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I like to describe Seven Witches as being like a cross between Manowar and Nevermore. They have gained attention in the metal community for their tendency to match modern aesthetics with classic metal oriented song structures. This album is considered by some to be one of their strongest efforts and is the first to feature Helstar vocalist James Rivera, the only album to fully feature Armored Saint bassist Joey Vera, and the last to feature drummer Brian Craig.
Musically, the band’s sound is dominated by solid hooks and generally fast paced riffs that cover a lot of metal styles. “Dance with the Dead” and “The Last Horizon” have a strong power metal feel to them. “Mental Messiah,” “Johnny,” and “Fever in the City” are practically speed metal. The title track is an epic ballad number. The band even embraces hard rock with their gritty cover of Def Leppard’s “Wasted.”
On the modern side (No pun intended), “Apocalyptic Dreams” features guitar effects that remind me of something that Tom Morello would try out, “Betrayed” is a mid-tempo groove track, and “Nature’s Wrath” brings to mind a less depressing Alice in Chains with its particularly crunchy riffs.
The band also puts on a solid performance throughout with guitars that are often melodic but with a strong crunch, vocals executed in shrieking Halford/Dickinson worship, and plenty of opportunities for the rhythm section to shine. Most listeners would be accurate when accusing the band of being cheesy, but I’m pretty sure that’s what they were going for in the first place. It is fairly obvious that the band exists to honor their musical heroes and they do a pretty decent job of doing so...
Aside from the cheesy themes, the album’s main flaw seems to manifest within the actual songwriting. While I do enjoy the variety that the songs offer, the album can be inconsistent at times. A few of the modern influences don’t seem to be worked in very well. It’s almost as if they couldn’t decide whether they wanted to write classic metal or modern metal. The lyrics also have a tendency to be a little bone-headed at times. All in all, it may be the best album that Seven Witches put out and would probably be a good purchase for newer fans.
1) Pretty accessible songwriting and good variety present
2) The band puts on a solid performance
1) People who hate cheesy music will nothing to enjoy
2) A few of the modern influences don’t fit in well
3) Elementary song lyrics
My Current Favorites:
“Dance With the Dead,” “Mental Messiah,” “Johnny,” “The Last Horizon,” and “Wasted”
It is for the first time that I decide to write a review about an album that I really really dislike. Fact is, there are few albums in my collection that can earn the label “not to be touched again”. And I’m not sad to say, “Passage…” is the king of them.
It’s one of these albums that you are sure about their quality, but when you get to listen it you just can’t believe how boring and flat they are. Fuck, I expected a lot more from the god-singer that recorded “Dark Queen”, “Run With The Pack” or even “The Watcher” with Destiny’s End. Yet what I listen to, is James Rivera as a shadow of himself. And I think Jack Frost is the mistake here. This guy really thinks he is…I don’t know who he thinks he is, but surely he is way too young to guide a legend like Rivera into vocal styles that just don’t match his voice. I mean, what the heck is this “Mental Messiah”? James Rivera trying to be Rob Halford in the “Painkiller” years? It’s a shame for both Rivera and Vera to play in this album. What about Joey? Hey, this guy is the one that slayed my ears off with his basslines in “A Pleasant Shade Of Gray” and “Disconnected”. It’s the one behind the thick sound of the heavy metal gods called Armored Saint. Yet I hear him following stupid double bass drumming that sounds way too funny even for Heavenly or Rhapsody. Ah…this pitiful drumming. I once read in an interview that the favourite bands of Seven Witches’ drummer are Iced Earth and Blind Guardian. Well, I am sure they are. This guy is completely out of the spirit. They said they were recording an old-school, 80’s-like heavy metal album, yet they appoint this rookie drummer that began to listen metal music with Blind Guardian and Stratovarius. And the result is that he screws up with his role. He blasts with double bass drumming EACH and EVERY moment. Man, this is tiring. Get off the stool and go play German power metal, because you can’t just play straight, 80’s heavy metal.
I bought this album having read that it’s the rejuvenation of classic heavy metal. But, as far as I’m concerned, this one is the genre’s funeral bell. Crappy stuff. Even the choice of covering Def Leppard is totally lame. “Dance With The Dead” tries to stand away from the swamp, with Rivera in Helstar-like singing, but the drummer just pulls it back in with a continuous double bass triggered hammering that really gets on my nerves. This is not my heavy metal. Out of sight, out of mind. Keep away.