Return to the Past
All promotional material has hailed Seven Thorn's “Return to the Past” as a double-bass laden power metal release, faithful to the European style that has been so strong lately. I'd compare this most closely to early Edguy, Iron Fire, or maybe Dionysus's album Sign of Truth. There's nothing subtle about the guys from Seven Thorns or the music that they're pumping out on this release. This is cheesy, unrelenting, derivative, and good power metal, no question.
Despite being a relatively new name on the scene, Seven Thorns very clearly has the professional talent to stand amidst genre standards. With artists like Human Fortress and Nocturnal Rites dropping the ball a few years ago on what we'd hoped would be quality records, Seven Thorns was getting its foot in the door with their self-released The Glow of Dawn, which already showed the band developing as a cohesive musical force. With properly trained ears, I guarantee that you'll be able to discern the difference between Seven Thorn's take on hyper-melodic power metal and that released by most anyone else. This is in part due to its simplicity. The band holds with the basic song structures and similarly structured riffs and choruses that certainly lack novelty, but boast a certain consistency that's been lacking in a lot of the genre's greats.
To pin down what I mean, Seven Thorns has picked up a formula that's worked for previous bands and given it their own touch. Many critics will decry this as tepid, uncreative, and same-sounding drivel. That should be warning enough to anyone who doesn't care for bands like those I've mentioned. For those of us who appreciate this type of music, Seven Thorns delivers in spades. They're fast, often neo-classical in texture, and display nothing but the pinnacle of technical prowess. They may lack in creativity and adventurous songwriting, but I'll forgive them this for staying on the power metal “straight and narrow”. Several of their songs like “Forest Majesty”, “Liberty”, and “End of the Road” in particular carry melodies that will stay lodged firmly in your mind.
Everything else aside, the compositions are well-layered. Just the right amount of keyboard support here, add a triumphant trumpet call there, slather some J.S. Bach infused guitar leads over the top, and you've got a pretty tasty entree. The voice of Mr. Erik Blomkvist is well suited to Seven Thorn's escapade on Return to the Past, and I wouldn't mind checking into his other projects after hearing it.
This is more than a respectable album. Unlike a lot of other bands, most all of their musical contributors seem to be on par with each other, and I dare anyone to find a technical flaw in the recording. The only thing that is holding them back is a lack of imagination and distinction. Perhaps that will come with time. For now, I'm willing to accept Return to the Past as the good slice of metal that it has proven to be.
- - -
The Protagonist's Rating: 8.0 out of 10