I find it fitting that I write this the day before Mercy Isle‘s first full length album ‘Undying Fire’ is released. As well Metal Female Voices Festival kicking off in Belgium tomorrow where Mercy Isle will be opening the Sunday; this will also be the first performance with the new line-up.
I can say this is one of my favourite albums I’ve been lucky enough to review this year; a lot due to how versatile it is. Kicking off with ‘Wake Up’ which as incredible mix of the elements I love about Mercy Isle. Kassandra Novell demonstrates her incredible range from which I can say she executes just as beautifully live, ranging from the occasional growl to her powerful melodic range. Her performance on this album has very must cemented her place for me as one of my favourite Symphonic Metal vocalists out there. Following into ‘Storm’ which featured on and was the title track to their original EP. Having launched a successful Indiegogo campaign; and through a lot of hard work from the band, they got to re-record this track as well as ‘Uncaged’ and ‘No One Will Save You’. I will say that it was well worth doing, they still fit well with the theme of the album and the new mix is a treat, especially to fellow Bass connoisseurs!
Next up is one of my Favourites ‘Stop Kiss Me’ I just found out that they will be performing this one live on Sunday and I cannot wait! One of the elements that really give Mercy Isle something unique is how well Kassy and Chad Novell’s voices complement each other. I am glad there was even more of vocals on ‘Undying Fire’ I really think this guy needs recognition for being such a talented bassist and vocalist. Up next is the the first of 2 ballads on the album ‘If I Could’ another strong track and Joop de Rooij’s keyboard work really shines through and makes this something special. Leading into remastered favourites from ‘Storm’; ‘Uncaged’ and ‘No One Will Save You’,
Another change up in pace as we follow into ‘I am’ very different to anything so far and I really enjoy the production that allows the bass to really punch through on the mix, making this track incredibly atmospheric. ‘Saying Goodbye’ is the 2nd ballad on the album and has a much more stripped back feel to it, featuring guest vocals from Amanda Somerville (previously guested with Avantasia, Epica, Kamelot, After Forever). Friday at Metal Female Voices Festival “they’ll revive the 2015 fall tour version of Saying Goodbye with guest Aziza Poggi (Aria Flame) singing duet with Kassandra.’ There will also be a guest appearance from Lindsay Schoolcraft from ‘Cradle of Filth’ so the Friday acoustic performance is looking very exciting!
‘Come To Me’ is another favourite of mine, the intro choir part is incredibly powerful and emotive, which creates a fantastic hook that appears through-out the track. A truly beautiful track that I cannot wait to see in action on Sunday. Finishing off the album is ‘The Ghost’ I’m really taken with how well the keyboards and bass lines work together on this track, as well as the perfect pairing of Kassandra and Chad’s vocals, a beautiful end to an amazing album.
Overall I adore this album, I really applaud Mercy Isle as a band for their incredible growth since their debut EP ‘Storm’. I look forward to seeing them perform at MFVF this weekend, and I really hope it’s the first of many visits to Europe. It is really hard for me to pick a favourite track but after much deliberation it is ‘Stop Kiss Me’
Mercy Isle are –
Kassandra Novell – vocals
Freek Gielen – guitars
Eelco Slont – guitars
Joop de Rooij – keys
Chad Novell – bass/vocals
Ywe Van Der Pol- drums