Mourning Eve: Live At O’Malley’s Alley Review

“You only ever get to do your first show once.”
– an old saying that I just made up

When I retired from my desk job in 2019, I felt like God was giving me a dream life greater than any dream I could have come up with myself. My wife, Lisa, and I could hop in the RV, travel the county, and, in the process, I could photograph any show, anywhere in the country, anytime I wanted, given lead time to get there. I mean, if we are going to travel the country anyway, why not let shows and festivals dictate the route?

Of course, a worldwide pandemic and a set of health issues for both Lisa and me kind of put a small damper on that, but I’m here to say that the dream is alive and well.

So imagine being a fly on the wall in our house when I asked Lisa, “Wanna drive 1,000 miles to Florida to see a brand new band that no one has ever heard of?” And without flinching her response was something like, “Sure, can we visit St. Augustine while we are there?”

That’s kind of how it went after CJ English announced that her new band, Mourning Eve, was going to perform their first show ever at O’Malley’s Alley in Ocala, Florida, on March 22.

Like I said above, you only ever get to do your first show once. No one can tell ten years from now if Mourning Eve will be the biggest thing in the industry or just a fading memory, but I knew CJ and the rest of the band would want some pictorial keepsakes of the show. They’ll also need some pics now to promote their new band.

So off we went.

For those of you who might have missed it (and I really don’t see how that is even possible), CJ English is the former guitar player/vocalist with her teen sisters in a band called Gold Frankincense & Myrrh, or just GFM for short. GFM came out of nowhere in 2016, hit the road in 2017, and were an instant sensation, taking the world by storm with six releases through 2022.

Then in November 2022 came the announcement that the three sisters would no longer be performing together.

Middle sister Maggie went out on her own as Magdalene Rose, and little sister Lulu took to the Twitch world under the name Ludawissy.

But where did that leave older sister CJ?

No longer a teen, CJ began pursuing her own future in music. She took some time off to make sure that her future was deliberate. She did a few one-offs, performing some festival dates with the band Relent, never committing to, nor denying, a future there.

Then on January 1, 2024, she made the big announcement that she would be a part of a new band, Mourning Eve, self-described as “a metalcore band out of Nashville, TN”, a project that had been in the works for a year.

The band was to include Hudson Lake on bass, a former GFM guitar tech as well as a producer at Dark Horse Recording. On vocals was newcomer Sean Violet, and on lead guitar was the mysterious “Norad.” Also a part of the off-stage band team was Jared (with an “A”) Cunningham, known for his guitar work with Monarchs to Oblivion as well as a supporting band member of the sister duo Renee Music.

Mourning Eve’s first single, “The Noise,” hit the streaming services on March 1st. If you came to this song expecting a re-energized GFM sound, you’d walk away with some melted eardrums. This song is premium metalcore, with Sean and CJ sharing scream-work, along with some brilliant clean vocals surrounded by Norad’s pounding guitar work.

So what does a band with one single do for a show?

That was the question we all asked as we made our way to Ocala Florida.

The easy answer was to fill the rest of the set with material from CJ’s former band, but I think the phrase they used was “GFM with a twist.” A much crunchier and fuller sounding GFM.

O’Malley’s Alley was chosen because of the close relationship the venue had with GFM. GFM performed there numerous times, and the management was very accommodating toward Mourning Eve. Mourning Eve currently has a mainstage spot inked at the Kingdom Come Festival, and they really didn’t want that to be their first show ever. They felt like they needed to get the first-show jitters behind them before the fest.

As the week of the show approached, Mourning Eve found themselves short a drummer. Sean is an accomplished drummer himself, but it’s hard to scream and play drums at the same time, so on the Friday before the Friday show (8 days), they hit up a “Nameless” drummer from Lowville, New York, and asked him to help them out. So Nameless learned the songs, flew to Florida, and spent the better part of a day and a half practicing with the band. Nameless ended up sharing drum duties with Sean. I guess we’ll have to wait till KCF to see if Nameless takes over completely, or if a new, more permanent drum solution is found.

By the time that zero hour hit at O’Malley’s, the club was filled with family and friends anxious to see what this thing called Mourning Eve was really all about. There was plenty of GFM garb to be seen, as well as a War of Ages shirt. Some old geezer with a camera was even seen sporting an Altar Boys shirt, but we’ll ignore him. The crowd was very enthusiastic and very much into the show. When asked to spell out “S-M-I-L-E” the crowd obliged willingly, even though Sean’s take on the vocals was very different than the original GFM version – as was the case for every other GFM cover the band did, with the only original Mourning Eve song being “The Noise.”

Oh, and instead of cupcakes, Mourning Eve went with Capri-Suns. (GFM fans will understand that.)

If there were kinks to be worked out, no one in the crowd could tell. The show came off flawlessly, and no one walked away wishing they had not come. In fact, everyone LOVED it.

As for me, I’m scheduled to sho– photograph the Subculture stage at the Kingdom Come Fest while Mourning Eve plays over on the mainstage, but if you promise not to tell Jeanette, I might just sneak over and grab a few snaps of Mourning Eve between sets on my stage.

Because, while this might have been my first show with Mourning Eve, it will NOT be my last.

Authorized To Crank It UP!!

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