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Mercy Isle at the Madtown Underground Throwdown
Written by Doctor T.   
Friday, 17 July 2015

A Femme Metal Band is Born
Mercy Isle, Madtown Underground Throwdown
VFW, Madison, Wisconsin - 5/27/2015


Mercy Isle

 

Well, to be sure, there were more bands than just Mercy Isle at the Madtown Underground Throwdown, but I was there primarily to see Kassandra and the boys for their first ever live performance. Fortunately, it was a beautiful day in southern Wisconsin for the event. That and the fact that they had cheap beer and brats at the VFW meant you couldn’t ask for a better backdrop. My companion, Linda and I got there early, got to look at the fighter planes and troop transports before coming in to focus on the music.


There were a variety of metal acts for the first few hours but we didn’t really begin to focus on anything until Megan Orvold and the boys from Disappearance took the stage. As with any geographic area, bands from the same genre tend to know each other and Disappearance and Mercy Isle personnel have been friends for a long time. In fact, Megan, the lead singer for Disappearance and Cory Scheider, the guitar player for Mercy Isle have been an item in the Madison area for some time. So there’s clearly a level of incestuous relationship here. But, the music is a little different. Disappearance plays a more American sounding brand of metal, largely guitar based. And, they’re more than a little entertaining with Megan bouncing around on stage and the guitar players making sure she isn’t the only visual of interest. They’re a high energy sound. The band is preparing some material for release, should be worth listening to. I’ve seen this act a number of times, always enjoy them both for the music and the energy they present on stage. They put on a good show. We spent some time talking after the set, getting ready for Kassandra, Chad and the Mercy Isle crew to take the stage. Megan talked about her excitement being at the initial performance, “Its definitely amazing and inspiring to see how far they've come (since I was there in the beginning.) I feel extremely lucky to have played with them at their first performance and I think that big things are coming for them. I am extremely proud of all of them.”

 

MercyIsle

 

One act later Mercy Isle took the stage for the first time. Of course, none of these folks is exactly an amateur. They’ve been in the metal scene for a number of years performing with a variety of bands, sometimes together, more often with other musicians. I met Kassy when she was with a guitar based metal band called Enemy Star out of Milwaukee. Her husband, Chad, who is the bass player with MI has worked an even broader range of musical styles and is one of the best I’ve ever heard with the bass. I’ve heard him with several bands and respect his ability to do a lot of things. Guitar player Cory Scheider is not someone I’ve heard before but his reputation precedes him, as is the case with drummer Adam Maltby who I met for the first time at this performance. And, of course, the fifth member of the band needs no introduction to anyone. Joop de Rooij has been pounding keys for a number of European bands now since before Custer visited the Little Bighorn. These days he seems to favor American metal and works with both MI and Aria Flame from Michigan. Which means he’s been associated with two bands who won my “Release of the Year” award, the other being Dutch band Magion. Yea, he’s pretty good. Of course, on this day, Joop was only here in spirit and musically, he got sampled in. Maybe the beer was better in Amsterdam.

 

Mercy Isle

 

The band’s first song was Storm, a new one for me. But, you immediately got associated with the sound MI intends to present. For the most part, it’s far more European in flavor. Not just the Joop keys which present a fine symphonic, but the rest of the material as well. Kassandra has as fine a voice as you’re going to hear, and a lot of people outside Wisconsin have heard it. She’s performed at a number of MFVF shows and has a lot of friends in the Femme metal community all over the globe. In fact, it was at last year’s Oktoberhallen event that the idea for the band was born as numerous participants at that show finally convinced Kassy to put together a band.

 

Mercy Isle

 

But, there were a number of surprises that took place during the band’s 6 song set. For one thing, Kassandra wasn’t the only vocalist, Chad was singing on several songs, and he’s pretty good. But the major surprise took place when the band went into another new one, No One Will Save You. Again, both vocalists were singing, but things took a turn for the surreal when Kassandra began growling. Now, it turns out I had been warned a little ahead of time about this, but I don’t think I believed it. And damn, she was REALLY good. Who knew. . .I mean other than Chad.

 

Mercy Isle

 

The 6 song set featured 4 songs that will appear in MI’s upcoming EP. According to Kassandra, the EP will be mixed by Melissa Ferlaak’s husband who goes by the nom de guerre Voa VoXyD previously associated with the band Ad Inferna. The couple resides in Minneapolis so they’re another in the Midwest Femme Metal orbit. Our friend Voa VoXyD is also involved with MI as the web site developer (www.mercyisle.com) so there’s a heavy Minnesota connection.

 

Mercy Isle

 

Well, the set concluded with the the band’s first single release, I’m Gonna Make It which was the only one I’d been able to hear previously and it’s a good one. And the band did it justice, especially when Kassandra hit the high notes with little effort. And that, as they say, is a wrap (not a rap).

 

Mercy Isle

 

Clearly, there was much to talk about as the band cleared the stage for the next act. Anyone who’s been in the performing arts knows what that first performance is like so it certainly took a while to wear off the adrenalin. Personally, I bought another brat and a beer. But, we did stick around for at least one more Femme Metal Act, a band from that town that features a football team you may have heard of, Green Bay. The band was called Daphni and darned if that wasn’t the name of the lead singer / keyboardist. Probably just a coincidence but the music sure worked well with that brat and beer I had just purchased. Always great to hear a lovely Packerette doing Femme Metal.

 

Mercy Isle

 

At that point Linda and I called it a day at the VFW and headed for Lake Mendota where some 20,000 or so were waiting for us to begin the fireworks. It had been a lovely afternoon and it’s not often you get to hear a solid Femme Metal sound on their first day of work, paid work, that is. MI’s formal EP release party will be held at the Metal Grill in Cudahy, Wisconsin on October 30 and I plan to be there. This is very likely a sound you can expect to hear a lot more of. And next time, I expect Joop to buy the beer.

 

Mercy Isle 

 

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