Pertness - Seven times eternity 3.5/5
2. Seven times eternity
3. Religiuos liberty
4. Darkness and fire
6. Riders of heaven part 1
7. Riders of heaven part 2
8. Fairy of the dawn
9. The world is grey
10. Angel of the dark
Representing the heavy metal hinterland of Switzerland, Pertness are celebrating 15 years of existence this year. Amazingly, 'Seven times eternity' is the band's debut. Perhaps it was named after the length of time it took for them to procure a record deal? Be that as it may, Kathargo Records is a generally dependable label for fans of high-quality traditional European metal, so I quickly sought out this Pertness CD upon its release. Let's explore the perticular pertinent facts pertaining to this band. Oh, and in case you're wondering, yes, Pertness is in fact a word in the English language. It means the quality of being lively, sprightly, bold, or saucy, all great terms to describe a Swiss heavy metal band, right?
The limited press I've seen on this Swiss quartet describes them as heavily influenced by Running Wild. That may be true, but it would be incorrect to describe them as a clone of Rock'n'Rolf and his merry band of mercenary pirate conscripts. The celtic melody in the intro track, "Doomed", is highly reminiscent of Running Wild, and occasionally guitar themes emerge on other tracks ("Riders of heaven part 1" for instance) that sound like something Herr Kasparek might have penned, but let's not get carried away with that comparison. The single most accurate band comparison I can give you is vintage Crystal Eyes, especially with respect to the Swedes' outstanding 'World of black and silver' CD from 1999. I love that Crystal Eyes CD, so this comparison is high praise, indeed. Other decent measuring sticks might be Stormwarrior, early Steel Attack (when Steve Steel was singing for them), Paragon (circa Piet Sielck-produced efforts), Deja Vu, Wizard (again, the Sielck era) and Sabaton. Catchy, peppy, uptempo (dare I say sprightly?) songs abound, with anthemic, memorable sing-a-long choruses and those Crystal Eyes-type guitar lines cropping up all over the place. Keyboards are present in a limited capacity, vocals are gruff but clear, and the pace definitely tends toward the faster side of European power metal. These ingredients render this CD a highly entertaining listen from top to bottom.
The only real drawback to 'Seven times eternity' is the band's over-reliance on choir parts that frankly leave something to be desired. There's a real art to making choirs sound majestic and powerful (see Hammerfall, early to mid-period Blind Guardian, or those Sielck-produced Paragon CDs for examples of bands who excel in this department). Pertness have invited 4 dudes to share backing vocal duties with lead vocalist Tom Schluchter. The choir parts are okay, but the backing vocalists' voices don't mesh well with Schluchter's, leaving him too far out front. The result isn't awful, but it does became a bit grating. It appears that this CD is a self-produced affair, given the booklet's silence on the matter, so the imperfections in the choirs may simply be the result of a lack of an experienced knob-twiddler running the board during the recording sessions. This wouldn't be a glaring weakness if the choirs only appeared sporadically, but it seems like every single song features a big sing-a-long choir part repeated way too many times. The net result is that the subpar choirs bombard the listener's ears over and over again. Even if these choirs were brilliantly performed and produced, the sheer numerosity of them would produce choir fatigue. I like Schluchter's gruff, expressive voice (he's maybe a bit like Kensington from Sencirow crossed with Rolf Kasparek and Joakim Broden of Sabaton), so there's no reason to try to mask it with all these backing vocals when he's perfectly capable of carrying a chorus effectively himself.
It would be a pity to allow this minor gripe to obscure the big picture, which is that Pertness have released a fine debut CD that is sure to appeal to fans of speedy, melodic, anthemic traditional European power metal with "happy" elements. I enjoy 'Seven times eternity' a great deal, and will eagerly anticipate hearing Pertness's next output. Just as labelmates Deja Vu experienced a major creative breakthrough between their debut CD and their sophomore effort, I'm confident that Pertness are capable of pulling off a monster CD next time around. At the very least, it's guaranteed to be sprightly, bold and saucy, right?
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