Seven Kingdoms - s/t 4/5

Reviewed: 2-1-10





Tracklist:

1. Prelude
2. Somewhere far away
3. The ones who breathe the flame
4. Open the gates
5. Vengeance by the songs of a king
6. Wolf in sheeps clothes
7. A murder never dead
8. Into the darkness
9. Eyes to the north
10. Thunder of the hammer
11. Seven Kingdoms


Confusingly, given its title, this is the 2nd CD by Florida power metal band Seven Kingdoms. I enjoyed the first for its wacky brand of thrashy, yet melodic, power metal. The main drag on the CD for me was the merely average (at best) vocals of Bryan Edwards. For the 2nd CD the band have added new vocalist Sabrina Valentine who is a marked improvement. The music is a little less extreme and crazy, mostly settling into melodic power metal territory, with more cohesive songs. But, there are still some supporting growling vocals and the thrash influence rears its more aggressive head from time to time. Overall, the new line-up is an improvement. The production is also much improved, which isn't surprising given that it was all recorded and mixed at Morrisound Studios.

After a "Prelude" the CD starts strong with "Somewhere far away". Immediately Sabrina makes it obvious the vocals are going to be much better on this CD than their first. The comparison that comes immediately to my mind is that she sounds somewhat like Ana from Oratory. The song is a double-bass chugger with some nice vocal melodies. Much like on the first CD there is some very nice lead guitar work and harmonies, which were the main selling point for me on their debut. The chorus here is one of the catchier ones on the CD. "The ones who breathe the flame" follows up in similar fashion. Again we hear a lot of deathish growls handling some of the vocals, so growl haters be aware, you'll have to put up with them if you want to check out Seven Kingdoms. I've always enjoyed the "beauty and the beast" vocal contrast and find it works really well in this overtly power metal style. "Vengeance by the sons of a king" has killer guitar riffing in its opening. This song features some killer guitar harmonies. "A murder never dead" is a quiet piano ballad, which I am embarrassed at how much I enjoy - particularly the beginning which has some non verbal vocals backing up the piano. The CD's closing epic "Seven Kingdoms" is loaded with the Iced Earth style galloping that was present on the first CD too. There are also some guest vocals from Wade Black of Crimson Glory. Seven Kingdoms does a good job of mixing in much more aggressive speeds and riffs while always maintaining strong melodies.

Needless to say, I really enjoy the new Seven Kingdoms CD. It basically corrects all of the flaws from their debut, and new vocalist Sabrina is just a huge improvement. Some of the Into Eternity-ish craziness has been toned down a bit, but you'll still find plenty of more aggressive parts mixed in with the framework of melodic power metal. Much like the first CD, I really enjoy the guitar work of Camden Cruz and Kevin Byrd. There are tons of melodic guitar leads which really enhance each song. The soloing is memorable and doesn't just sound like mindless shredding. Having purchased this CD through iTunes, I don't have lyrics but they seem to follow the fantasy influenced themes of the first CD. This CD is definitely easy to recommend and 2010 could be a big year for Seven Kingdoms.



JOHN




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