Seven Kingdoms - Brothers of the night 3.5/5

Reviewed: 2-8-08





Tracklist:

1. Eyes of summer
2. Stormborn
3. We do not sow (The legacy of black harren, part I)
4. Blackwater rush
5. The bloody meadow
6. Dragonflight
7. The long night
8. Watchers on the wall
9. Towers of hubris (The legacy of black harren, part II)
10. Winter comes


For those looking for something a bit different, Seven Kingdoms should fit the bill. This band from Florida has a long list of influences, and their style is generally reflective of those wide influences. For me, this sounds like melodic power metal meets thrash with a dash of death metal thrown in. It comes off as a slightly less zany, less technical, more power metal, Into Eternity. I also hear a bit of an Iced Earth influence at times too. There's a bit more European flavor to their melodies than either of the aforementioned bands though. My only real gripe with the band is that vocalist Bryan Edwards is pretty unremarkable. That's not to say he's bad, in fact I appreciate the fact that (other than a couple of ill-advised forays into falsetto territory) he always stays within his range and hits all the notes. In fact, his voice is generally pleasant, but he is merely good, and not any better than that. The fact that a lot of the vocal melodies are simply outstanding really helps.

The opening track, "Eyes of summer" is misleading. It is basically a straightforward, speedy, melodic power metal song, and isn't nearly as unique as the rest of the CD. That's not to say it isn't a fine opener. It's a very catchy speedster with clean vocals only, and a very catchy chorus. The band also goes for slightly faster than average speed here, which I always enjoy. But, it's on "Stormborn" where you realize there is more to the band than a simple melodic power metal style. It starts with a complete thrash riff, backed up by a guttural growl and not-quite-blast-beats. Once the song settles into the verse, it's all quite thrashy with low growling vocals. Then it transitions to a clean guitar and clean vocal section which is where Into Eternity first popped into my mind. The chorus has a mix of death and clean vocals. Possibly the biggest strength of Seven Kingdoms is that the vocal melodies are much more melodic and memorable than your average thrash band - particularly during the choruses.

"We do not sow" is another that follows in the thrashy/deathy mixed vocal format. The riffs here are really reminiscent of Iced Earth with the frantic gallop. "Blackwater rush" is notable for having an extended guitar solo section. While nowadays I normally frown at this sort of thing, I have to admit I love it here. The soloing is very melodic and memorable and reminds me a lot of some of the killer solos on the classic 'Walls of jericho' (Helloween) CD, or even a little 'Battalions of fear' (Blind Guardian) axe work. In fact, I just love Camden Cruz's lead guitar work throughout the CD. "The long night" is a favorite due to it just being a speed metal assault with catchy melodies.

The production of the CD is crystal clear with little in the way of frills. There are some keyboard parts here and there, but never overly prominent. The band has apparently parted ways with the keyboardist since recording this CD. They have also added an additional female vocalist, which should add an interesting dimension to their next CD. If you want something a little faster and much meaner than your average pretty power metal CD, while still being very melodic, and don't mind a good amount of growling vocals, then this is a pretty outstanding choice.



JOHN




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