Mercyful Fate, 'Melissa' (1983)
I almost forgot about including Mercyful Fate. I was looking through my records and I'm like, "Oh, God, Mercyful Fate." On Melissa, in particular, it was Mercyful Fate finding their sound. And that's what the band, had they stayed together, would probably have sounded like to this day. It has great songwriting. I love the guitar duo of Michael Denner and Hank Shermann. And King Diamond has a completely unique style of singing and you either love it or hate it. Anybody would have a hard time finding fault in Melissa. It's just really well done.
There was definitely a Mercyful Fate influence on [Slayer's] Hell Awaits. You can tell by the super long songs with, like, 10,000 riff changes. That was definitely a Mercyful Fate influence. You can hear that on Melissa on "Into the Coven" and "Melissa" – every time I hear that, it's such a sad song, it stays with me for like a day. I'll just sing it in my head.
Actually, in 2015, on the last Mayhem Fest we played, I actually got onstage with King Diamond and played "Evil" for, like, eight shows. That was a gigantic thrill for me, and it was a gigantic thrill for King, too. And I don't think of myself in that context; I'm like, "That's King Diamond. What the hell do you want me onstage for?" But he was really into it, and if you told teenage Kerry that someday I would be onstage with King Diamond playing Mercyful Fate songs, I'd go, "Fuck right off." Even though Melissa came out the same year as [Slayer's] Show No Mercy, there were preexisting releases – I had the Mercyful Fate EP – so they were bigger than us in my eyes. And I was still a teenager, so I was super impressionable. It was very easy for me to latch onto a hero.