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(51 min, IntroMental)
TRACK LIST: 1. Star of David 5:13 2. Taint the Sky 6:24 3. Waiting in the Wings 9:18 4. Banish the Wicked 5:36 5. Not an Angel 6:44 6. Devil's Inc 7:14 7. Walking Tall 4:20 8. The Edge of My Blade 6:32 LINEUP: Andreas Blomqvist - bass Johan Liefvendahl - guitar Tommy Karevik - vocals Andreas Soderin - keyboards Johnny Sandin - drums
Prolusion. One of the many bands patronized by the Danish company IntroMental Management, Sweden's SEVENTH WONDER was founded in 2001 by bassist Andreas Blomqvist, guitarist Johan Liefvendahl and drummer Johnny Sandin. Keyboardist Andreas Sodern joined them the next year, while singer Tommy Karevik is a newcomer. "Waiting in the Wings" is a successor to the band's first CD, "Become", which was released in summer 2005 - still, via the Finland-based Lion Music label. Northern community?
Analysis. I haven't heard "Become", but I am sure that the group have made progress since their debut release. Both in terms of songwriting and performance, "Waiting in the Wings" is an almost perfect album, sounding as though it's a brainchild of musicians who are experts in everything concerning Prog-Metal, with the experience of many years behind them. It's clear that the guys had time to thoroughly examine that genre's varied manifestations before they themselves became a band, but there is not even the slightest hint on this disc that would directly indicate any particular source of their inspiration, although their high technical skill, plus their ability to free-and-easily combine melody with eclecticism in their music, suggest the idea that Seventh Wonder are in the same 'weight category' as Dream Theater. "Waiting in the Wings" is a serious thing, profound technical Prog-Metal, the music having completely grasped my attention from the very beginning. This is stylistically monolithic material, exceptionally coherent throughout. Almost all of the disc's eight tracks have an epic magnitude, although most of them range from 5 to 7 minutes. Rather than detail each of the songs (no instrumentals here), I will just deal with some of them now, as the sound is pretty much the same from beginning of the album to the end, with only minor adaptations along the way, which I've yet to mention. Already the opening number, Star of David, contains so many different themes that I had to revisit it to get a vivid picture of its morphology. It looks like each of the band members is responsible for a separate direction: the guitarist and the bassist run the heavy textures, both providing showy quasi improvisations at times, the keyboardist weaves exclusively symphonic patterns, and the drummer just pelts with complex pounding beats, with the vocalist being on his own as well, hovering over all this amazing merging of directions like an exterior observer, telling a story of what he sees in the poetic language of singing. As a result, the music appears to be amazingly multi-layered, existing in a few dimensions at once, plus being filled with an aura of that notorious magic. Not an Angel, The Edge of My Blade and Waiting in the Wings are the same story, though it's the latter epic that I find to be the band's trump card, but not just because it is largely instrumental. Banish the Wicked, Taint in the Sky and Devil's Inc are each a bit richer in vocal-based arrangements than in purely instrumental ones, but just listen to how both resourcefully and intricately the players support the vocal storyline, revealing one of the finest examples of a performance whose dynamism is inseparably linked with its eclecticism (all of which, in turn, is typical of all the songs, excluding the seventh one). Banish the Wicked is also much in the primary style, standing out only for its classically inspired guitar solo. Taint in the Sky and Devil's Inc both differ from the others only in the fact that their central instrumental interludes are quite long and represent orchestral-like movements without the rhythm section. The remaining song, Walking Tall, is the one that I am not too much enthusiastic about. It is relatively short and, at the same time, vocal-heavy, with some notorious hooks which generally I hardly tolerate. Finally, it would be negligent not to mention that Andreas Blomqvists's playing is excellent, his bass being one of the most essential soloing instruments, which happens not too often in the Prog-Metal genre, only Iron Maiden coming to my mind as another striking example. The entire band is very tight though.
Conclusion. Seventh Wonder are, without a doubt, a very talented band. Their sound is very much their own, with tinges of a few predecessors, but never derivative. "Waiting in the Wings" comes highly recommended, particularly to fans of classic Prog-Metal. If the song I've described last had not been included, I'd have added an exclamation mark to the rating.
VM: November 10, 2006
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