Metal Monk album review of ‘The Failing Light', September 2005
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Finally getting the proper mainstream release it deserves, up and coming UK gothic metal act SEASON'S END unleash an altogether spanglier, more polished version of their popular demo "The Failing Light" on the 19th September. The original 6-track demo has been doing the rounds for almost 2 years, and gained enough popularity amongst the underground scene and metal music press to warrant the attention of a record label, as well as successful slots at the Bloodstock Festival and Thirteenth Day.

Sadly, the album itself has not been re-recorded (which would have been nice) but re-mastered and tweaked to sort out some original sound issues - and to bring it up to the standard to be expected of a debut release. For those familiar with the demo, richer keyboards and background effects have been added to tracks such as "Touch" and "Nothing After All", guitars seem beefier in the popular "Ghost in my Emotion" and parts of the demo that suffered distortion have now been cleaned up.

For the un-initiated, SEASON'S END create a heady blend of doom-tinged gothic metal, which is often as bombastic as it is sorrowful. The band often get touted as Britain's answer to Nightwish - while this is obviously quite a compliment, it is also quite inaccurate. While the band may be female fronted, their musical style has little in common with the aforementioned Finnish act other than a few of the more bombastic sections of tracks such as "Celestia" and "Ghost in my Emotion". Indeed, the band cites influences as far reaching as ANATHEMA, PINK FLOYD and DREAM THEATER.

So what about the music? Becki Clark's vocals are subtle and beautiful, rather than being overly powerful or typically "operatic" in style. Accompanying vocals are supplied by lead guitarist David Stanton and also take a more subtle, clean approach as apposed to the usual "growling" B+B formula of past gothic metal acts. This all makes for a nice change - especially with the current flock of femme-metal being saturated with these sorts of trademarks. Vocally Becki shines the most on the new version of "Touch" - seemingly featuring new harmonies that add that extra dimension.

Songs such as "Touch" and "Celestia" start off with slow and brooding harmonies and build up to excellent, bombastic climaxes - the emphasis swapping from atmospheric keyboards (supplied by Dave Smith) and slow solo lines to full on, catchy riff work. "Ghost in my Emotion" - the current live favourite amongst most fans - is definitely the album highlight, featuring a guitar riff to die for - that surely even the most cynical towards gothic metal couldn't resist head-banging to.

There are slower, more lamenting moments of course. The haunting "Innocence", and 10 minute long "One Sadness" both edge away from the bombastic side of things and go for the full-on sorrow angle. The end section of "One Sadness" reminds me of "For My Fallen Angel" by MY DYING BRIDE if I'm totally honest, and that's no bad thing at all.

While you only get 6 tracks, there is still almost an hour of music here, and thankfully, none of it is filler. My only minor gripe would be that - since the demo - something seems to have happened with "Celestia" that means the guitars have lost quite a bit of volume in this final version. Obviously this isn't going to make any difference to anyone who is new to this record, it's probably just me being picky. That aside, all the material is of excellent quality and shows great promise for the future. If you are a fan of gothic metal you could do a lot worse than picking up a copy of "The Failing Light".

Hopefully we shall be hearing a lot more from SEASON'S END, and for those of us who have been listening to these tracks for a while now, hopefully it won't be too long. The way some of the new material is shaping up in their live show - I for one can't wait.

Standout Tracks: Ghost in My Emotion, Celestia, Touch.

8 out of 10

Richard Kleiser of Metal Monk

Debut Album
The Failing Light

The Failing Light

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