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SEVEN – Shattered

sevenshatOnce upon a time (the eighties) in Great Britain there was a little band called Seven. Like so many other bands in the 80′ rock scene, Seven played melodic hard rock with a big chunk of AOR, they had the cute looks and all the cool clothes and like so many others, they were set for world domination. Well, in reality, the band – singer Mick Devine, guitarist Keith Mcfarlane, bassist Pat Davey, drummer Austin Lane and keyboardist Simon Lefevre – got themselves a manager in John Wolff (The Who, John Parr) who got them on shitloads of tours, even with full-blown pop acts such as Jason Donovan (anyone remember him, Kylie Minogue’s old boyfriend?), Richard Marx and The Monkees. Maybe not the most optimal gig for a rock band but they did reach out to really big crowds. In turn, the band got in touch with the head on Polydor Records who had attended a show with his family. Clearly impressed, he got to hear Seven’s demos, which they had a lot of (some of the songs had actually been played on Radio One in GB) and offered them a deal to record a couple of singles. The rumour that Seven actually recorded a full album that later got shelved and the band dropped is inaccurate. Two singles, “Inside Love” and “Man With A Vision”, was recorded and released with John Parr (“St Elmo’s Fire (Man In Motion)”) producing, but that was all that came out of the deal and for reasons unknown to me the band split up, leaving at least two albums worth of demo material.  A quick jump to 2014 and Seven’s bass player Davey was working on a project for Escape Music when his old band came up in a conversation. It turned out that one of the heads of Escape, Khalil Turk, used to be a big fan of Seven back in the day and threw the question if the guys would be interested in releasing their old demos as a whole album. They did. Contact was taken with Swedish producer / guitar player Lars Chriss (Lion’s Share) and together he and the band started to send files over the cyber space – since everyone involved were spread out all over the world, South Africa, U.K., Sweden, it was the only way to get things done. The self-titled debut album was finally released in June 2014 to much critical acclaim (yes, it is a very good album) with Chriss and his old band mate Andy Loos adding some guitars and bass to some of the songs and guest keyboard players such as Mark Mangold, Adam Wakeman and Didge Digital (ex- FM) also played on the record.

The album was supposed to be a one-off but everything turned out so well that the idea of a follow-up was immediately brought up. Devine and Mcfarlane got to work on new songs that was finished up with the help of Chriss, Loos, Jeff Paris, Fredrik Bergh and Kay Backlund. But this time, when it was time to record, only Devine remained from the original line-up and the rest of the performances were played by Chriss (guitars and drums), Loos (bass) and Bergh and Backlund (both on keyboards) and that is where we’re at now. September 23 2016 will the new album from Seven see the light of day. I’m guessing that many fans wonder whether they will be able to top the quality of the debut – or at least make it equally as good. Another question is, with all the material they had back in the day, how come Seven only made one album out of those? Didn’t the rest of the songs hold up or are they being saved for a third release? On that we can only speculate so let’s leave it at that and go through the record instead.

The album kicks off with “Light Of 1000 Faces” and musically, it stands clear that it is the same AOR-ish melodic rock that they gave us on the debut. The whole vibe is mid eighties retro music but with an updated sound. The tune is as catchy as can be and everything is spot on – the melodies, the harmonies, the lead vocals – AOR at its best. “A Better Life” is pure brilliance and if this song had been released in 1989, it would have made Seven superstars. It reminds me of the Kelly Hansen fronted Foreigner and what’s not love about that? “Fight” lies on the heavier side of AOR with a pulsating bass and big drums and the melody sticks right off the bat – awesome! The title track follows and it holds a slower pace sniffing around in ballad territory, but still not quite a real ballad and the guitar arrangement and melody throws a nod at Def Leppard. Over all, a really good song. “Live This Life” brings the pace up a bit and it comes with a really nice groove. It’s an ok song, but I find it a bit bland. On the other hand, the big pop chorus of “Pieces Of You” just kills. The melodies, both in the verses and the refrain, is really strong and it sticks to the hum part of the brain immediately. The Foreigner influence is back on the power ballad “Broken Dream”. It’s a decent song but it never really lifts and it lacks something that can take the song from decent to great. “High Hopes” brings the album back up and to me, this is a hit. It has a bit of a Journey vibe and the chorus is nothing but outstanding. “I Needed Time” is a half-ballad that has a Foreigner meets Bon Jovi vibe. I like the track, it’s good, but it doesn’t move me enough to call it great. “Taking Over” kicks things back into motion with a big chorus that goes for a KO right away and has a chorus that is lethal – this is AOR heaven. The record ends with “Last Illusion”, a brilliant AOR rocker with a Magnum feel, a big chorus and some major catchiness that leaves you wanting more – a splendid way to close the album.

For all of you who liked / loved the debut this album is a real no-brainer because it is even better. Sure, there are songs that doesn’t cut it all the way, but on the other hand there are no bad songs AND there are lots of great ones. For the average AOR-fan who have never heard of this band, it’s the same no-brainer, this album should at least be checked out by all of you. There’s nothing new or revolutionary about this album at all, but instead you get a bunch of killer tunes, pink and fluffy melodies, catchy choruses and AOR arrangements made in heaven. The production also hits bulls-eye. The sound is very much 80’s AOR but without the plastic and sterile productions that many AOR and melodic rock album had back then. I don’t wanna use the word modern, let’s just call it an 80’s production with a big update – it’s smooth and clean, with the roughest edges cut off but it is still with some punch and it doesn’t sound dated one bit. The musical performances are all spot on by great musicians and Mick Devine has a voice perfect for this kind of music, a very good singer. Not much to think about, right? So what are you waiting for, just go out and get it.

8/10

Tracklist:

1. Light Of 1000 Eyes
2. A Better Life
3. Fight
4. Shattered
5. Live This Life
6. Pieces Of You
7. Broken Dream
8. High Hopes
9. I Needed Time
10. Taking Over
11. Last Illusion