For those local to the New England metal scene, Seven Spires have been kicking ass (probably the best then "underground" band the scene has seen since Fates Warning) for the past 6 years of so. Having had the pleasure to meet and chat with the members of the band, you can maturity well beyond their years. With boatloads of talent, inspiring creativity, commitment to success this was a band destined to be superstars, transcending the typical acts hailing from the region. Led by vampire twins - vocalist Adrienne Cowan (Avantasia) and guitarist/songwriter Jack Kosto - and featuring the brilliant, talented Peter Albert de Reyna (bass) and Chris Dovas (drums), Seven Spires literally blew the doors off of the prototypical "symphonic metal" tag with the overwhelming debut record "Solveig." Sadly, the tag tends to stick, even though the band is so much more broadly accessible and exciting than what is conjured up by that stigma.
With that said, the sophomore effort "Emerald Seas" treads a bit more in calmer waters than its brazen predecessor. While gorgeously performed and skillfully written, many of the album's songs feel as if the band falls back into the safety of the symphonic metal. Where "Solveig" brought incredible ferocity wrapped within an insanely theatrical symphonic shell, "Emerald Seas" immediately presents a bit more like a more epic atmospheric movie soundtrack. Prior to the release of "Solveig," Adrienne once described the band's vision so perfectly (paraphrasing) - "it appears 'normal,' but there is something not quite right, with an insanity lurking just behind the norm." On first listen to "Emerald Seas," the insanity that made the debut so fresh and exciting is a bit more repressed...that is, until you peel back the layers to reveal the concept behind the lyrics.
That quirky madness is "replaced" by layers and layers of the most tastefully written melancholic melodies, as the band tells the tale of a lone sea captain on his quest for eternal life, while being hunted by an ancient beast as he struggles with loneliness, sacrifice, alcoholism and all the pressure that comes with trying to achieve goals - a prequel to "Solveig." Listeners can easily tell that the band immersed itself in Hans Zimmer worship and 19th century romanticism. Knowing the theme lends credence to the "calmer nature" of the record, though the madness does break through here and there, especially in songs like "Drowner of Worlds" and "Fearless." By "madness," of course, I mean Cowan's darker, harsher, evil black metal split personality. Similar in fashion, though exceedingly more talented, Cowan's meteoric rise to worldwide fame recalls that of Alissa White-Gluz.
As "Emerald Seas" is the sonic embodiment of the silent emptiness that chills the captain as he stares across bleak, open and endless waters - multiple spins of the record reveals the band's true musical genius. The opener "Ghost of a Dream" has gargantuan orchestration, not unlike Turisas' "Take the Day," where the classical influences are off the charts. Cowan's clean side is remarkable, and on "Emerald Seas" it shines just as bright as Kosto's exceptional guitar playing, the anchor for the band's stunning sound (and already one of the best musicians in the world). Check out the rolling ebbs and flows of her pitch perfect vocals "Every Crest," the speedy uptempo "Succumb."
If there was a band that can easily upstage the gold standard for symphonic metal - Xandria - it is Seven Spires, even though my preference is for the darker side. It is no surprise that "Drowner of Worlds" is the album's best, representing everything I've come to love about Seven Spires. However, the sultry and alluring beauty of Cowan's smooth and astonishing voice on the power ballad "Silvery Moon" ranks a very close second. Other notables are "Unmapped Darkness" (that chorus is delicious) and equally brilliant "No Words Exchanged."
Mixed by the great Sascha Paeth (Avantasia), "Emerald Seas" received all the expertise needed to allow the vision to be given as much perfection to allow each member to shine.
In many ways, Seven Spires is all the proof one needs that the state of metal is safely within the hands of the youth. Your author feels like a proud father watching his children rise, embrace and completely conquer the very thing he has spent his life promoting. While distinctively different, when you peel back the layers of "Emerald Seas," the darker themes you expect are still there and the madness that seems a bit more contained still lurks beyond the norm, ready to slit your throat just when you get comfortable in the giant soft pillow of melody.
Label: Frontiers Music Srl (order album here)
Release Date: February 14, 2020
1. Igne Defendit
2. Ghost of a Dream
3. No Words Exchanged
4. Every Crest
5. Unmapped Darkness
7. Drowner of Worlds
8. Silvery Moon
9. Bury You
11. With Love from the Other Side
12. The Trouble with Eternal Life
13. Emerald Seas Overture
Check out the music video for "Drowner of Worlds" here:
Check out the music video for "Succumb" here: