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Mercy Isle - Undying Fire

Mercy Isle - Undying Fire

CD Info
Label: Independent
Genre: Symphonic rock/metal
Language: English
Tracks: 10 Total time: 44:09
Rating: 10 of 10

Further proof that the symphonic metal scene is gaining traction in the U.S., Wisconsin’s Mercy Isle is an international project that incorporates the straightforward musical economy of the U.S., coupled with the artistic exploration and creativity of their European counterparts. Bringing in Dutch keyboardist Joop de Rooij, the husband-and-wife team of bassist Chad and vocalist Kassandra Novell were ready to realize a dream that began a few years earlier at Belgium’s Metal Female Voices Fest, where Kassy had taken part in the Eve’s Apple singing lineup. In late 2015, the band released an EP, Storm, to rave reviews. A year later, Mercy Isle was ready to give the world their debut full-length album, and light the spark of their Undying Fire.

From the moment the keyboard intro reminiscent of a beeping alarm clock starts off the opening track, “Wake Up”, it’s apparent that Mercy Isle has more to offer than your typical symphonic metal band. Kassy’s voice is so diverse, very much like Floor Jansen; that same huge, vibrant tone that can take on anything it is required to do vocally. Kassy can deliver soaring operatic vocals (like on the song “If I Could”), bring down the house with her sizzling rock voice (such as on the track “Storm”, where we also hear a bit of prog-influenced keyboard work), send chills with her haunting lower tones (like on “I Am”, my favorite track on the album; which has some gothic elements and where Kassy almost sounds like “Live to Tell”-era Madonna!), or give you a kick in the pants with her low, roaring growls (as is apparent on “No One Will Save You”, where she shares vocal duties with husband Chad). Speaking of which, Chad is a good vocalist as well as a bass player; you can hear the couple’s chemistry on the third track, “Stop, Kiss Me”, and the album’s closer, “The Ghost”. There is another vocalist: the eighth track, “Saying Goodbye”, a stirring ballad featuring guest vocalist Amanda Somerville, where the two voices complement each other beautifully.

Musically, the band’s symphonic metal influences can best be heard on the penultimate track, “Come to Me”, which features a choir and some of Kassy’s operatic voice, but throughout the album there are flutes, strings…everything that would brand this as “symphonic metal”; but there are also heavy guitar solos, and keyboard parts that hearken to classic progressive rock (which is especially apparent on “The Ghost”, making it a perfect final track, where everything comes together brilliantly).

Overall opinion: Take the catchy pop-rock melodies and symphonic sensibility of Delain, marry it with the bombastic heaviness and vocal power of ReVamp, and this gives you an idea of what Mercy Isle is like. However, Mercy Isle doesn’t sound like anyone else out there on the scene. They have cleverly paid tribute to their influences while still creating something new and exciting. The European artistry and American concision make for a perfect blend of songs that are majestic, yet do not take 7-10 minutes to get the point across. The songs are heavy-hitting and hard-rockin’, but still maintain their lush harmonies and elaborate beauty. It goes without saying that Mercy Isle is a band to look out for on both sides of the Atlantic, and before long, their transcontinental connection will reach audiences from beyond all borders.

For more information on Mercy Isle, visit their website: MERCY ISLE  Special thanks to Chad & Kassy Novell, and Joop de Rooij.