MERCYFUL FATE, Time (1994, Metal Blade)

The skull:
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.

The music:
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

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