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Season's End - May 2006 Event

Season's End - May 2006 Event
Bristol Bierkeller 07.05.06

Season’s End, the bright young hopefuls from the UK’s Metal Female Voices scene, kicked off a twenty-four date tour at Camden Underworld in London on 29th March 2006 in support of their new live DVD, the final night bringing them to my home town of Bristol. The night’s bill also featured Karn8 and Neverwinter – both from the MFV scene although both very different in their approach – and while the latter were going through their paces I had the chance of a quick chat with Season’s End’s keyboard player Dave Smith. Understandably, he was a bit disappointed that the tour, like all good things, was coming to an end.

"The tour’s gone very well, and it’s unfortunate that it’s the last night tonight as it’s been 24 dates of fun in all. It’s been very successful overall; yeah, there were a few crap dates but you know, that’s always the way it goes."

Season’s End 2006 boast a couple of new faces, and Dave is quick to elaborate. "Yes, unfortunately Daryl Kellie and Tom Nicholls left in December. They’re both great guys and we still get on with them very well but it wasn’t really their thing and they had a lot of work commitments teaching-wise. They couldn’t get as much time off as we needed and they knew we were planning this big old tour so they bowed out in December – quite expected to be honest – but there’s no hard feelings there at all. We’ve got Jon Craven from Liquid Sky guesting on guitar and our old roadie Dave Lovell playing bass for us as a temporary thing at the moment but they fit in so well… I mean, as soon as we played our first gig with them back in January it clicked – it was obvious they’d be around for a while. But we’ll see how it goes as to what happens next."

The DVD ‘Ascension’ was primarily shot at last year’s Bloodstock festival, the event where they confirmed their status as the UK’s leading MFV band, and despite the fact their set was only forty minutes – five songs – they crammed one hell of a lot into that time and performed one of the most energetic sets ever seen on the Derby stage. It also features the band’s previous line-up, so is a valuable record of probably the most important gig of their career.

"Oh yes, the DVD!" laughs Dave. "We’ve sold out of the first run already along with the bonus acoustic EP; we’ve been selling plenty on tour and have had some good reactions from them so far. I am quite proud of it because I edited most of it myself aside from the actual show which was done professionally, but other than that it’s really a self-produced thing. It’s something for our fans because a lot of the people that have been following us for three or so years have only heard the one album which we originally released in 2003, so we needed to give them something new; this is a way of doing that without rushing into a second album before we’re ready."

A valid point: the band’s one album ‘The Failing Light’ is coming on for three years old now, and although the band’s original independent release was picked up by a record company and given a professional make-over before being re-issued in September 2005, some new material would be appreciated. Even non-album live favourites like ‘Forevermore’ and ‘Into The Flames’ are hardly new any more.

"I agree," nods Dave. "once the tour is over we’ve got some serious work to do. We’ve got ideas but we really need to work on the songs for ages and find a new record company and stuff. For the next six months we’ll be writing, demoing and searching for a new company. We’ve got a few interests at the moment but we’re almost going to hold off on them and wait until the proper demos are ready to see what the best deal we can get is. We’re quite confident; we’ve been playing the new material live, some of them for nearly two years now because the old material is so old, but we’ve been getting some good reactions particularly to the two newest songs – ‘Angel Garden’ is my personal favourite: a very pretty guitar tune – little David Stanton’s done well on that one. But yeah, album number two: I can’t put any dates on it yet, it really depends if we do get picked up, but we’re aiming for early next year I think. We’ll probably record most of it ourselves, mainly because we don’t want to be rushed through recording the guitars or the keyboards, we want to set up a little recording studio in my house somewhere, and that way we can keep more control over things ourselves. We’ll definitely take the drums to as studio because you need that highly engineered sound, but for the guitars and synths especially we can just work at our own pace and effectively we’ll still be working on the material as we’re recording. We’ll take a few months to do that as we did last time, because it worked very well for us. We are all still very proud of ‘The Failing Light’."

As with the Bloodstock 2005 show, Season’s End kicked things off with the Becki Clark/Dave Smith vocal/keyboards duet intro to ‘Nothing After All’ ("it was actually written, well, adapted first for Bloodstock, just to give us a bit of an extra attention-grabbing oomph for an intro" Smith pointed out after the gig) before the song proper kicked in. ‘Into The Flames’ followed, a leaner, trimmer beast than the song that closed the Bloodstock set last year. Like the penultimate number ‘Forevermore’ you can’t really call it a new song, as it’s been in and out of the set over the past couple of years, but it’s an old friend and besides, it gives guitarist David Stanton and his temporary companion-in-arms Jon Craven a good work-out.

‘Angel Garden’, the only truly new number aired, put in an appearance mid-set, and certainly has the potential to become another Season’s End show-stopper. Album closer ‘Celestia’ and the aforementioned ‘Forevermore’ are beautifully written and expertly played, but, saving the best till last, Season’s End inevitably wrapped things up with ‘Ghost In My Emotion’, the most famous and the best song from the UK Metal Female Voices scene. ‘Ghost In My Emotion’ has everything – light and dark, frailty and, power; it’s the song where everything the band stands for gels in six-and-a-half minutes of harmony. David Stanton’s opening vocals and guitar intro, subtly backed by bass and drums – Paul White must be one of the best drummers on the planet – Becki Clark’s lead vocals that float over the song like clouds, Dave Smith’s menacing keyboards… It doesn’t get much better than this. One day this song will be rightly acclaimed as a classic of the genre, believe me.

If you don’t know this song, and you don’t know this band, then check them out now at www.seasons-end.com.