Seven Witches - Amped 2.5/5
1. West nile
2. Sunnydale high
3. Dishonored killings
4. Moto GP
6. Fame gets you off
7. Flesh for fantasy
9. Widows and orphans
I have always been a dedicated fan of this band even if they do rotate vocalists on every other CD. Personally, I think the "Mental Messiah" James Rivera was their best vocalist choice to date; especially since Bobby Lucas truly reverberates the "Metallic Madness" of Overlorde, and the "Metal Tyrant" Wade Black is bonded to Leash Law. When I heard that Alan Tecchio had joined the ranks, I became enthusiastically amped; since he is one of my favorites and I worship Hades. Alan has always sounded majestic in everything he has performed as a guest vocalist from Watchtower 'Control and resistance' to Power 'Justice of fire'. So I was quite confident that he would promote Seven Witches to the level they deserve in America.
Before I distribute the accolades, though; I have to honestly proclaim that this CD is not exactly what I expected. Alan still sounds as awesome as he ever has, but sadly Jack Frost has recorded a really pallid and mediocre CD. The songs have lost their high intensity and wattage which were ever prevalent in the last few releases. Lyrically, the subject matter is slightly thought-provoking, even if it never serves to quite echo the metallic vibe. Those words which are penned by Alan revert to his thematic approach commonly explored with the last Hades CD 'Dam nation'. The context for some tracks is stimulating, yet seldom suggests to the listener that Alan is quite educated and that he himself writes for 'Steppin' out', a popular New York magazine. He has his own column where he critiques the various bars which he frequents, and his love for motorcycles and automobiles.
Alan also guests as vocalist with several other artists on Jack Frost's 'Out in the cold'. Even though there are several covers on this CD, the other songs on this solo effort are better constructed than those which were chosen for 'Amped'. This makes me wonder why those songs were not added to this CD which clocks in at just over 40 minutes. Given the fact that Jack Frost has released a great deal of music in a relatively short amount of time; I feel that his ample imagination has clearly short-circuited.
The opening track "West nile" has the over all witchy vibe with lyrics focusing on the deadly disease, and some punishing riffs; but give the precedent for such past metal openers on the last few CDs, this track just does not initiate the listener into the coven. Next up is "Sunnydale high" with its straightforward metal approach and classic Seven Witches stylistic propensity. Lyrically, Alan is in full form graphically telling the story of today's mispent youth with a Columbine tactic; where truth is stranger than fiction. Teen romance fiction this clearly is not! The guitars are shredding and Alan's vocals resonate in the pure Hades fashion. Next up is "Dishonor killing", which again would fit on any Hades CD from the last decade. The piercing yet plodding bassline and opening riff suggest that this will be a real crusher; but it isn't. Instead, it's a mid-paced tribal pummel with a sound similar (both musically and lyrically) to Alan's other band Non-fiction. Non-fiction never matched the musical intensity of Hades; but they still had Dan Lorenzo on guitars and Alan on vocals, so I listened to them; even if I never purchased many of their CDs.
"Moto GP" does pick up the pace with slightly more shredding while Alan celebrates one of the many hobbies of his life: racing, whether it be motorcycles or cars, Alan is transfixed by high speed endurance. This song is semi-autobiographical and the energy overall places the listener on the motorway as Jack imitates the sound of cars racing by with his guitar harmonics. Sadly, "BE" is just another benign ballad; perhaps written because Jack likes to impress b-cup chicks, or perchance Alan is sincerely striving to "be all he can be". Believe me, I'm not here to berate the band or the be all - end all theme of this song; but overall this effort is bereft of any metal significance. Then there is "Fame gets you off, which again reminds me how sleazy Jack can be. I've seen him in interviews where he talks more about nailing groupees, than he does about artisitic inspiration. After seeing him on the Metalium DVD, I almost gave up on listening to future CDs by him. I'm so greatful that I did not let his sybaritic convivialities cloud my judgement for what turned out to be quite an argosy of quality metal. I think Alan is trying to make a point in this song about egos and zealots, thus implying political overtones and his feelings on our involvement in costly wars. I just wish they could have chose a better song title.
Next up is the most deplorable Billy Idol cover ("Flesh for fantasy") I have ever heard. Why did they do another cover anyway? I guess this is a Seven Witches tradition; but Jack just released his 'Out in the cold' CD replete with covers. Will someone please tell me why he chose Billy Idol? I happen to really like Billy Idol. His last CD 'Devil's playground' was quite promising with the return of Steve Stevens shredding on guitars. This said, "Flesh for fantasy" is not one of the ex-Generation X's better songs and Seven Witches just tear the flesh out of this one. I wish they would have just added the excellent version of April Wine's "Sign of the gypsy queen" cover which they did so well on 'Out in the cold', or even the 38 Special or Foreigner cover, but not Billy Idol! This song is going to force many fans to relinquish all trust in Jack Frost, leaving him all alone dancing with himself.
Next up is "Red" another simple song title with some hooks, decent leadwork, and pounding rhythms, but very little contagious cadence. Finally, the album reaches it's conclusion with "Widows and orphans", which reminds me of the anthemic melodies of REO Speedwagon and Styx, 2 bands which I hope to hear Jack cover sometime in the future. The lyrics are heart wrenching and emotionally dedicated to those who have experienced the tragic pain from the loss of a loved one. This song may even carry personal connotations for Alan and Jack. I can definitely empathize with his poetic charm. This song really does bring closure to this laconic treatise. This ending track is a far better choice than the last track "Passage to the classical side" on the Jack's aforementioned solo effort which has very little to do with classical music as the name suggests, and never returns the listener to the glory of the insinuated CD.
So as I continue to "opinionate", I will suggest that this CD is still metal and Alan's vocals are as crystal as ever. My “Active contrition” comes from my desire to see Seven Witches become the new "Leaders" of the American Metal Underground. This means that they need to spend more time writing the music for their next CD, and they must solidify a solid line-up with real talent, maybe even adding a 2nd guitarist to ease Jack's tension. If they follow my simple advice, then 2007 may be the "year of the witch"; otherwise, this band will truly be exiled to infinity in a city of lost souls and never win.
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