From the influential Mercyful Fate to the lesser known Force of Evil and Zoser Mez, guitarist Hank Shermann and Michael Denner have a long history of collaboration. Their latest venture aspires to the sound established by their most famous project as the lineup is rounded out by occasional Fate drummer Snowy Shaw, Demonica bassist Marc Grabowski, and Cage vocalist/King Diamond protégé Sean Peck. The results of Denner/Shermann’s debut EP ultimately don’t reach the heights of Mercyful Fate but they do make for solid power metal.
If going by the production and band performances, Satan’s Host lacks the raw darkness that gave Melissa and Don’t Break The Oath their signature character. The tone is noticeably brighter, the guitars are rather polished, the drums are more active, and the vocal delivery has more in common with Rob Halford’s prototype than King Diamond’s sinister hamminess. This is best demonstrated by “War Witch,” which sounds more like a Cage song than anything Denner or Shermann had done anything before.
Fortunately, the compositions are closer to the spirit than the performances. “New Gods” is a step in the right direction but “Seven Skulls” excels due to the guitars frequently chiming in ghostly melodies and a wider vocal palette fueling the deal with the devil lyrics. One can almost imagine the King himself giving this one a whirl…
Denner/Shermann’s debut EP won’t be making waves in the greater metal community but it’s a promising look at what could be a fun project. The modern production keeps it from hitting the same aesthetic as Mercyful Fate’s best efforts but the songwriting makes it worth checking out for power metal fans. At the very least, it’s good company to keep while you’re holding out hope for that reunion.