"Dead Again" is the 6th full-length studio album by Danish heavy metal act Mercyful Fate. The album was released in June 1998 by Metal Blade Records. The album introduces new guitarist Mike Wead (Memento Mori, Candlemass, Abstrakt Algebra, Kamlath, Hexenhaus, Bibleblack) who replaces Michael Denner.
Besides the change on the guitarist position nothing much has changed since the last album "Into the Unknown (1996)". And then again that´s not entirely true. "Dead Again" is slightly more metallic sounding and sharper than "Into the Unknown", which in large part is due to the more metallic sounding production. The music on the album is heavy metal with blistering melodic solos, a strong rythm section and King Diamond´s distinct high pitched vocals as the focal point. As always the lyrics deal with the occult and other darkside fantasy subjects.
It´s obvious to me that the band must have kicked themselves in the ass after delivering a relatively weak album in "Into the Unknown", as the songs on "Dead Again" generally sound more inspired and sharp than most of the material did on the last album. Tracks like "Torture (1629)", "The Night" and "The Lady Who Cries" are in the same quality, and somewhat in a similar style, as the material on "Time (1994)" and I can assure you that´s not a bad reference coming from me. Unfortunately not all tracks are equally intriguing and especially the 13:40 minute long title track comes off as quite a disappointment. It´s too long and fragmented for its own good IMO.
...so overall I think "Dead Again" is a slight return to form after the mediocre "Into the Unknown" and I enjoy most of the album. There are a couple of more standard tracks on the album, and the above mentioned weak title track, which drags my rating down a bit, but I still think a 3.5 star rating is fully deserved. After all it´s not everyday you are presented with something as unique sounding as Mercyful Fate and just the fact that they have such a unique and easily recognisable sound earn them a lot of credit and respect from me. Add to that excellent musicianship and a powerful production and it´s hard not to call "Dead Again" a quality heavy metal album ( with some flaws).