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Seven Thorns - Return To The Past - 75%

padshiyangel01, June 24th, 2012

Spurning the recent trend of power metal bands mixing in other elements such as progressive or gothic touches, Danish sextet Seven Thorns announce their proper full-length début under their current lineup, Return To The Past, as “no bullshit, just pure power metal”. That gives a fairly solid idea already with regards to expectations, but it does nonetheless beg the question of whether a band can worship at the European power metal tri-altar of Helloween, Gamma Ray and Stratovarius while also retaining musical integrity and creating something catchy and yet with substance.

Quick out of the gates, lead single “Liberty” introduces the Seven Thorns sound as triumphant top-speed melodic metal, with founder Borup leading the way on his double-kick drums, closely followed by Tuxen and Strøjer on thunderous rhythm guitars, and Marker’s bass receded somewhere in the mix. The synth lines float around as per requirement, provided by Nielsen and guest Mikkel Henderson (Evil Masquerade), but standing front and center-stage is vocalist Blomkvist, with a slightly rougher voice than the pseudo-feminine style that many adopt nowadays. The formula recalls elements of Masterplan and Stratovarius, and perhaps unsurprisingly some At Vance (there’s a guest shred solo from Olaf Lenk himself), but the band don’t limit themselves to these authorities alone.

Other influences creep in along the way; of particular interest is the brass-aided Siège Perilous-era Kamelot feel of “End Of The Road”, particularly around the solo, while “Freedom Call” sounds like a blend of Gamma Ray and, well, Freedom Call. “Spread Your Wings” may well be a Queen reference, but not musically; instead being a blend of Iron Maiden and Hammerfall, with one of the rare high-pitched wails which Blomkvist emits. His voice, while hardly octave-stretching, complements the tracks well, and occasionally seem the only aspect that separates some of them. The rhythm guitar tracks in particular are a bit homogenous, particularly with “Countdown” and “Fires And Storms”. Conversely, “Through The Mirror” introduces some staccato riffing, along with a fun keyboard solo, even if the lyrics are quite predictable: “Why do I hide when I have the power inside?”.

The band do have a couple of other aces up their sleeves, though. One of these is in the intro of “Forest Majesty”, an older track taken from a previous single, which commences gently with some relaxing wind instruments before the usual fanfare takes over. The second ace is in the solo work, echoing something of Niels Vejlyt, and is definitely to be commended, dominating the latter half of many a number. Surprisingly, the closer title track has very little to distinguish it from the rest of the album, except for a 10-second acoustic guitar break, but that doesn’t detract from it being a solid song.

Return To The Past is an accurate description of the band’s modus operandi, and a fitting tribute to the glory days of power metal, evoking many an oldschool outfit throughout the album. Seven Thorns are not setting out to rock the boat, but power metal addicts still have good cause to check this out. Connoisseurs will know the score already, but can still certainly join in on the jubilant choral sections and headbang alongside the newcomers to this genre, for whom Return To The Past is a fine starting point.

Originally written for

Epic Homage to Classic Power Metal. - 75%

MetalRecusants, June 24th, 2011

Metal heads across the globe agree that power metal originated in the late 80’s with the band from Germany called Helloween. Combining high speed tempos with galloping guitars and soaring vocals, this style became one of the most popular subgenres of heavy metal. Seven Thorns is a Danish power metal band following in those harmonic roots.

The group was originally founded in 1998 by drummer Lars Borup but their early career was mired by lineup changes and lawsuits. Now, with a solid lineup in place, the band has released Return to the Past. This album can be considered the band’s debut since the 2007 album “Glow of Dawn” was released under the name 7Thorns.

“Return to the Past” can best be described by its title because it pays epic homage to classic power metal bands like Helloween, Iced Earth or Sonata Arctica. The album is packed with the speedy guitar work of Gabriel Tuxen and Christian Stroger, whose solos are so fast and clean it sounds like they are picking the notes out of thin air. An additional guest solo from Olaf Lenk of the band At Vance adds spice to the track “Liberty”. The grandiose keyboards are played by Asger W. Nielsen who is assisted on some tracks by guest artist Mikkel Henderson of the groups Fate and Evil Masquerade. Vocalist Erik “EZ” Blomkvist tightens the music by singing with a force that invokes power as much as it does respect. Not to be forgotten are the timely drums provided by Borup which seem to cement the songs together, not often heard in this style of music. The overall production quality of the music is surprisingly good, enriching the listener with clear tempo changes, epic sounding keyboards and legible vocals.

The lyrical content deals with classical power metal themes such as the camaraderie of battle or the concept of life after death. The songs are mostly short and the verse-chorus-verse structure keeps the listener involved. The song “Spread Your Wings” is a great example with lyrics so catchy the song is sure to become a concert favorite. Other stand out tracks include “Through the mirror”, “Countdown”, “Freedom Call” and “Liberty”, a song which the band shot a music video for (view below).

Seven Thorns: Return to the Past is nothing you haven’t heard before. The music is an entertaining distraction for those who don’t take their metal too seriously. The surprising guitar work gives the album some repeatability, all and all a solid effort.

(originally written for

Frolicking, but tight and proficient. - 77%

AnalogKid, January 13th, 2011

All promotional material has hailed Seven Thorn's “Return to the Past” as a double-bass laden power metal release, faithful to the European style that has been so strong lately. I'd compare this most closely to early Edguy, Iron Fire, or maybe Dionysus's album Sign of Truth. There's nothing subtle about the guys from Seven Thorns or the music that they're pumping out on this release. This is cheesy, unrelenting, derivative, and good power metal, no question.

Despite being a relatively new name on the scene, Seven Thorns very clearly has the professional talent to stand amidst genre standards. With artists like Human Fortress and Nocturnal Rites dropping the ball a few years ago on what we'd hoped would be quality records, Seven Thorns was getting its foot in the door with their self-released The Glow of Dawn, which already showed the band developing as a cohesive musical force. With properly trained ears, I guarantee that you'll be able to discern the difference between Seven Thorn's take on hyper-melodic power metal and that released by most anyone else. This is in part due to its simplicity. The band holds with the basic song structures and similarly structured riffs and choruses that certainly lack novelty, but boast a certain consistency that's been lacking in a lot of the genre's greats.

To pin down what I mean, Seven Thorns has picked up a formula that's worked for previous bands and given it their own touch. Many critics will decry this as tepid, uncreative, and same-sounding drivel. That should be warning enough to anyone who doesn't care for bands like those I've mentioned. For those of us who appreciate this type of music, Seven Thorns delivers in spades. They're fast, often neo-classical in texture, and display nothing but the pinnacle of technical prowess. They may lack in creativity and adventurous songwriting, but I'll forgive them this for staying on the power metal “straight and narrow”. Several of their songs like “Forest Majesty”, “Liberty”, and “End of the Road” in particular carry melodies that will stay lodged firmly in your mind.

Everything else aside, the compositions are well-layered. Just the right amount of keyboard support here, add a triumphant trumpet call there, slather some J.S. Bach infused guitar leads over the top, and you've got a pretty tasty entree. The voice of Mr. Erik Blomkvist is well suited to Seven Thorn's escapade on Return to the Past, and I wouldn't mind checking into his other projects after hearing it.

This is more than a respectable album. Unlike a lot of other bands, most all of their musical contributors seem to be on par with each other, and I dare anyone to find a technical flaw in the recording. The only thing that is holding them back is a lack of imagination and distinction. Perhaps that will come with time. For now, I'm willing to accept Return to the Past as the good slice of metal that it has proven to be.

Originally written for