Album review: SEVEN SPIRES – Emerald Seas

SEVEN SPIRES - Emerald Seas

Frontiers [Release date 28.02.20]

If only all concept albums were like this one…bittersweet melodic metal anthems liberally laced with apocalyptic metal tragedy. It’s such an accomplished piece of music that it belies the fact it is only the US band Seven Spires’ second recording.

And the concept? Well, the Kraken on the front cover is something of a clue, though the lyrics meander through the floridly poetic ‘No Words Exchanged’ to the amusingly philosophic ‘The Trouble With Eternal Life” without looking seaward.

In between, the music too covers a lot of territory. The band like to marry celtic flutes and percussion to traditional Eastern European music. Opening duo, ‘Igne Defendi’ and ‘Ghost Of A Dream’ could have stepped straight out of a Hans Zimmer or a James Horner movie soundtrack. The melodic core of these tracks – as in many movie scores – will be a recurring theme through the album. They are like little pockets of sound, gliding ghostlike through the recording – musical, catchy – a thread of electronic breadcrumbs, encouraging us to follow the trail.

‘Unmapped Darkness’ is unarguably the albums most theatrical piece. Annette Cowan’s voice swoops and soars all over this cinematic rock song. Her tough as teak mezzo soprano entertainingly trades vocal licks with her alter ego’s gritty growl, like Belle and The Beast fighting over Gaston.

Similarly on ‘Succumb’. Her vocal dexterity is easy to take for granted. She isn’t showy. She reaches for high notes and she grabs them with both hands and caresses them into our consciousness. Where they stay.

Elsewhere, the choral moodiness of ‘Drowner Of World’s’ and ‘Fearless” frame gutteral growls inside more spinetingling, Zimmer-esque widescreen orchestration. Perhaps more than any other track, they illustrate producer Sascha Paeth’s dazzling musical invention, showing us that Symphonic Metal doesn’t need to be just a surfeit of BPMs tied to a shipload of bombast.

And these songs have such memorable choruses. ‘Silvery Moon’ and ‘With Love From The Other Side’ creep up on you, and before you realise, they’ve sunk their hooks in deep.

This is the kind of symphonic metal that many bands aspire to… well written songs coated with a colourful veneer of grandeur, occasionally unconventional, and always memorably melodic.

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