SEVENTH WONDER – Tiara

Ok, so what can I say about my relation to Seventh Wonder then? Well, first of all, I have no relation to Seventh Wonder what so ever. Come to think of it, I don’t think I have ever listened to any of their studio albums even once. Two years ago, I received a reviewer’s link for their double live disc Welcome To Atlanta – Live 2014 but due the fact that the day only holds 24 hours, I just didn’t have time to review it. I listened to it, though and even though I thought it was ok, it didn’t really made an impact on me. I have known OF the band for many years, though and I have heard a lot of good things being said about them so believe it or not, I was pretty psyched to sink my teeth into the new record.

Seventh Wonder is a Swedish progressive, Melodic Hard Rock band that started out in 2000 by guitarist Johan Lievfendahl, bass player Andreas Blomqvist and drummer Johnny Sandin who were joined by keyboard player Andreas Söderin and singer Ola Halén, who was replaced after only a year by one Andi Kravijaca. That line-up remained consistent for five years and one album, Become (2005), before Kravijaca left and was replaced by one Tommy Karevik, who in 2012 also became the new vocalist for American Metal band Kamelot. He can also be heard on Ayreon’s The Theory of Everything (2013) and The Source (2017). This line-up was intact for three more records and five years when drummer Sandin jumped ship and was replaced by Stefan Norgren and that is the line-up responsible for the new record.

The album opens with the instrumental intro “Arrival”. Orchestrated with a cinematic feel, it builds up an atmosphere which works like a charm. The first “real” song “The Everones” is an upbeat and quite heavy progressive rocker. It’s a powerful and punchy tune with Metal tendencies but it’s also very melodic. We’re given hook by hook here and the catchiness is all over the tune which is great as the tune contains some mechanical sounding effects on Karevik’s voice. Very good. “Dream Machines” is both pompous and bombastic but also pounding and tough. With heavy and dark verses, the contrast to the AOR-laden chorus is really big but it works brilliantly. A very catchy refrain and a really good song. Single-material. “Against The Grain” is Melodic Rock gone Prog. It’s heavy and riff-happy with a pomp-laden keyboard on top, a softer passage and the refrain catches on immediately. It reminds me a bit of early Dream Theater, when they brought along their melodic hooks.

First taster “Victorious” is heavy and punchy with big guitars and a smooth and striking main melody that lies like silk blanket over the progressive Metal that is the song’s ground. The tune hits bulls-eye with a huge, AOR-laden catchy refrain that makes this a pretty obvious – in a good way – choice as the first release of the album. But the first single is the next tune up, “Tiara’s Song (Farewell Pt 1)”. It’s a mid-paced, grandiose and pompy progressive Melodic Hard Rock tune. It changes direction a few times, something that do not make this an obvious first single and feels like a brave move but when the chorus comes in, I get why it’s a single – it’s catchy has hell with lots of hooks. Great stuff. The second part of the Farewell trilogy is “Goodnight (Farewell Pt 2)”, a slower, progressive ballad. It starts out soft with smooth melodies but is heavies up somewhat, still on a ballad note but a bit more cinematic. It ends surprisingly like an acoustic, pub-song with a sing-along crowd. Brilliant.

The trilogy’s last track “Beyond Today (Farewell Pt 3)” starts out as a piano ballad that sounds like it’s taken right out of a musical. When the strings comes in, the tune gets more orchestral and pompous and the smoother laden main melody is glorious. A grandiose refrain is also a bit slick but the tune itself is so powerful, it’s hardly noticeable. Fantastic. “The Truth” holds an acoustic intro but as soon as a groovy drum beat comes in, the song turns into an upbeat ballad, full of strings and a highly memorable main melody. After half of the song a female voice – that’s Tommy’s sister Jenny by the way – comes in and almost steals the show. What a voice! It’s a smooth tune but not mawkish or sugary. The feeling of listening to a musical stays and is even bigger than on “Beyond Today”. A good tune. “By The Light Of The Funeral Pyres” is heavy and tough in a faster pace where they takes a step into Prog-metal but still very melodic. It’s punchy and rough, pompy and bombastic with a killer refrain – very good.

“Damnation Below” is an uptempo rocker, both ballsy and bombastic with a progressive groove that makes me think of a Dream Theater gone Melodic Rock. While it is quite intense and muscular it also holds a vocal melody that catches on quite fast, especially the chorus. It also shifts to another passage when the big, heavy and dark middle-break kicks in. Good one. “Precession” is a short interlude that takes us into the closing track “Exhale”. Heavy and rhythmic with a bounce, this mid-paced prog-rocker also sports an AOR influenced main melody and an arrangement that once more makes me think of musical of some sort – and with its nine minutes, the tune really is a small musical in itself. The big, catchy chorus and the somewhat smooth melodies makes the tune feel a lot shorter than it actually is. A good way to close an album of this calibre.

Since this is a concept album it’s only natural that the whole thing comes across like a big Prog-Metal musical and while many of those can be quite hard to get into, this album is actually quite easy listened despite the overblown and bombastic arrangements. Throughout this album I came to think of bands like Dream Theater, Dynazty, Ten and Circus Maximus, but that doesn’t mean that Seventh Wonder are copy-cats without a style o a sound of their own. Nothing on this album is cloned and I figure the likeness of those band are simply circumstantial. That these guys can play and that Karevik is a brilliant isn’t even under discussion and that the songs are well-written and the production is top-notch is also a fact. The thing with the album that bugs me is that it doesn’t stay with me – while I listen to it, I really dig it but when the album is done, too many songs have left my mind. I guess it’s a grower and who knows, in a year’s time I might be floored but as for now, it’s a good album that doesn’t linger.

6/10

Tracklist:

1. Arrival
2. The Everones
3. Dream Machines
4. Against The Grain
5. Victorious
6. Tiara’s Song (Farewell Pt. 1)
7. Goodnight (Farewell Pt. 2)
8. Beyond Today (Farewell Pt. 3)
9. The Truth
10. By The Light Of The Funeral Pyres
11. Damnation Below
12. Precession
13. Exhale

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