Best Mercyful Fate Riff: “Into the Coven” vs “Evil”


Today in RIFF or RAFF we are celebrating the timeless riffs of Mercyful Fate! Our combatants have come prepared with some heavy weaponry. It’s up to you to decide who brought the best riff.

LAST WEEK we explored the long and savage discography of Incantation. Dr. K and I were neck and neck for a little while… then it all went to shit. Congratulations Jason! You win a prize! Also, go to hell.


NEXT WEEK is a ****SPECIAL OCCASION***. Your mission is to submit the best riff of 2016. That’s right. Send me the best riff that was released on an unsuspecting public this year. Every entry I receive will be put into a battle royale for riff supremacy. We’re doing it Riff ov the Week style.

-Write a brief statement about why your riff rules

-Include a link to stream your selection, the timestamp for your riff, and your screen name

-Email me at

THIS WEEK it’s all about the Danish king.

I am aware that the most outstanding part of this song are the solos, not that there’s anything below average about it. There are three of them and all amazingly performed. The riffs are good as well, they’re standard Mercyful Fate fare, but they don’t come off as anything too memorable. Of course, there is an exception to that, and a glorious one, that being the riff that kicks in at 00:03 and goes to 00:13. The transition between the intro of the song and the riff is about, ending just as suddenly as it begins, never popping up in the song again. I like how it starts off with only one guitar, growing in intensity once the second guitar comes in is and reaches the top once the drums start playing. This structure is what makes it work for me. The fact that it doesn’t fade away into another riff and is simply interrupted makes is somewhat unique. The riff sounds like something out of a Diamond Head or Angel Witch song, which makes it feel out of place on one hand, but on the other makes it stand out even more. It sounds “evil” enough to fit with the rest of the song, so it works on basically every level. I love it and you should love it too. –Eliza

The best Mercyful Fate/King Diamond riff? I’ll do you one better: simply the best riff—period. That riff is most certainly the one from the song “Into the Coven,” from Melissa, the most beloved Mercyful Fate album. Which riff? THEriff. Seriously, it’s pretty much the only one in the song, and it sounds great both alone, with a verse, and especially beneath a solo.

The track begins with a deceptively pretty and delicate guitar solo with bit of a neoclassical, you might even say “prim and proper” flair, which is especially surprising your first time hearing the track if already accustomed to the Metallica cover from ’98 as part of a medley.  But then, at precisely 0:51, the riff comes seemingly out of nowhere, then truly hits its stride as the rest of the instruments kick in at 1:04 with an irresistible groove, perfect for the lyrical content, which is that of a Satanic priest conducting an initiation ritual.

You, the listener, are a devout and genuinely upstanding, very conservative Christian who’s had a rough day and been let go from your job. In a move that’s decidedly out-of-character, you find your way into a dimly lit bar one afternoon and order a stiff drink.

Where the hell am I going with this? Just a sec—

You notice an attractive, yet very modestly dressed server wiping down a table near the bar. (INTRO SOLO) You quickly look away, but too late—she’s already noticed, and you’ve locked eyes. Over the next few minutes, you’ve managed to not only hold a decent conversation, but also find that she’s also a devout churchgoer herself, and as it turns out, there’s actually a mid-week service tonight!  This is just what you need to get yourself out of this funk and back into the Lord’s good graces. . .

A couple hours later, you arrive at the address you were given and see your new lady-friend waiting for you. As you get closer, up the steps and nearly to the door, something doesn’t feel right.  Her eyes narrow, and her kind, shy smile becomes a devilish grin. . . .(THE GODDAMN RIFF!).

Guess what? It was nearly a dozen years ago when that riff smile set you on the course you’ve taken ever since.  You’re a leather jacket-wearing, motorcycle-riding, fucking Satanic warrior-priest who looks like a cross between Clancy Brown in the Highlander and Kiefer Sutherland in the Lost Boys (in other words: outrageously cool), and you ride across the land doing whatever you damn well please, tempting those with whom you’ve come into contact to leave their old ways of life to join you in your triumphant blasphemies.

The sweet, seductive power of evil cannot be denied, and the deliciously groovy, loin-stirring riff from Into the Coven is the absolute quintessence of that seduction and temptation. By the time it comes around, you’ve been indoctrinated, and you can’t help singing along with the lyric “My soul belongs to Satan!” (4:28) –Dumpster Lung

Now you must choose:

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