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Tuesday 14 September 2021

Reviews: Seven Spires, Between Worlds, Impact Approved, Headless (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Seven Spires - Gods Of Debauchery (Frontiers Music Srl)

Formed at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Gods Of Debauchery is Seven Spires third album following on from 2017's Solveig and 2020's Emerald Seas. It is again a record that is darkly cinematic, the five piece bringing huge symphonic elements and progressive songwriting, wrapped up in a heavy style of metal that can be associated with bands such as Arch Enemy, The Agonist and Soilwork. Much of Seven Spires' approach is driven by singer/keyboardist Adrienne Cowan who easily changes between soaring highs and powerful roars, meaning the band can put as much power and melodic metal as they do death and black metal. Again this album was born out of the pandemic with touring not possible, either as Seven Spires or for Cowan as the vocalist for Sasch Paeth's Master Of Ceremonies. 

It seems that like with a popular brand of canned crisps, once they popped they couldn't stop because Gods Of Debauchery is a 16 track, 70+ minute record which features some guest turns from Casey Lee Williams, Jon Pyres and Roy khan (Conception, ex-Kamelot), the three of them adding to the theatrical nature of this record. I do have a bit of a problem with this record though, as musically it's slick and powerful, with the best bits of bands like Kamelot along with Soilwork but it is probably about 6 tracks too long, especially when they don't play four minute pop songs, though the dreadful Lightbringer is the exception. There's still lot of people who enjoy the symphonic metal style and when the melo-death sounds come in, it makes Seven Spires stand out from a very dense genre. 7/10

Between Worlds - Self Released (Frontiers Music Srl)

The return of Ronny Munroe is welcomed by myself , the well versed vocalist has tread the boards with Trans Siberian Orchestra and Metal Church, but his powerful pipes haven't featured on a release for a while but in 2019 he began to collaborate with... yep you guessed it! Alessandro Del Vecchio to write the songs for the project that eventually became Between Worlds. The resulting record is very much in the style of American heavy/power metal bands such as Metal Church, Savatage and Jag Panzer.The style of music suits Munroe's vocals perfectly, his powerful delivery and wide range adding some dynamism to heavy bouncing tracks such as Soul Chaser and on Scent Of An Angel that experience with TSO shines through, on what is a massive ballad. 

There's a talented band behind this creative duo, Alex Jansen and Michele Sanna are on bass and drums respectively. While Del Vecchio's long time collaborator Pete Alpenborg and TSO's Jack Frost take the guitars (rhythm and lead), with some guest appearances from TSO members John Lee Middleton (bass) and guitarist Chris Caffery, while the guest performers are rounded out by Joel Hoekstra with some six string wizardry. A melodic heavy metal album that sits comfortably in the US style of traditional metal, as a vehicle for the return of Ronny Munroe to non TSO projects. It's a record to showcase his excellent voice that features professional playing and songwriting. 7/10 

Impact Approved – Into The Fray (Wormholedeath)

Recorded and produced by drummer Uwe Reese, Into The Fray is Impact Approved’s debut album. Everything on the record was played by Uwe, with the exception of the vocals that were added by Philipp Kock over three week period. However as the album was coming together Uwe and Phil were joined by Armin Witt (guitars) and Maurice Zwoch (bass), who collaborated with the final mix of the record. The German band signed with Wormholedeath to release it digitally (having already been brought out as a CD). Into The Fray is Melodic Death metal nothing more or less, the band say they have drawn from djent, math/deathcore for new material but Into The Fray has quiet/loud dynamics in the guitar playing, shouted/croaked vocals and blasbeats so it’s about as melo-death as it gets. There’s a cinematic strings intro to Flame Of Madness, while many of the songs are probably a little too deathcore for my liking, especially in the vocals. However when they play a bit cleaner, like on Last Good Fight they are decent enough, although I have an issue with Phil’s almost black metal sounding vocal. At nine tracks it’s not an album that will have you giving up hope halfway through but I’m picky when it comes to melo-death and Impact Approved was just a little too one dimensional for me to enjoy it more than just in passing. 5/10

Headless – Square One (M-Theory Audio)

Italian band have featured the golden larynx of ex-Yngwie Malmsteen and Signum Regis vocalist Göran Edman since 2011. He returns along with founding members Walter and Enrico Cianciusi who take guitars and drums, long term guitarist Dario Parente and new bassist Martin Helmantel of Elegy for what is only the fourth full length from this band since they came together in 1993, though they were on hiatus from 2000 to 2011. So what style of music do Headless play, I hear you ask? As probably like me you will have never heard of the band (and if you have well done you). Headless are melodic metal band that balance AOR and prog rock/metal, a style that the Swedes do well with the now defunct Seven Tears coming to mind as soon as I pressed play on this one. Other influences are Styx and Queensryche who’s Scott Rockenfield was once a member of the band. Square One isn't going to change your life, but it's entertaining enough if you want a bit more bite to the normal AOR style. 6/10

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