MERCYFUL FATE, Time (1994, Metal Blade)
This band can lay claim to one of the greatest skull covers of all time, 1983’s Melissa, although that screaming skull was deemed too fancy/arty/busy by the Council to enter our Skullection. The Time skull, however, is picture-perfect full-on skullacious skullness. We get it: time ravages all but the bones. Great. This is an unimaginative yet somehow striking enough cover. Just a plain old skull, its left side in the shadows, the cap at some point sawed laterally for shits ‘n’ giggles. The epitome of what we’re looking for with the Skullection; it’s big, although certainly not the dumbest.
Time came out around the time that King Diamond’s vocals started to cross the fine line from chillingly awesome to self-caricature. It’s also when he stopped using reverb on his voice — big mistake. His vocals are on the dry side, as is the overall production. There are some great riffs here, and of course those Shermann/Denner solos are nothing less than excellent; they work even on the worst songs (“Witches’ Dance,” “The Mad Arab”). I’m a huge fan of this band but don’t listen to Time a lot. When I do, moments to look forward to include “Angel of Light” and one of few Fate classics outside of the ’80s, “Lady in Black.”
— Friar Wagner