As we reported last month, Mercyful Fate has announced that they will reunite in the Summer of 2020 at a number of European events. It was announced that the lineup would be King Diamond on vocals, Hank Shermann on guitar, Bjarne T. Holm behind the kit, and Mike Wead also on guitar. Timi Hansen, who is battling cancer, will not be playing. Joey Vera will be standing in his place.
With the exception of Vera, this is the lineup that performed on Fate’s final record, 9, recorded and released twenty years ago. Sharlee D’Angelo actually played bass on that record but he’s apparently busy with Arch Enemy. While Mike Wead did great work on that record, and Wead also was in the band for 1998’s Dead Again, there is no doubt that Michael Denner’s absence in this reunion doesn’t really make this a proper one.
It would be one thing if Denner couldn’t play, but he can most certainly play. In fact, it was just two years ago that we reviewed Denner’s performance, ironically, with Hank Shermann in the aptly named Denner/Shermann. I was able to hear them belt out Fate classics like “Curse of the Pharaohs,” “Evil,” “Into the Coven” and “Black Funeral” and I can certainly attest, Denner handled those tracks like… well… Michael Denner!
While 9 is a vastly underrated record with some killer tracks, Mercyful Fate will always be known for their two groundbreaking LPs, 1983’s Melissa and 1984’s Don’t Break the Oath. Denner was a huge part of those of records and even followed King Diamond into his solo band when Fate broke up.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Mike Wead in King Diamond, and again, he’s great on 9. And certainly, it’s more than appropriate to have Wead play with Fate in 2020 if they’re going to do songs from 9 like “Last Rites” and “Church of Saint Anne” – which I really hope they do. However, when it comes to the early classics, this needs to be Michael Denner’s gig. And that’s what the fans want to see.
Let’s hope that whatever issues exist between King and Michael can get resolved. Michael is really one of the good guys in this scene and he deserves to take the stage with his bandmates in any celebration of Mercyful Fate.
Personally, while I travel to Europe often to see bands quite often, I’m likely going to sit this reunion out if Denner isn’t on stage. I don’t think I’m the only one.
In the meantime, Michael Denner has been working with Denner’s Inferno (which features Bjarne T. Holm on drums). Worth checking out: