Mercyful Fate emerged from Denmark in the early 80's to become
one of the most important metal bands of the decade.
Characterized by the unique, wailing operatic vocals of one King
Diamond (real name Kim Bendix Peterson), openly Satanic lyrics, and
crushing riffs by the guitarist duo of Hank Shermann and Michael
Denner, the band's first two full-length albums (Melissa and
Don't Break The Oath) are essential 80's metal classics,
with their lyrical stance causing quite the controversy at the time.
But their reign on top was short-lived, as King's Satanic views
weren't shared by the rest of the band, and Shermann's desire to
play a different form of music forced the breakup of the band
Diamond took Denner and bassist Timi Hansen with him
and formed his own group,
while Shermann formed a hard rock band called Fate.
Several years later, Shermann and Denner
hooked up in a little-known project called
which may well have precipitated getting Mercyful Fate back
together, which they finally did in 1993, featuring all of the
original members except drummer Kim Ruzz.
In the 90's and early 2000's both King Diamond (the band) and
Mercyful Fate co-existed, with the bands sort of taking turns releasing
albums and touring, and the lineups for both bands mutating frequently.
As of this writing (2015), Mercyful Fate,
having not recorded since 1999, is inactive though not
formally disbanded, with King leaving open the possibility of new life
for the band in the future.