Reviewed: April 2003
Released: 2003, Independent
Hailing from the UK (Bristol to be exact), DARK WATERS is Mercury Rain’s second offering following the EP WHERE ANGELS FEAR from 2000. DARK WATERS is an album whose topics tie together. From the band’s bio “The concept of this album is based on the sea and its legends. Breton tales, which still retain their meaning and their truth, even now. Emotional songs, charged with atmosphere, combined with stories at the heart of Brittany’s heritage. Tales from deep within a country steeped in tradition.”
Although the band is calling the material on DARK WATERS “Epic Power Metal”, they encompass more than other bands who better fit that that tag like Kamelot for example. Mercury Rain have power metal elements and more melodic metal moments like that found in Nightwish but they also have a gothic feel to them in their darker and more melodic moments. Even some hints of progressive metal can be heard at times adding to the mixture. When playing this album it creates an atmosphere due to the combination of the music and especially the vocals of Sonia Porzier. Comparisons to another female melodic metal great are perhaps unavoidable. That would be Tarja from Nightwish. Sonia does not sing with an opera influence but in places I was reminded of her. In any case, I’m sure many Nightwish fans would like Mercury Rain. So would many Kamelot fans or fans of melodic power metal with more of a focus on melody and atmosphere as opposed to driving riffs, screaming vocals and thundering double kick drums.
The journey begins with “Broella” which switches between mellow haunting sections to pummeling power metal. The production is crisp (although a little boomy in places), and well done by the band’s own guitarist, Jon Hoare. “Broella” is my current favorite track on the album. In terms of what I liked the most on the album, “The Chosen One” is my second choice. This one has some great drumming. We can’t leave out the guitars of course, so there is some killer soloing in “Bride of the Dark”. One track on DARK WATERS is sung entirely in French and that is “Le Paradis Du Couchant”. No doubt the reason for this is that vocalist Sonia Porzier came to Mercury Rain from the French band \’Tears of Ea\’. One of the albums more epic tracks is “The City of Ys” in which the keyboards noticeably helped in creating that feel. If I had to make a criticism of Mercury Rain I would say that the vocals, although a strongpoint of the band, could be worked on to add more diversity. I think more ballsy vocals and more aggression could be thrown into the vocal mix. Things do drag a bit in “Marie Morgane”. The closing track “Le Paradis Du Couchant” has some very nice clean guitar, but is too much of a lullaby styled ballad for my tastes. It’s well done and beautiful, but it’s a little over the top in that department for me.
For classy melodic power metal, Mercury Rain is definitely a band to watch. They have some important gigs coming up with another UK band, Dragonforce and an appearance at Bloodstock in August. If you happen to be there, don’t miss Mercury Rain’s set!
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