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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Seven Against Thebes

Seven Against Thebes

Review by Gary Hill

I reviewed some of these songs on the EP. For the sake of consistency the track by track reviews of those cuts are modified or included here intact. Overall, this is an intriguing album, that’s sort of a concept album. It rocks out very well, but also wanders towards progressive rock at times. This, like Rush used to be described, is “thinking man’s music.” Still, it’s quite possible to shut the mind off and just ride this album from start to finish. That works quite well and provides a unique and exciting experience, too.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Serpens Caput

Atmospheric tones open this. Then world music sounds come in, setting a mysterious and otherworldly tone for the proceedings. The sound is a bit weird, but also quite cool. Some metallic elements tentatively rise up later, with a noisy guitar soaring overhead. As a more full band treatment is heard we still have those world music elements in the mix. This does a great job of setting the tone. It eventually segues into the next tune.

7.A.T.
This comes in with a riff that sounds like old Rush. Then it drops to just percussion for a punk rap. The cut alternates between that punk rap and a more powered up, but equally raw punk rock jam. There are some real hardcore sections.
Equilibrium

As drums open this it feels like it could be some kind of progressive rock or melodic alternative rock piece. It powers out, though, into something a lot harder rocking. That harder rocking sound is a bit like some kind of grunge or alternative rock. Stone Temple Pilots is a good reference point, but with some Guns N Roses added to the mix. The verses are delivered over a stripped back arrangement, but the choruses get more powered up and rocking.  The guitar solo section is unusual, feeling a bit like garage-oriented psychedelia.

Nemesis

A more purely accessible and mainstream number, this one has a lot of straightforward alternative rock in the mix. It’s a highlight of the set.

Mask

Backwards tracked sounds start this, bringing some psychedelia to the table.  It works out from there into a screaming, rather off-kilter jam that’s got a lot of punk rock and heavy metal built into it. It’s a real raw screamer. Then it drops back to more stripped down sounds that are more like metallic progressive rock. It shares that stripped down verse meets harder rocking chorus sound. There’s definitely a lot of punk in the mix on this thing.

7th Sign

This one starts tentatively on acoustic instrumentation. It grows out in that format with some Spanish styled guitar. The vocals come in over the top of that, bringing sort of a folk rock texture to things. The vocal performance on this gets quite inspired and there are some intriguing changes in the music, without every rising up beyond the acoustic background. Odd as it seems, this might be my favorite song on the whole album.

Prey for Me

Rising up with weird textural sounds, this powers out into a punky riff based jam that’s quite cool. That punk sound is merged with a more metal texture as this crunches forward. There’s a weird noise jam with world percussion in the backdrop later. Then a killer guitar solo climbs out over a more rocking arrangement.

Feed the Furnace

Believe it or not, this hard-edged rocker is a reworking of Emerson Lake and Palmer’s “Knife’s Edge.” Turned into a metallic jam, it really works well. This is one my favorite tracks of the whole set. Really, there was always a hard rocking edge to the cut, even when ELP did it. So, adding some crunch and intensity really works nicely.

Swandiver

The melodic introduction here is pretty extensive and punctuated by bursts of harder rocking music. This number really makes me think a lot of Stone Temple Pilots but with some hints of Guns N Roses, too. It’s a bit more mainstream than some of the other cuts here It’s quite an effective rocker and a cool tune. There is a tasty melodic guitar solo section mid-track.

Ophiuchus

Jimi Hendrix meets world music on this noisy, psychedelic interlude. While there is percussion, it’s mostly a guitar solo, but more in a textural rather than flashy way. There is a little bombast right near the end of this instrumental.

Suicide Note

Powering out fast and furious, there is both metal and punk in the mix here. When it drops to a stripped down arrangement for the verses, it’s more purely alternative rock. Some of the vocals on this track are a little hard to take.

Serpens Cauda

The same type of world music sounds that started the album are heard at the beginning of this ending instrumental. This works out to some seriously metallic jamming pretty quickly, though and this is quite a dynamic and complex piece of music that just plain rocks. It’s a great way to end the set in style.

 
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