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Given the history of half of the members of the band, it’s inevitable that Seventh Void will be compared to their former full-time band, Type O Negative. While there are certain similarities between the two, it is important to realize before listening that there are quite a bit more differences. As Kenny and Johnny have mentioned interviews, Type O’s music can get convoluted at times, and they started the band with the intention of writing more riff-driven, straight-up hard rock music. Despite being half of both bands, they are missing Peter Steele, who was the main song writer of Type O, and so the primarily bass and keyboard driven sound that characterized the band is totally absent here.
Enough of what we don’t have though, let’s focus on what we do. With Kenny Hickey at the helm, Seventh Void features a gritty, stripped down sound with guitars and the infamous RIFF at the forefront. Although we got hints of it in Type O, here Kenny’s voice takes the lead and his vocals really shine. He utilizes both his distinctly powerful trademark yell as well as a previously unused lower-register croon at times. Drawing heavily from good old Sabbath, the tempo of the songs on “Heaven is Gone” vary, but usually settle around mid-tempo. They still manage to keep your attention though, as the riffs are distinctly full of melody and Kenny’s vocals compliment them quite well. The vibe that the band captures is comparable to Sabbath of course, but there’s also the eerie darkness of Alice in Chains and Kenny’s voice conjures up shades of Soundgarden here and there as well.
Overall, Heaven is Gone is a really solid album. There’s a definite consistency to it, but some songs fall a little short as far as excitement goes. They’ve got a perfect balance of doom, groove and melody though to be accessible to fans of many styles of rock. I think any of the shortcomings will be easily remedied as they continue to make music and find their niche. With the tragic passing of Peter Steele earlier this year, it looks like this may be everybody’s full time band now. If one good thing can come out of such a terrible situation, we may just find a legendary band in Seventh Void.
Highlights: "Heaven is Gone," "Killing You Slow" and "Last Walk in the Light"
Perhaps due to bassist/vocalist Peter Steele's tendency to take the spotlight with his morbid sense of humor and the infamous Playgirl incident, the other band members of Type O Negative remain overlooked by many listeners. Hopefully with the launching of this new project, guitarist/vocalist Kenny Hickey and drummer Johnny Kelly may be able to get a taste of acclaim on their terms.
To get one thing established right away, this sounds almost nothing like Type O Negative. Seventh Void's debut may be packed with doom metal riffs and a dark atmosphere but it lacks the vampire aesthetics, combination of depressing and humorous lyrics, prominent keyboards, and low pitched vocals of their main band. Instead, we have a band that sounds like the love child of Alice in Chains and Soundgarden after being babysat by Black Sabbath. The guitar riffs have a muddy grunge quality, the music generally goes at a groovy mid-tempo pace, the lyrics are more cryptic, and Hickey's vocals manage to sound a lot like a scratchier version of Chris Cornell on many occasions.
The songs themselves showcase a strong balance of doominess and accessibility. Most riffs are able to get the listener's head bobbing in spite of their downtrodden nature and the choruses hospitably stay in the listener's mind even after the album is finished. The title track in particular has potential to be a fairly successful single. Unfortunately, a few tracks aren't quite as memorable as the more powerful highlights...
Overall, this is a fairly solid album that is worth checking out for fans of Type O Negative, grunge, stoner rock/metal, and doom metal. It may not be a top record this year, but it makes for an enjoyable listen.
1) Showcases a different side of its Type O Negative based founders
2) Songs are accessible and intelligently written
3) The riffs and vocals are nicely executed
1) It isn't the most unique or groundbreaking release
2) A few less memorable tracks
My Current Favorites:
"Closing In," "Heaven is Gone," "The End of All Time," "Broken Sky," and "Drown Inside"
A side-project is not a concept that rings kindly in the ears of most Metalheads, as the results of such endeavours are more than often half-assed and forgettable, neglecting the elements that made the involved people's original projects good in the first place. I could spend several paragraphs listing examples of such outright failures, so the fact that SEVENTH VOID is made up of Kenny Hickey and Johnny Kelly from TYPE O NEGATIVE along with two other chaps is not necessarily a seal of quality. But let's not go overboard with my personal dissatisfaction with side-projects as a phenomenon, any album needs to stand on its own legs, regardless of the members involved.
The only thing that seems to have been carried over from TYPE O NEGATIVE into "Heaven Is Gone" is a decidedly Doomy vibe. The music of SEVENTH VOID strays far into Stoner Rock territory, with the odd touch of Post-Grunge and Sleaze-Rock. The result is amazingly radio-friendly and catchy, with one sweaty, sexy song after another of pure hard-rocking pleasure. There is a strong taste of early ALICE IN CHAINS going on, with the odd Tom Morello-style riff thrown in, and Kenny Hickey shows that he's able to pull off more than the odd backing vocals.
The song-material on "Heaven Is Gone" is nothing short of excellent, and one could easily imagine almost every song here getting airplay and an accompanying music video. In particular, the songs "Shadow On Me" and "Last Walk In The Light" is the stuff megahits are made of, yet the material is diverse enough to warrant more than a few spins. This will probably throw off the hardcore doom fans, but in this case the potential for mainstream sucsess trumps the cult-appeal. In spite of being quite a dark album, "Heaven Is Gone" would fit just as well as background music for a cage-dancer as in a macabre horror film, and this broad appeal works as a charm.
If you're gonna have a soundtrack to driving around during hot summer nights in 2009, you might just as well make it SEVENTH VOID. Even if it means putting TYPE O NEGATIVE to rest for a while, I would love to hear more from this band in the not so distant future. Take off your kvlt-face for a while, listen to "Heaven Is Gone", and have a groovy time!
(Online June 23, 2009)
Written for the Metal Observer