Mena Brinno - Wicked Polly
Dark Balance
Power/Folk Metal
9 songs (45:26)
Release year: 2009
Mena Brinno, Dark Balance
Reviewed by Goat

As piercing as the sound of the flute on this album is, it’s nothing compared to vocalist Katy Drecker’s ungodly wail. Normally I count myself a fan of both female vocals and Power Metal, but after the first listen to Wicked Polly, I had to go and sit in a dark room for a while to combat the nervous state that her squeals had put me into. Yet on the second listen, the songwriting began to shine through, and although I still find myself wincing at times, Wicked Polly has turned out to be a pretty good album from the Floridians, much better than my initial reaction suggested.

Based on American folklore, Wicked Polly is concentrated more around the power of the riff than that of the keyboard, and sounds not unlike old Nightwish from the first notes of opening track Banks Of The Ohio onwards. Lead singer Katy is a classically-trained Opera singer; if you can believe that such exists in the Power Metal realm, and has a warmer, more inviting voice than Tarja, although like all Opera singers in Metal the effect isn’t always perfect. Being fair, she’s a very talented vocalist (appearing also on Hate Eternal’s underrated 2008 opus Fury & Flames, providing the wails on Coronach) and it doesn’t take much for her voice to work its magic. Entrapment especially, after a rather neat Rhapsody-esque opening, shows her upper range off well, the song itself (like many others on the album) having an interesting mixture of Power and Folk Metal styles, as well as the expected catchy chorus and musicianship.

Surprisingly, the instrumentation is quite raw for Power Metal, the members’ various backgrounds in Death Metal clear, especially the drums, which often blast along merrily in the background. The aforementioned flute does make it fairly obvious in which category the music belongs, however, and is nothing but a highlight, the opening of the title track especially, which would be a great song for the kickass guitar solo alone. Throughout the album the songs are well-written and enjoyable, even five and six-minute monsters like Secrets Of War and finale Wildwood Flower, the latter’s Country influence a welcome bit of experimentation. Labyrinth kicks into speedy brutality at one point – well, compared to the rest of the album, anyways – and Katie Cruel alone has more jagged-edged riffing than most Power Metal crews manage in an entire album.

Wicked Polly isn’t a perfect album – it really cries out for a huge, epic song that would kick the band several miles up into the stratosphere, and the production, whilst adequate, could be much, much better – but for a second album from a project that most of you reading will never have heard of before, it’s a great listen. I don’t often get a chance to review Power Metal gems here at Metal Reviews, my colleagues stealing a lead on me most weeks with their superior knowledge; so it’s a pleasure to be able to recommend Mena Brinno to you.

Killing Songs :
Banks Of The Ohio, Entrapment, Wicked Polly, Secrets Of War, Katie Cruel, Wildwood Flower
Goat quoted 81 / 100
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There are 4 replies to this review. Last one on Fri Jan 23, 2009 2:43 am
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