Mercy Isle were founded in 2014 by singer Kassandra Novell. The members of the band live in the US and the Netherlands. In March 2015, the single “I’m Gonna Make It” appeared. Shortly thereafter, the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign launched for the EP “Storm” with four songs that were released in the same year. The full-length album UNDYING FIRE should also be financed via crowdfunding, which unfortunately succeeded only partially. Nevertheless, the band unwaveringly produced the debut album, which will be released in October, in time for this year’s Metal Female Voices Fest in Belgium. Fans have the opportunity to convince themselves of the live qualities of the band at the festival.
“Wake Up” honours its name, first a digital wake-up call before the musicians get started. You immediately perk up. Pop meets classic rock. And singer Kassandra Novell can show what for a great singer she is. But she also add the growls. “Storm” could already be heard on the EP, banging guitars and a forward driving double bass ensure a proper heaviness. “Stop, Kiss Me” – who could say no. A radio-compatible rock song, Kassandra sings a duet with husband Chad. The two voices harmonize superbly with each other. Accompanied by quiet piano music, the singer shows her vocal qualities in “If I Could.” Especially the high notes sound clear and clean. Additional magnificent guitars and a flute interlude. A ballad to falling kneel to. Just close your eyes and dream.
In “Uncaged” it is then over with the contemplation. Powerful vocals are backed by hitting guitar riffs and forward driving drums. Also this song you could hear in advance already on “Storm,” as well as “No One Will Save You.” The piano melody splashes to itself and accompanies the quiet singing before heavy riffs come to this. Here again the excellent voice of Chad Novell is heard, and Kassandra growls to it. “I Am” starts with an electric-pop attitude, the singing is technically alienated, but not for long, and you can enjoy the right voice. Quiet Drumming is backed by clean guitars and keyboard parts. And the song ends like it began, with electronic pop citations.
In the piano ballad “Saying Goodbye” the singing partner is none other than Amanda Somerville (Avantasia). Loans from the Celtic music let arise memories of Enya, a touch of Middle-earth is in the air. Therefor it bangs in “Come to Me” again properly. Powerful drumming, fast guitars, a class-guitar solo. Impressive choral recordings that accompany the singing. With “The Ghost” the album then comes to the end. Keyboard and synth sounds give the final song a pop flip side, drums and guitars, however, provide for a rock sound. And it is to hear another great duet of the couple Novell.
With UNDYING FIRE Mercy Isle manages an impressive debut. The album is extremely varied with a mix of styles from Pop, American Hard Rock and European imprinted symphonic metal. Kassandra Novell delivers an outstanding vocal performance, husband Chad hardly is inferior to her. Whereas one wants more of the duets. And excellent musicians on the instruments put the album on the icing. I am already looking forward to experiencing Kassy and her boys at the Metal Female Voices Fest live.
Kassandra Novell – Vocals, Growls
Joop de Rooij – Keys
Chad Novell – Bass, Vocals
Ywe van der Pol – Drums
Amanda Somerville – guest singer on “Saying Goodbye”
Sebas Honing – all guitars on the album
Jeroen Goossens – Flute
Erik van Ittersum – Additional strings/synth on “If I Could”
Choir members on “Come To Me”: Kolin McCormick, Dave Boxhorn, Brett Kihlmire, Thomas James, Gerra McShan, David Zapp, Todd Herdt, Lisa “Ashton” Cochran, and Ami Bouterse.
Executive producer: Sander Gommans
Vocal coach/producer: Amanda Somerville
Album art: Jan “Örkki” Yrlund/Darkgrove
Recording engineers: Daan Janzing, Kyle White, Chris Kringel, and Sebas Honing.
Mixed by Sander Gommans and Daan Janzing
Mastered by Daan Janzing
Label: Self distribution
Out: October 21st 2016
Stop, Kiss Me
If I Could
No One Will Save You
Come to Me
Release date: 21-10-2016
Reviewer: Rainer Kerber