REVIEW: Seven Spires – Gods of Debauchery

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American metal quartet SEVEN SPIRES is the best-kept secret of the metal scene. Or at least it would be if lead vocalist Adrienne Cowan wouldn’t have toured with AVANTASIA or been featured on Sascha Paeth’s MASTERS OF CEREMONY’s debut album, “Signs of Wings” (2019). She was also part of HEART HEALER’s album “The Metal Opera by Magnus Karlsson(2021). One could argue she’s on a roll as SEVEN SPIRES’ third full-length, “Gods of Debauchery,” will be released on September 10, 2021, via Frontiers Music.

I’ll start this review with a personal note: this is the album I have wanted to hear from SEVEN SPIRES ever since I started following them. I was extremely excited in early 2020 when they released “Emerald Seas” but its symphonic nature and serene beauty kind of threw me off, especially considering how different their debut album, 2017’s “Solveig,” sounds. However, “Gods of Debauchery” takes all the best elements from both and combines them into one exquisite release, while also continuing the story set up by “Solveig.” What is most impressive is how each of the sixteen tracks brings something different to the soundscape of the album that makes the 77 minutes of playtime feel that much shorter. Such a varied tracklist also gives “Gods of Debauchery” great playability, as on each subsequent listen you can discover new aspects of the music, or you can simply enjoy the complexity of the compositions in greater detail and just revel in Adrienne Cowan’s dulcet tones.

Grand and rich in textures, concept record “Gods of Debauchery” offers a wide array of musical styles within the all-encompassing umbrella of heavy metal, from accents of death metal and even some black metal, to symphonic metal and touches of progressive metal. The lead single and title track unleashes the band’s heavier side from the start and listeners get to hear Adrienne Cowan’s versatile growling styles and her bandmates’ prowess for their respective instruments. “The Cursed Muse” mixes things up as its melodic chorus offsets the harsh verses while the backing orchestrations add an extra layer of melody to sweeten the aggression of the guitars. There are a few other heavier numbers scattered on this album, like “Shadows of an Endless Sea,” “Gods Amongst Men,” or “Dreamchaser,” and their placement in the flow of the album is well thought of, as to break up the symphonic display and bring some drama and heft to the overall soundscape.

On the other hand, tracks like “Ghost of Yesterday” or “Echoes of Eternity” showcase their melodic and playful side, leaning a bit into oriental metal with some fascinating vocal and guitar melodies, while the drums and bass keep a steady rhythm underneath. “Lightbringer” (which features some vocals from Casey Lee Williams) is the curveball of the record, with its overtly pop vibes and repeated melodic hooks, feeling more like a dance number than a metal tune. “Dare to Live” is an anthemic track with a powerful bass presence and a groovy chorus, while “In Sickness, In Health” is a ballad á la SEVEN SPIRES, which means gentle verses, loud chorus sections, and an explosive guitar solo. Like most of their songs, it changes as it progresses, with some parts that don’t seem to fit in with the classic definition of what a ballad should sound like. “Oceans of Time” and “Fall with Me” are pure symphonic metal delights with gorgeous backing orchestrations. “Through Lifetimes” feels like the climax of the story, as the orchestrations and piercing violin lines rise in a furious crescendo, only to then give way to calmer passages.

One of the album’s amazing highlights is “This God is Dead,” not just because of Roy Khan’s vocals on but also because of how well put together this song is, from the orchestrations to the vocals lines and interaction between Adrienne and Roy, to the smooth flow of the different sections of the song. This track really is a microcosm of the album, as it has beautiful symphonic moments, harsher parts, orchestral breaks, and of course Roy Khan’s voice that brings serenity to the music, popping up at just the right time. Another highlight is “The Unforgotten Name,” a proper duet with Jon Pyres where the two vocalists blend their voices in an upsurge of emotions and harmonies, backed up by orchestrations and steady drums. It’s always interesting to hear harsh vocals in what otherwise feels like a ballad, but if the song demands it, why not do it? There’s also a musical leitmotif that brings cohesiveness to the album, and that is a reprise in various forms of the lyrics from “Wanderer’s Prayers.” This just goes to show you the crazy attention to detail that was put into the making of this album.   

The four members of SEVEN SPIRES are primarily storytellers and it shows in how complex and engrossing their music is. “Gods of Debauchery” is a great example of that. The songs don’t necessarily follow a certain structure, so it is only natural that they twist and change so as to accommodate the narrative that they are telling. Even if they are not very long, they are very rich sonically and quite cinematic, working together to create a tapestry of sounds, emotions, and textures that highlight the exceptional musicality within the band. To paraphrase something that Laureline said about JINJER, I don’t see SEVEN SPIRES in another line-up other than vocalist Adrienne Cowan, guitarist Jack Kosto, drummer Chris Dovas, and bassist Peter de Reyna, as they work so perfectly together to compose music that is on a whole different level than what most metal banda out there produce.  

Bottom line: “Gods of Debauchery” is the not-to-be-missed album of the year and SEVEN SPIRES is a band that deserves more recognition as the future flag bearers of symphonic metal.  

Written by Andrea Crow

Tracklist

  1. Wanderer’s Prayer
  2. Gods Of Debauchery
  3. The Cursed Muse
  4. Ghost Of Yesterday
  5. Lightbringer
  6. Echoes Of Eternity
  7. Shadow On An Endless Sea
  8. Dare To Live
  9. In Sickness, In Health
  10. This God Is Dead
  11. Oceans Of Time
  12. The Unforgotten Name
  13. Gods Amongst Men
  14. Dreamchaser
  15. Through Lifetimes
  16. Fall With Me

Lineup

Adrienne Cowan – Vocals and Keys
Chris Dovas – Drums
Jack Kosto – Guitars
Peter de Reyna – Bass

Label

Frontiers Music srl

Links

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