There are so many reasons why it makes me happy to no end that I am a fan of so many great local bands (many of which I also call great friends.) Not only do I have a seemingly neverending supply of kick ass shows and music to check out, but it also enables me to check out other music. Sure, most of the time the other bands I’m seeing are other local bands too, but every once in a while my attendance at a show to support an area band I am a fan of turns me on to a national act. In this instance had it not been for the fact that I am a fan and avid supporter of the guys in Avalon Steel, I may never have gotten to see Seven Kingdoms. (OK, so that’s probably not entirely true, as I was supposed to have seen them a year or so prior opening for Blind Guardian, but I missed that show. Despite purchasing the downloads of their albums at that time, for some reason I either never got around to listening to them or I did and it just didn’t connect with me. I can’t remember, I’ve slept since then.) After seeing them live my girlfriend and I became rabidly avid (avidly rabid…) fans of their music and of them as people. One of the nicest bands I’ve been lucky to meet over the years. This year the band have unleashed an EP unto the world and it doth rule!
In the Walls and is a four song EP showcasing two new tracks and two re-recorded songs from their first album that featured a different vocalist (Bryan Edwards who returns to the fold on “Stormborn” providing the harsh vocals.) After their debut the band opted to go in a different direction, and brought in current singer Sabrina Cruz. As much as I enjoy the first album with Edwards, the band really gained stronger traction with the addition of Cruz and bassist Aaron Sluss. With Sabrina’s tremendous vocal prowess adding so much more to the music it propelled them to realms that frankly would’ve been unachievable as its original form. With In the Walls in particular, the group is displaying a level of ability that towers over their prior releases (includuing those with the current line-up.) Majestic, grand, and with a level of brutality of a Death Metal band while still remaining very much a Power Metal band, this EP fucking destroys.
The new tracks show a level of songwriting maturity that comes with a band whose chemistry gets stronger the more they play together. “In the Walls” (inspired by Lovecraft) and “Undying” are absolutely heavy metal brilliance; amping up the heaviness is really a nice component, especially with the six string mastery of Kevin Byrd and Camden Cruz, not to mention the brilliance of drummer Keith Byrd and bassist Sluss. The EP is rounded out with re-recordings of two songs from the debut Brothers In the Night (“The Bloody Meadow” and “Stormborn.”) I’ve often wondered what those songs from that album would song like with Sabrina on vocals (other than live) and now I have my answer for two of them: incredible.
Seven Kingdoms are definitely a band that are hopefully on the cusp of big things. They have a handful of live dates coming up, plus a mini-tour with Evergrey next Spring, and with such an strong collection of songs on this EP In the Walls alone (not mentioning a small yet stout catalog of immensely astounding songs,) the band will hopefully become a bigger commodity in the metal world sooner rather than later. My only complaint with In the Walls? It’s too damn short! I’m already chomping at the bit for more music from Seven Kingdoms. Get this album while you still can because it has limited availability – I assure you, you don’t want to miss out on this one. ****1/2
Review by Chris Martin
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Power Plays w/c 19 February
THUNDERMOTHER Revival (Despotz Records)
THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT There’s Still Time (Earache)
TAX THE HEAT The Last Time (Nuclear Blast)
DOOMSDAY OUTLAW Spirit That Made Me (Frontiers)
BAD WOLVES Zombie (Eleven Seven Music)
ALL THAT REMAINS The Thunder Rolls (Eleven Seven Music)
Featured Albums w/c 19 February (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 TOTO Greatest Hits: 40 Trips Around The Sun (Sony Legacy)
12:00-13:00 SHIRAZ LANE Carnival Days (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 THE LYNNES Heartsong For The Radio (indie)
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