Mercury Rain - Dark Waters
Self Financed
Gothic Power Metal
7 songs (41:53)
Release year: 2003
Mercury Rain
Reviewed by Alex

The unsigned Mercury Rain from Bristol, UK are not afraid to take the path less traveled. Starting with the opener Broella the band mixes elements of gothic, power and classic heavy metal. The latter two are done often enough, but the band is adding the former because it is fronted by a female vocalist who could sing for a gothic metal band. In another words, Sonia Porzier almost dictates the direction Mercury Rain writes their music.

The marriage of power and gothic styles combined with Sonia’s vocals creates a conundrum for the band. Something that would be unwarranted, and quite unfair, is to compare Mercury Rain with Nightwish. Yes, Ms. Porzier is not operatic, and she is not going to kill you with her range. Instead, she is an above average gothic singer very much styled after Floor Jansen from After Forever and the singer of 3rd and the Mortal (whose name escapes me this minute). Thus, when the band plays to Sonia’s strengths the outcome is a heavy, but serene, gothic music with a tight rhythmic foundation. The best moments on the album come when Sonia’s voice is up front, supported by deliberate power chords and drumming not based on quick kicks. I was mesmerized when Sonia floats (sorry, I can’t call it soaring) over the open riffs like in the beginning of The Boat of the Dead, and most of the Bride of the Dark track.

The trouble (in my modest opinion, of course) comes when Sonia has to follow the faster double bass fueled attack as in The Chosen One. Her voice needs more room and she is constantly lagging behind. It would not be a big deal if the band wasn’t so determined to push this direction. As if knowing this, most of the pure power metal sections plus Iced Earth/old Metallica style chops by Dion Smith are almost entirely instrumental. Don’t get me wrong, some tribal drumming and folk melodies in The Chosen One and Rich Shillitoe’s solo in Bride of the Dark are outstanding. It is just the permeating feeling I had while listening to the album - this is a sum of two not entirely fitting pieces.

Some of the melodies being traded between guitars and symphonic organ created by the main songwriter Jon Hoare are quite dark and pensive, as the whole album is a concept about people/sailors lost at sea. To strengthen the point, some of the songs contain sound effects of ocean waves coming ashore. Very cool and it helps to set the atmosphere. Jon Hoare’s production is very voluminous, and at times symphonic, you can hear all instruments clearly, but the best moments again come in when he pushes Sonia up front.

The closer Le Paradise Du Couchant is a short acoustic lullaby sung entirely in French. Just as I didn’t care for Kamelot’s similar track on Karma I wasn’t entirely sold on Mercury Rain’s version. In my opinion going with full guitars and keyboards would be a better option, but the artists always know what suits them better.

The band would be an excellent fit on Transmission Records, and the fans of After Forever (me including) would be advised to check out Mercury Rain. In order to improve, Jon Hoare would have to either blend the two genres better, or shift more into the gothic direction to accommodate their singer. Also, maybe a backup female singer with a capability to take some higher notes would provide a decent contrast to Sonia’s more controlled reserved delivery.

Killing Songs :
The Boat of the Dead, Bride of the Dark
Alex quoted 67 / 100
Other albums by Mercury Rain that we have reviewed:
Mercury Rain - St. Matthieu reviewed by Alex and quoted 82 / 100
Mercury Rain - Where Angels Fear (Demo) reviewed by Chris and quoted 55 / 100
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