Fate band photo

FATE – If Not For The Devil

Fate - If not For The DevilOnce upon a time there was a little satanic heavy metal band called Mercyful Fate which were led by the notorious falsetto high screamer King Diamond. Mercyful Fate released two fantastic albums, Melissa (1983) and Don’t Break The Oath (1984) before they disbanded in 1985. Back then, the band said they played black metal and were, together with the British band Venom, the only band that played that kind of music, but in reality, their music was nothing more than heavy metal and neither them nor Venom can be associated with what they called black metal today. Except maybe their image. However, when King Diamond kept to the heavy route that Mercyful Fate were on, guitarist Hank Sherman had had enough and wanted to play pop metal, heavily influenced by Europe, Bon Jovi and Def Leppard instead and formed his own band, using half the name of his former band – Fate. He brought in vocalist Jeff Limbo, bassist Pete Steiner (Peter Steincke) and drummer Bob Lance (Bjarne Holm) and in 1985 they released their debut, self titled album, an album that was very uneven, but still had some good songs on it. The band’s biggest album was A Matter Of Attitude from 1986 and by then keyboards had taken over even more. Today that album sounds terribly dated but back in 1986, I remember loving it hard. In the end, though, Sherman had enough of AOR and left his own band to be replaced by the Mysterious Mr Moth (Jacob Moth) for 1988’s Cruisin’ For A Bruisin’ and after that, the band dissolved. In 1990, Steiner and Lance decided to give the band another go and recruited hot-shot guitar player Matthias “IA” Eklundh, who today has his own successful power trio Freak Kitchen, and singer Per Johanson, both Swedish and released the so underrated album Scratch N’ Sniff, who took them in a still melodic, but much heavier direction. But it didn’t work out this time either and the band broke up.

But shame on those who give up easily. At least that must have been Steiner’s thought (who now had started to play under his real name) and resurrected the band once more in 2006 with new guitar player Sören Hoff and drummer Mikael Kvist and released V, a decent album that could and should have been lots better. There was a five-year gap to their next album, Ghosts From The Past (2011) (reviewed here) where new vocalist Dagfinn Joensen and keyboard player Mikael Henderson had been added to the line-up and with the release of this new album it seems like Fate finally are a functioning band for the first time since their start. Well, sure, a new guitar player has come into the band, Torben Enevoldsen, but it sure looks like Fate has found some stability. The music is in the same style that they started on Scratch N’ Sniff and has held on to to this day – melodic hard rock with small metal influences here and there. Those shows in the opener “Reaping”, a hard and fast opener. The title track is very catchy with a tasty groove, “Feel Like Making Love” is brilliant and sounds like the Fate of the 80’s when Sherman still was in the band, but a bit updated – a hit to be and the same can be said of “Gambler”, very good AORish hard rock. “Man Against The Wall” changes things around a bit, here they bring in influences from pomp and early 80’s AOR, I hear both Yes and early Asia in here. It might sound like it doesn’t really fit in here, but it works just fine and the song is a killer.

So far, so good. Judging only by the mentioned songs, Fate could have their big breakthrough on their hands. However, the problem here is that the album starts out really well but slips the further the album goes. Songs like “Hard To Say Goodbye” – a decent ballad and “Made Of Stone” – an OK hard rock tune, are good, but really nothing special and there are few too many of those here. That said, this might be the best Fate album released to date. Great sound, great musicians and a great mix of melody, catchiness and heaviness. Still, a few fillers too many for a really high rating.

Jon Wilmenius (7/10)

Tracklist:

1. Reaping
2. If Not for the Devil
3. Bridges Are Burning
4. Feel Like Making Love
5. Gambler
6. Hard to Say Goodbye
7. Made of Stone
8. Man Against the Wall
9. My World
10. Turn Back Time
11. Taught to Kill
12. Gimme All Your Love

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