Image © Season's End 2003
Image © Season's End 2003
(06 June 2004) Season's End are a Gothic Metal band from the Hampshire area of southeast England. Fronted primarily by Becki Clark's vocals, the lineup is completed by David Stanton (guitar, bass, voice), Dave Smith (keyboards) and Paul White (drums). Tom Nicholls provides live bass, and Daryl Kellie provides a second live guitar. The band's sound is similar to Edenbridge (reviews) although Becki's vocal work is less theatrical than Sabine's.
Though entirely self-financed, their debut CD The Failing Light (2003) is an excellent package, produced to amazingly high standards, especially in terms of artwork, and the contents are no less impressive. Though clearly produced with a goth / metal audience in mind, there is enough here to interest progressive metal fans, with each of the six tracks on the album well over five minutes long. Lyrically, the band are impressive, weaving dark tales of lost and obsessive love.
It is also gratifying to hear such natural vocals on a metal album. Becki sings in a warm, almost classical soprano, while David, who shares lead vocal duties, has an unforced, natural sounding voice. Their voices combine beautifully throughout the album, often to spine-tingling effect. We were also intrigued by the use of instrumentation. Keyboards are very prominent throughout, and the guitars are never overdone; the metallic, machine-gun moments are used sparingly and thus provide genuine drama. Significantly, though there is plenty of melodic lead guitar throughout the album, there are few traditional "solos."
"Touch" opens with haunting strings, before launching into its metallic verse, with Becki accompanying her lead vocal with some soaring backing work. The mid section of the song is delightfully subtle, with some Steve Hackett style guitar, and whispered vocal, before a hugely dramatic ending. "Ghost in Your Emotion" is a standout track, an intense lead vocal from David giving way to Becki's second vocal, and a crunching guitar riff, before the voices combine superbly on the second verse, and again on the wonderful chorus. The song finishes on a slow, sinister note. "One Sadness" begins with a terrific cascading piano riff, which gives way to guitar, before launching into something of a progressive metal tour de force, with both voices again combining superbly.
An orchestral keyboard interlude introduces the wonderful ballad "Innocence," with its lovely piano riff, and angelic, multi-tracked female voices. "Nothing After All" moves things up tempo again, Becki's brooding lead vocal on the verse against some throbbing bass combining with some aggressive singing from David on the chorus, followed by a vicious twin guitar and twin bass drum section. Album closer "Celestia" starts with a brooding, almost medieval sounding section, before opening out into another progressive metal workout, with David almost grunting at one point.
Though there are a few sonic imperfections--the drums could sound a little better, and the vocals are mixed a little low--this is a fine debut by a band of some ability, who have produced an album of intensity and beauty with strong melodies and plenty of instrumental skill. We are looking forward to seeing them perform live, and the album is certainly worth a great deal more than modest funds required to buy it.--Stephen Lambe in Cheltenham, England and Russ Elliot in New York