After dropping an EP in 2015 to indicate their return to music nearly nine years since the dissolution of Force of Evil, Masters of Evil is the debut full length album from former Mercyful Fate trio, guitarists Michael Denner and Hank Shermann, and drummer Snowy Shaw, with Cage front-man Sean Peck. Pleasingly none of the tracks from the Satan's Tomb EP are on the album, preserving the value of that release, but less positively, the mix problem prevalent on the EP has not been rectified. Despite the primary focus of this band being its two lead guitarists, the guitars remain buried - audible, just muddied - with virtually no bass, while the most prominent sound musically is that of the snare drum snap. This threatens to undermine the good songs here (Pentagram And The Cross, Son of Satan), but the album also lacks any variation. On the EP they managed to demonstrate a few different sides to their sound, the highlight being the slower, doomier Seven Skulls. Here there is no such mixing of styles, and even though the album is only 41 minutes long and is therefore over fairly quickly, it becomes quite a boring, one-dimensional listen. The cliché lyrics about Satan and evil don't help, but nevertheless this could and should have been a better album. Even just fixing the mix problems so that the guitar playing, of which there is a lot, is brought to the fore alongside Peck's vocals, would have improved matters significantly. At least then, even with weak lyrics and a formulaic approach to the songs, it would have been a great sounding demonstration of pure metal.Written by Andy Lye
More: 2016, Albums, Heavy Metal, Quickplay Reviews, Denner/Shermann
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