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Seventh Wonder - Mercy Falls 5/5

Reviewed: 2-20-09


1. A new beginning
2. There and back
3. Welcome to Mercy Falls
4. Unbreakable
5. Tears for a father
6. A day away
7. Tears for a son
8. Paradise
9. Fall in line
10. Break the silence
11. Hide and seek
12. Destiny calls
13. One last goodbye
14. Back in time
15. The black parade

Yep, the many major progressive metal fans that have been raving about this CD for the last few months were right...

I don't really consider myself a progressive metal fan since I only dabble in the genre, so I passed on getting into Seventh Wonder when they first entered the metal world. I barely gave their debut 'Become' and 2nd CD 'Waiting in the wings' a glance as they were released, but after seeing tons of praise for their 3rd CD 'Mercy Falls', I decided to head off and do some serious and attentive listening of samples. Something about what I heard was calling for me to give this band a chance, so I quickly grabbed all 3 of their CDs, with my fingers crossed.

As I do with most bands that I get into, I began listening to their debut 'Become' first, and I was immediately impressed with the excellent musicianship and I even liked vocalist Andi Kravljaca, who I felt had a good voice. As for the CD as a whole, I ended up feeling like it was a promising debut, and I was already looking forward to hearing their 2nd CD. A month after starting to spin 'Become', 'Waiting in the wings' was thrown into my listening rotation and it was during only the first spin when I realized this is a very special band that had already surpassed the stage of simply being promising. The other thing I noticed right away was that the band had a new vocalist, Tommy Karevik, and while I liked Andi, calling Tommy superb is understatement, as his clear and melodic voice is up there with the best of them.

A month after my first spin of 'Waiting in the wings', the time had finally come for 'Mercy Falls', and even though I was aware the CD received tons of praise, I hadn't anticipated that it would completely blow me away. Seriously, how is it possible for this CD to be so amazing? I don't know, but I can tell you that I love EVERYTHING about it, and have had it in constant rotation for several weeks. I'm thrilled that Tommy returned as the vocalist, and quite honestly, whenever I'm not listening to this CD I'm craving to get it spinning again, as it's by far one of the most memorable CDs I've ever heard.

While 'Mercy Falls' (and Seventh Wonder in general) is definitely progressive metal, there are some hints of power metal (the opening moments of track 9 "Fall in line" for a quick example), it's easily heavy enough to satisfy, and surprisingly, there is plenty of speed present. This is not wierd, boring or wimpy progressive metal folks, it's all about catchy songs with spectacular melodies. So even though much of this CD could be lumped with Dream Theater and their many followers, there are some parts that bring to mind Circus Maximus, Pathosray, Anubis Gate, Symphony X, Pagan's Mind, Cloudscape, and even Serenity, Kamelot and Vanishing Point. The closest comparison is probably Circus Maximus, and while Seventh Wonder leans more toward progressive metal than most (or all) of these other bands, as far as heaviness, they're right on par. Plus, the few slow songs/parts are absolutely beautiful and the CD would surely lack something if they were absent.

'Mercy Falls' is a concept album, and it's an emotional one that has the ability to reach deep into your soul. The story takes place in a town called Mercy Falls and it's about a difficult family situation involving a man who finds out from his wife that the child he always thought was his isn't, and this leads to a car accident that puts the man in a coma. The concept has such an impact on the CD's emotional side and the fact that the band has captured this feeling is quite remarkable. In addition, there are some spoken-word parts and they help tell the story, while adding true life situations and personalities to this wonderful experience.

Musically, as you would expect, there are some long songs on this CD, but there are some short songs as well and everything balances out perfectly. The CD is always interesting, sometimes technical, sometimes symphonic, and is complete with brilliant time changes, memorable melodies, and really, there are some stunning musical segments. While it's usually guitarists that steal the show, keyboardist Andreas Soderin, drummer Johnny Sandin and bassist Andreas Blomqvist all have equal roles. That said, guitarist Johan Liefvendahl gives us an outstanding performance, but one aspect of this CD that's extremely impressive is that the music is sometimes led by the guitars, sometimes led by the keys, and is even sometimes led by the bass (there are some really cool bass lines). It's always a surprise to find out if the upcoming musical portion is going to be a guitar solo, a bass solo or a keyboard solo.

I obviously don't have a favorite song as every single one sits at the highest level of quality possible, and they flow together nicely to create this superb listening journey. I will add however, that I love how Tommy doesn't start singing until track 3 "Welcome to Mercy Falls", as the opening tracks build up to this song and there's some intense anticipation that's created. The closer "The black parade" has to be mentioned too, as it's a heavy yet memorable song that ends the CD with perfection and leaves a dramatic and lasting impression as the music fades. Seriously, every time this CD ends I immediately want to start it all over again, and it's over 70 minutes!

With so many metal bands in existence, I know I don't speak alone when I say that we all have to set limits on how many bands and genres/sub-genres we open our arms to, but 'Mercy Falls' is a flawless example of why we must make exceptions on occasion, and wander away from our favorite styles. So those of you who have passed on grabbing this CD because progressive metal isn't really your thing, know that this CD is more than heavy enough to satisfy, and beyond that, I have a hard time believing that anyone couldn't love this, regardless of where their main tastes lie. Not only is this one of the best progressive metal CDs I've heard, it's also one of the best CDs of the decade - regarding all of the styles combined that I listen to. Highest recommendation possible!!




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