Missa Mercuria CD's


Missa Mercuria(CD)


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Andreas Lill, Stephan Lill, Günter Werno, Andy Kuntz (VANDEN PLAS), Dennis Ward, Alfred Koffler(PINK CREAM 69), Alex Beyrodt (SILENT FORCE) DC. Cooper: Firegod (SILENT FORCE) Sabine Edelsbacher: Watergoddess (EDENBRIDGE) David Readman: Narrator (PINK CREAM 69)

REVIEWS:

MISSA MERCURIA (B+) Lion Music, 2004
16 tracks, RT: 60:00
[ http://www.missamercuria.com/ ]
[ mercuria@missamercuria.com ]
[ http://www.lionmusic.com/ ]
The Earth is destroyed. Are the four elementals to blame? And if not,
who is? What now is to become of the human race? And more importantly,
what of our protector Mercuria? This is the story of this "Killer
all-star progressive metal concept album." Killer and all-star,
indeed. The songs are written by D.C. Cooper (Silent Force), Günter
Werno and Stephan Lill (Vanden Plas), Alex Beyrodt (Silent Force) and
Alfred Koffler (Pink Cream 69). The music is performed by Vanden Plas
drummer Andreas Lill, Pink Cream 69 bassist Dennis Ward (who also
produced and engineered the album), guitarists Stephan Lill, Koffler,
and Beyrodt, Vanden Plas keyboardist Günter Werno, and session
percussionist Pedro Weiss. And if that wasn't enough big names for
you, here are the vocalists and the characters they play: Cooper:
Firegod, Sabine Edelsbacher (Edenbridge): Watergoddess, Lori Williams
(session soul singer): Earthgoddess, Andy Kuntz (Vanden Plas): Airgod,
Isolde Groß (classical opera singer): Mercuria, and David Readman
(Pink Cream 69): Narrator. Whew. Originally released on Generation
Records in September 2002, this review covers the 2004 Lion Music
version. The differences, as far as I can tell, are none. Nothing
added; nothing subtracted. The CD booklet tells us the story of the
album, written by Karin Forstner. And I'll be honest here; I couldn't
get through the whole story. It's long; it's really long, and it's
printed in this annoying font that makes reading it a chore. Suffice
to say the Gods must solve the mystery of the Earth's destruction and
find where to continue the human race. Thankfully, the story is
secondary to the music. I know, if not for the story there would be no
CD but my enjoyment of the music does not hinge on the reading of the
story. If anything I wanted to grade down because of it, but I didn't.
It's about the music, not necessarily the packaging. And the music is
good. The Earth is quickly dispatched in the appropriately named
"Earth's Destruction" and the consequences of that action begin to be
explored in "Requiem Mortale." These two instrumentals open the CD and
set the musical tone of what to expect throughout: searing guitars,
explosive drumming, fanciful keys and catchy, catchy hooks. For two of
the briefer pieces on the disc, there is a lot of energy and emotion
packed into the beginning of this album. The questioning of the
elemental suspects begins, as do our vocalists with "Divine Spark."
Fitting that D.C. Cooper play the Firegod as it's he who wrote all the
lyrics of this opus. This is the song that told me I was in for a
treat with this whole CD. It's straightforward, heavy and
groove-laden. And just as the temperature of fire raises, so does
Cooper's voice as the song continues. The subtle grace of Sabine
Edelsbacher brings us to "Whisper Of The Soul," where the Watergoddes
professes her innocence. It's a very elegant song and it flows as
easily as the water it represents. Next up is "Mother Earth." Soul
singer Lori Williams is probably the least-know of all the players
involved with MISSA MERCURIA but she handles her song very well. As
the Earth Elemental (hey, I thought that was Swamp Thing? Uh, I
digress...) her voice is full and resonant and the music is very solid
and almost tribal. A simple piano chord brings the beginning of
"Spirit Of Wisdom." As a huge Vanden Plas fan, the fact that Andy
Kuntz sings this song as the Airgod made it the one I most looked
forward to. And in the early listening of this CD, it's the song I
played the most. At the third line of the song the rhythm kicks in and
at the beginning of the second bar the whole band is in full sound.
And then the vocals start. Such a great song. Now we take a 2:59
instrumental break with "Illusion Of Time," setting the stage for the
middle act of the disc. "Illusion" slows the pace down and lets us
catch our collective breath with an airy piano piece and string
accompaniment. And now that we've recovered, it's time to meet our
main character, Mercuria herself in the eponymous "Missa Mercuria."
Opera soprano Isolde Groß lends her graceful voice to the story's
heroine. A tad overproduced, this track is almost out of place. It's
as if the music is toned down to not take away from Isolde's voice,
yet to compensate her voice seems to be recorded on several separate
tracks. Cool guitar solo, though. Halfway through the story we finally
meet our Narrator, in the form of David Readman. Readman has the
distinction of the most vocal tracks of any one given performer on
this disc. "Fairytale Of Truth" starts out with a simple piano
arrangement and quickly brings the rest of the band in. For this track
Readman's voice also seems multi-tracked but it adds to the story
content of the lyrics. And it's fairly far removed from what I'm used
to with Pink Cream 69 but I have yet to hear any Adagio. A simple,
catchy song. "Farewell For Love's Sake" is the ballad of the album and
the only duet. Here the Firegod teams up with Mercuria as they must
part in order for her to fulfill her mission. It's quite the tender
love song and Isolde's voice is far better suited for this type of
material. The next five tracks are all parts of "Journey To Hades."
And for some reason when David Readman sings it, it's pronounced
"hah-daze." Quick, someone tell Dan Lorenzo! "Departure To Fear's"
soft acoustic guitar and marching snare quickly segues into "Strange
Desert Walk." Both are instrumentals and both slow the pace down.
"Walk" has a very Eastern feel to it with chimes and a sitar-esque
sound. Readman returns with "Bursting Ego," a song that's almost eerie
in its subtle darkness. This is not a demon-infested, fire and
brimstone Hell, this is the Hell of your mind, subtle, almost hopeful,
but ultimately a worse prison. And it's a great showcase for his vocal
range. Quickly now we travel "Down To Hell" with a 32-second
conveyance of pounding despair. And finally Readman rounds out the
vocal portion of the CD with "Rectificando," a deliberately paced song
with very orchestral guitar and keyboards and deep, full vocals. Was
Mercuria successful? Will the human race survive, and if so, where?
Listen to "New Eon Arises" and decide for yourself. In all, the
diversity of the song writing is marvelous. To be able to convey each
God/Goddess/Elemental and every theme in this all-encompassing story
is nothing short of remarkable. In a time where half of the
progressive metal albums that come out are mega rock opera
collaborations, MISSA MERCURIA stands at the top of the pack. Or at
the forefront of a new plane of existence for the human race. I
haven't decided which yet... - Patrick Brower
(patrickbrower@comcast.net)

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