Denner/Shermann – Masters of Evil (Metal Blade)

Friday, 8th July 2016
Rating: 9/10

Given King Diamond’s rejuvenated status as a solo artist following triple bypass surgery, those pining away for a full-on Mercyful Fate reunion probably have a long wait ahead. No matter – we have that classic axe duo of Michael Denner and Hank Shermann back together again, forming Denner/Shermann in 2014 and releasing Satan’s Tomb their debut EP in the fall of 2015, setting the stage for this follow-up full-length. Veteran Cage/Death Dealer vocalist Sean Peck adds his multi-octave, golden pipes to an already potent lineup, coming at a time when this type of traditional-oriented metal has found favor for families thanks to the proliferation of social media outlets.

Capturing a vintage sound in the age of digital studios can be a challenge, but proper know-how allows these eight songs to feel that analog-oriented hum and natural whir so to speak. The natural Snowy Shaw snare snap and tom hits for “Son of Satan” and the sweet harmonization and evil rhythms between the guitarists for “Pentagram and the Cross” lift the hairs across arms and chests, necessitating high fists and headbanging aplenty. Sean uses operatic elements against his already blistering Rob Halford-esque voice, even channeling a bit of Ozzy Osbourne during the slithering mid-section of “The Wolf Feeds at Night”. While numerous younger bands live for the 1970’s, this quintet deliver authenticity because of their natural development through that scene – easily heard in some of the doomy riff choices and slower to charging tempo swings for personal highlight “Servants of Dagon”. The closing song “The Baroness” features some reflective acoustic guitar parts during the latter verses while Sean takes on a multi-layered persona in terms of different voices, possibly serving up his best work with the band to date. And most will love the lead guitar work from Michael and Hank – tasteful, energetic, and purposeful, the way the best in the business should approach things.

Even the Thomas Holm cover reflects back on Don’t Break the Oath in terms of mystique and color scheme – putting Masters of Evil on the fast track to adulation. All Mercyful Fate followers and lords in the metal regime, Denner/Shermann await your presence, as this record delivers prime time heavy metal.

Denner/Shermann official website