When I first popped in this disc, my first thought was, “Holy crap! This is the new Nightwish!” One is apt to make that comparison. Punchy metal (at least at first), rolling power guitars, and female operatic vocals – very good ones, too. While the band’s style commands immediate attention, particularly from power/symphonic and operatic metal fans, unfortunately the promise does not linger long enough to make Where Angels Fear a truly remarkable listen. However, the band does have promise.
Mercury Rain is apparently a British band that has been coming together over the last few years, and Where Angels Fear was recorded over nearly a year. The production quality is excellent – a testament to either the resources or resourcefulness of this unsigned band. Unfortunately the music, while technically extremely solid, still has a ways to go in the way of overall effect. Most of the songs on this five-song demo sound very much the same. The first track, “Another Realm,” begins with a fairly meaty and fairly heavy guitar intro, promising good things. The vocals of the very talented Sonia Porzer have a mournful, sad quality that is well-suited to operatic-style metal. However, in short order “Another Realm” powers down into a slow-paced, fairly light and thin-sounding number which, despite the commendable dirgelike quality that Ms. Porzer brings to the music, is not as engaging as it probably should be. I’m sorry to say this is the pattern for all the songs: great openings, very competent guitar work, quite crunchy at times, but settling too quickly and easily into slower, less heavy stuff once intros are completed. There are exceptions, such as some very good things in the middle of “Incubus,” the third track, but it doesn’t sustain this album long enough. It seems to me Mercury Rain is perhaps relying a bit too much on the impressive vocals. The vocal lines carry most of the melody here. The result is that, while this band is very melodic, it loses sight of the word heavy in heavy metal. This is metal – but just barely.
Still, I have to give credit to Mercury Rain. Even attempting a Nightwish-style band is a commendable feat, and the greatest asset of a band like this – vocals – is boldly, and rightfully, placed front and center. The rest of the band needs to catch up. Punch up the volume several notches, increase the speed by a factor of four or so, make the guitars thick and bottom heavy, and Mercury Rain could be a serious contender in the melodic/operatic metal sweepstakes.
Contact: Mercury Rain, 82 Cave Grove, Emersons Green, Bristol, BC16 7BA, United Kingdom, or www.mercuryrain.com
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