CD REVIEW: Seven Against Thebes - Seven Against Thebes
By: Neil Thomas
"New hard hitting Seattle sound"
- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST -
Artist: Seven Against
Weakness: Lackluster production quality
Seattle alternative metal outfit “Seven Against Thebes” have released their long awaited, self-titled, full-length album through Kavati Arts. The band consists of Rusty Hoyle (Voice), Cyrus Rhodes (Guitars), Bruce Burgess (Drums) and Mr Black (Bass Guitars) and their name is lifted from Greek Mythology. This is evidently utilized for some of the lyrics to their songs.
The album starts with an atmospheric intro, setting the scene with the flavours of the mystic east. Indian sitar notes provide for an aura of spiritual escape and you can almost smell the incense as you are lured into a false sense of security before the onslaught begins. “7.A.T” launches into a very anthemic piece with Hoyle switching between angry rant in the verses and harmonized vocal choruses. Rhodes drives the message home with a battery of heavy riffing guitar work whilst the backbone of the band carries the weight with double-pedal bass drum and growling bass. This is meaty stuff and it doesn’t let up after the opener, with the band serving up a monolithic masterpiece, song after song after song. The lyrical content of each track is superb, with Hoyle delivering each line like he really means it! I especially like the way that guitarist/producer Cyrus Rhodes leaves appropriate space where necessary, ensuring that the vocals are not constantly drowned and that the songs retain that all important musical dynamic. This also prevents the listener from getting physically tired, and it is the first trap that the unseasoned metal musician can fall into. Not so with these seasoned pros. Also of note is the exceptional versatility of the drummer Bruce Burgess who utilizes his percussion skills far beyond the basic kit arrangement, for example, at the start of “Nemesis” 7th Sign" breaks the program up by introducing an acoustic guitar and mandolin with a track that initially sounds like they’ve just opened a random page in a rhyming dictionary. Fortunately this is quickly rescued with a very soulful chorus. This song is quickly followed up with “Prey for me” (note the cheeky play on the spelling for pray) here we have a further onslaught of guitar and bass, and again, Bruce surprises us by introducing a set of congas in the middle eight before returning to the staple kit. “Feed the Furnace” is another outstanding track with its timing changes and rock solid bass line from Mr. Black. This is sonically flawless and Hoyle’s (now standard) harmonies augment the excellent lyrical presentation. The only downside to this track was the unexpected and very sudden fade which seemed to suggest that there was something at the end that they wanted to clip, which is a real shame. The next track “Swandiver” is a beautifully crafted atmospheric tune that actually reminded me of early Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. I could even hear a quick nod towards Robby Krieger (Doors) with Rhodes’ sublime guitar augmentation. The album is very tastefully rounded of with a return to the Phrygian mode and eastern instrumentation where it all started off.
Although the production is not by any means ground breaking, it is never the less appropriate for the genre and I got the feeling that the team of engineers and producer Cyrus Rhodes are all well versed with this new hard-hitting Seattle sound.
All in all this is an outstanding album with an enormous potential to project this band to the great heights that they truly deserve. Their show could easily win over and dominate the enormous metal scene in Germany and other parts of Europe where I am sure they would be received like Gods. Each song is extremely well crafted and executed, and whilst their developed style remains ever-present there is still enough variety to give the album its dynamic, colour and shape. There isn’t any particular element of the band, which stands out above the rest, and this means that the whole is definitely greater than the sum of the parts. If this band makes the right moves over the next few years, there is no doubt they will make their mark on the progress of their genre and carve their name in the annals of metal.