Denner:Shermann - Masters of EvilWell, the day has come once more. The AMG staff is ashamed, Dr. Grier is a giddy school girl, and pure fanboyism is about to play out. Yep, the full-length debut from Denner/Shermann has finally hit the record shelves. “Oh, shit…,” you might be saying. Or maybe “Fuck me, here comes another 5.0/5.0.” But, keep this in mind: at least it isn’t a new King Diamond record. By now it is no surprise that I love everything that King, Shermann, and Denner touch. Last year’s four-song EP, Satan’s Tomb, got more than a little bit of love from me (many will say too much love). Though some of the excitement has faded since October, I still listen to that thing on a regular basis. Nostalgia and a twenty-minute runtime result in constants playback in the Grier station wagon [Those Right Said Fred EPs just never get olde, eh?Steel Judgment]. But what happens when you slap four more songs onto the disc and jack the length up to forty minutes? A gushing review? Childish tears from Doc? Hell no, I’m a professional.

My biggest fear going into Denner/Shermann‘s Masters of Evil were the vocals. Sean Peck’s Halford style is, for the most part, pretty one dimensional. But what makes the style work are his occasional gruffs and grunts. But when comparing his performance on Satan’s Tomb to Force of Evil‘s Martin Steene, Steene is more well-rounded. What has me rooting for Peck though is his ability to let the other instruments take the lead. Something Steene seemed unable to do; filling every nook and cranny of every song with his voice. But one time through Masters of Evil and Peck has surprised the shit out of me. His performance is quite the improvement on Satan’s Tomb (and I liked his voice on the EP). With full-length room to spread his wings, Peck unleashes everything he’s got—much like Illwill. He lets loose a combination of high-pitched Halford wails, deep-throated barks, and Ozzy-like emotion to tracks like “The World Feeds at Night” and “The Baroness.” His performance will never convert those Mercyful Fate reunion seekers, but it works.

“Angel’s Blood” opens the album with about as much energy and Mercyful Fate-esque qualities as “Satan’s Tomb” did for the EP. Peck unleashes his Halford-esque best on the mid-career MF structure. It’s got killer solos, melodic passages, and a “classic metal” tramp stamp on its ass. Other straight-and-narrow cruisers are the all-out MF title track and “Pentagram and the Cross.” The foundation of the former is the  chorus while the catchy guitar leads of the latter marry themselves to Peck’s snarls.

Denner:Shermann 2016

For melody and/or variation, look no further than “The World Feeds at Night,” “Servants of Dagon,” and “The Baroness.” Peck digs deep into his inner Ozzy on “The World Feeds at Night” as the song burrows into its inner melody. “The Baroness” swings around groovy riffs and Melissa-like clean guitars while Peck gives a voice to the song’s characters. To these ears, “The Baroness” seems to be a continuation to the closer of Satan’s Tomb. You know, that one about a boy resurrecting his grandfather (I know, too Them-y). “Servants of Dagon” focuses on simplicity, unleashing one of the catchiest riffs of the album. Combining said riff with a memorable chorus, it turns out to be my favorite.

In the end, Masters of Evil is just fun. Nothing earth-shattering, nothing crippling. The bass has lots of presence (especially on “Servants of Dagon”) and the drums? Well, Snowy Shaw is behind the kit, which means the performance is above average. Look to tracks like “Escape from Hell” to find his trademark badassery. Album issues include the cringe-worthy lyrics on “Escape from Hell” (which is way too similar in title to Force of Evil‘s “Back to Hell”) and “Son of Satan.” The latter is one of the best on the album, but serious? “Son of Satan?” Fans of FoE‘s Black Empire album might be wondering if this a “S.O.S.” rehashing. It isn’t, but I swear the main riff of the former is the closing riff of the latter. The production on Masters of Evil feels a bit flat, but this may be the result of cutting back on the FoE and Demonica distortion, in favor of that old-school feel. It takes a couple spins to appreciate, but the diehard fan should love this.

Rating: Very Good
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Metal Blade 

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  • Don’t Break the Copyright Law!

  • ARelativelyNewPerson

    Sweet Don’t Break the Oath style artwork

    • IBlackened

      Also, the skull reminds me of Melissa.

  • Wilhelm

    I’d say that I was looking forward to the rest of the album, and in fact I’ll give it a go, but judging from this song and the last EP, it sounds kind of generic and lacking a vital something. The vocals lack diversity, guitar riffs sound like Mercyful Fate left on the cutting room floor, and no emphasis on theatrics, creativity, or mindfulness outside of having fun. On the upside, there is drive, and energy, and the production/DR is respectable but I just keep thinking what this would sound like vocally, and compositionally, if King was behind the helm. I’m still holding my breath for a full blown MF reunion, not that I see much hope for it, but it’s nice to dream.

    • Innit Bartender

      My thought exactly. I wanted to like the EP so bad, but nothing stuck to memory. I’m giving this a try for sure. Also, the last MF album was, what, 9? No good memories of that as well.

      • Wilhelm

        yep 9 was a weak album, my bottom MF record for sure.

  • Refined-Iron Cranium

    From the last EP and from what I’ve heard from this album, I have only one major gripe – the vocals. It’s not the vocalist’s tone or pitch, but he just seems to be singing all over the place. I’ve always believed that, especially with ‘operatic’ style vocals, a singer should be able to create some catchy hooks to make the music more memorable. This guy seems to replace that by raising his voice a few octaves at random points, making this feel messy and boring. The best way I can describe these vocals is that they feel like extreme metal vocals being translated into clean vocals. It just doesn’t sound right.

    • Taleim

      My thoughts exactly, you summed up my thoughts of the vocals perfectly.

    • mchenrynick

      Yes I agree. Something is lost with Sean Peck’s vocals in this band. Being big into Mercyful Fate & King Diamond in the 80s & 90s, as well as digging Death Dealer, I expected this to be a giant hit! However, Sean’s vocals are trying too hard to be some kind of hybrid of Rob Halford & King Diamond. He sticks more to just a Halford style in Death Dealer and he sounds great!
      This proves that mixing great musicians together doesn’t always translate well.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Triggers Merciful Fate binge…

  • Excentric_13073

    …I don’t hear any bass. Says there’s a DR of 8 on this, but I get lots of vocals and lots of guitar in the mix, and not much else. Kinda misses some of the powerful feeling that a solid low end would impart.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      If you’re looking for it in the embedded track, you’re not going to find it. Bass is elsewhere on the album.

  • Bart the Repairman

    Initially I’ve read „Derek Sherinian”. Half a second of excitement.

  • Scourge

    Looking forward to this. I preordered a while ago as soon as I realized this was coming out based solely on how much I liked the ep. The promo track that’s embedded isn’t my favorite, but I have faith that I’ll enjoy this nonetheless.

  • De2013

    Brought me back to JP’s Pain Killer! Embedded song sounds cool.
    Excellent review Dr!