Another evening spent at The Peel and once again it was worth the time and money. First thing I have to mention is ?5 to see five excellent bands is one hell of a bargain, secondly; each and every band made it even more value for money with some amazing performances from all of them, so well done to each and every one of the bands!
First to the start this fantastic night of female fronted metal was Kent based Crimson Tears and I think they delivered an excellent performance of raw talent. Crimson Tears are more of a symphonic operatic band featuring the elegant voice of Gina Oldham who delivers high pitch harmonic operatic style vocals on stage which cut through the air subtly giving a nice relaxed atmosphere to start off the night. What I really liked about Gina's voice is she has an excellent vocal range, combining her harmonic voice with lower tone vocals to build up to bursts of symphonic vocals blended with melodic guitar work giving them a real gothic feel. Crimson Tears set a good mellow atmosphere right from the start and were a great opening band but as Gina said on stage, they were by no means the heaviest band on the line up and everyone soon saw what she meant.
Liquid Sky were nothing short of amazing and a really underrated band. When they took to the stage they instantly made their presence heard and felt. Liquid Sky are a well polished band from Manchester who opened up with a barrage of dark heavy chugging rock style riffs from guitarists Jonathan Craven and Audie Lewis and took no time what so ever to get bodies moving in the audience.
Lead singer Hecate has a great presence on stage, her vocals have a great melodic rock sound which is faultless through and through, she moves with the music perfectly making her on stage performance and presence astounding, she's in the audiences faces all the time which shows she knows how to entertain and get everyone hungry for more.
I would really have hated to be Crimson Altar having to follow Liquid Sky's performance, but it certainly didn't seem to shake them and they came out full of charisma.
Crimson Altar have had a real Cinderella style story running up to this show, just over a month before the gig, the band said farewell to their lead singer and new bassist, stepping in at the last minute was former singer Judy and bassist Kat and I think they played outstandingly with a good solid display of ambient guitar barrages, slow doom style drumming and low tone Gothic style vocals which really created a more dark atmosphere in the venue. What I really like about Crimson Altar is they are raw talent on stage, its nice to hear polished bands, but some times you just can't beat a raw band who are still a little rough around the edges and thats how I see Crimson Altar on stage. Along with all of that, guitarist Chris Poore really leads the band well, he was always at the front of the stage and trying to fire the crowd up with his charisma. On that note though, I felt that the others should maybe follow his example and this is my only so to say dislike when it came to this live performance, one man cannot fire up a whole venue on his own, if the rest of the band backed Chris up just a little more, I think they would inspire more energy from the crowd during heavier songs.
So three bands down, just two remained and I don't think there was a shadow of a doubt that Mercury Rain would fail to deliver a mixture of dark ambient soundscapes blended with high octane power driven guitar onslaughts and of course the beautiful harmonics of lead singer Sonia Porzier.
Mercury Rain simply blew me off my feet, it was like combining all of the past three bands, they had a massive stage presence, they had energy and drive, they had image and most importantly, they had a flawless sound. Sonia sold the band to me instantly, her voice projected through the smoky atmosphere like a ray of light breaking through dark storm clouds and like all great vocalists, she interacted with the audience bringing the whole venue to life with great energy. Fabulous energetic performance from an outstanding band.
After all of that, the show was already amazing with great atmosphere and Season's End hadn't even taken to the stage yet.
Season's End were the icing on the cake, I remember back to when this band were hardly known and since then they have had a ton of experience with plenty of shows and a spot at Bloodstock 2005 and all of that experience showed as they delivered a solid set through and through.
Both vocalists; Becki Clark and David Stanton work so well together, dual vocals are always effective with gothic style music and these two use it with great effectiveness to create harmonic soundscapes.
Becki pours emotion into every lyric she sings, although her voice is so soft and soothing, it has great power behind it that can cut through stone, another year or so and I don't doubt she will be mentioned among female vocal legends of the gothic scene.
Season's End also have a great light and dark style sound, you have the soothing vocals of Becki Clarke but at the same time aggressive assaults of guitaring by David Stanton and Daryl Kellie, thunderous drumming from Paul White, sub-sonic bass attacks from Tom Nicholls and dark soundscapes created by synths man Dave Smith, combine all of that and you get a real sense of a light and dark struggle giving the music great emotion.