Denner / Shermann – Masters of Evil (Metal Blade 2016)

Michael Denner and Hank Shermann have tried multiple times and in multiple constellations to get a band going after Mercyful Fate without reaching the quality of the Fate material. They’re definitely getting closer, but they’re not quite there.

This is a step up from the EP released in 2015, at least in songwriting. One of the chief improvements is the riffs. Just like in the good old Fate tunes, the songs are filled to the brink with riffs, leads and fills. Most of them are good, some riffs are great. Some force out the airguitars, some of the solos are way up there with Satan’s Fall or Curse of the Pharoes.

Marc Grabowski, on bass, has a modern sound, but is not very inventive. The bass is pure rhythm instrument and doesn’t really bring anything to the table. Snowy Shaw on the drums does a bang up job. He was a little too loud on the EP, and took up too much space. On this album the balance between the instruments is better. The production is quite good, well balanced and distinct, and with a guitar sound and tone that’s easily recognizable.

My main issue is with Sean Peck on vocals. Weak vocal performances has been the downfall of many of Shermanns past projects, and it could be the bane of this one as well. When the songwriting is this riff laden, the vocals need to carry the melody and the tune, which Peck sadly can’t do. Most of the lyrics are on par with King Diamonds words of the old days, although some get a little cartoony for me.

Son of Satan is rifftastick. I love the guitarwork. It might not be a masterpiece, but it’s heavy and blistering. Servants of Dagon is also a favorite, it has more of 90s feel to it, but the melody and the rhythm rocks. Pentagram and the Cross is also a nice heavy tune.

 

Recommended tracks: Son of Satan, Servants of Dagon

Rating: 3,5 / 5

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