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Rudolph, Mark (editor)
Satan Is Alive-A Tribute to Mercyful Fate (Book review)
Released: 2013, CV Comics
This month I have decided to review two books by Illustrator Mark Rudolph. Mark has had his artwork published in any number of Metal magazines and in 2012 he decided to do a book, a graphic novel more precisely, about Mercyful Fate. In 2013 SATAN IS ALIVE became quite an underground success and he continued on with a next graphic novel in 2014, a tribute to Celtic Frost. I have reviewed both and interviewed Mark this month. (March 2015) Please enjoy all three parts of this feature.
SATAN IS ALIVE as the sub-title suggests is a tribute to Mercyful Fate and to clarify…not specifically King Diamond himself. The book is graphic novel, black & white and is about 150 pages long. Rudolph has collected over 30 pieces of art or statements from the Metal community about the role and influence of Mercyful Fate. He was able to get some pretty heavy hitters to participate including Fenriz and Phil Anselmo. The musicians tended to write short essays and some underground cartoonists from Europe and North America provide art of all sorts. Fair warning: This is not for kids!
One feature I really liked was Rudolph’s Mercyful Fate visual timeline of the history of the band. Although they have not had a very complicated history, compared to some, and it does not include all the countless spin-off bands of ex-members, it is a very cool piece of work. The styles of the short pieces of art range from realistic to funny, to evil and back and there is even a bit of a spoof of the popular and long-running children’s mystery series (called Encyclopedia Brown) with Kim (King Diamond) as the youthful sleuth solving a crime.
One thing I noticed but was not especially surprised about was that most of the contributors focused their artistic tributes to the first couple of Mercyful Fate albums. I would suggest that for most observers it is the first pair of albums MELISSA and DON’T BREAK THE OATH are the iconic albums that most people in the early extreme music scene drew inspiration from. There was some hype and excitement about the return of Mercyful Fate in 1993 with IN THE SHADOWS but in my estimation the last four albums lacked a bit of identity, suffering perhaps from revolving door line-up’s, and simple titles and in some cases non-descript album art. I personally really enjoy those albums just as much so it was nice to see, for example attribute to the songs ‘The Mad Arab’ from TIME to mix it up a bit and the follow up ‘Kutulu’ from INTO THE UNKNOWN.
As Fate (!) would have it, I discovered the existence of this book shortly after the publication of Rudolph other book, MORBID TALES-A Tribute to Celtic Frost. This leads to be believe (as I commented in my other review) that hopefully this is the first in a four-part series which will include a tribute to Venom and a tribute to Bathory. The unholy quartet indeed! I can’t think of a finer tribute to Mercyful Fate and the timing is perfect especially now since King Diamond is healthy, on tour once again and experiencing a resurgence in popularity after six or seven years of inactivity. Even if Mercyful Fate never records another note, this tribute will stand as fitting legacy to that influential and respected band.
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