been deleted for a while and only available on CBS Holland anyway. If ever I turn a copy up I'll keep it for you. Promise. You mentioned the Overlord and Demon Flight EP's,. Can you please get me one of each and send them. i'll be glad to pay the cost or find some things for you. Vinyl/tape. A couple of tapes to interest you might be 58 minutes of the new Manoward LP - sorely won't all get released. Also 2 Danish demos from great new bands: Pretty Maids 10-tracks, Witchcross, 2 tracks.

Listen, on April 15th MF's BBC Session is played and I'll send you a copy when it's broadcast. 3 songs recorded 10 days ago and the best work they've done yet. Satan's Fall, Evil, Curse of the Pharoahs (rewritten). MF just did a week in England including 2 gigs and a Kerrang photo sessions. King Diamond interviewed with Malcom Dome, and the BBC session.

Also, the biggest news. The band has left Rave-On and we are currently looking for a label to record our album for. We should have some badges/patches/posters soon. I'll keep you informed. Until then, wear the shirt with pride and believe me, we appreciate your support. Write soon.

All the Best,

John Kibble
Mercyful Fate

From Kerrang! Issue #15 - May 1982 (From the Umlaut Archives)

Much has been made over the years about how Metallica used tape trading in the early-80's to build a sizeable underground following worldwide with their cassette demo tapes. While this is absolutely true, I have to say that the first Metal band to make an impact on me via that early tape trading scene was Mercyful Fate, whose tapes I received at least a couple of months before Metallica's demo.

The first Fate tapes to make it to San Francisco were live recordings that basically served as "live" demos, including one set recorded when they opened for Gillan, which was a WTF bizarre bill even back then (that show is mentioned in the above Kerrang! article). Those early live Fate recordings became iconic to us, not only because of the heavy mind blowing Satanic Metal, but because of King Diamond's between song banter. His rants included dialogue such as "Do you want HEAVY?! We'll give you HEAVY!!" said in his scary Danish accent. It must be noted that James Hetfield (an early Fate fan of course) copped that line and still uses it onstage today. Umlaut traded letters with John Kibble back then too but, alas, all I have in the Umlaut Archives is the copy of Fate's 1st demos with Kibble's handwritten track listing:

Despite this early groundswell of Mercyful Fate fans in The Bay Area, we would still have to wait 2 years before Fate finally toured the U.S., but they did play two Northern California shows on their debut tour:

Sacramento and San Francisco - October 1984
(From the Umlaut Archives)

In the future will people get as much nostalgia from finding old e-mails and attachments?? I'm happy I grew up when I did...

"No way to survive this evil night... If the dead won't leave you alone."