Jack is back! So is James! It’s been about 3.5 years since the poorly received DEADLY SINS album back in late 2007. Tecchio is gone and Jack seems to have corrected the few problems that some fans felt existed on the last pair of albums.
CALL UPON THE WICKED is the bands eighth record in just over 10 years, so they are still hanging in there, produced top caliber classic Metal. The album gives up 9 straight up tracks for about 45 minutes and tacks on another three live bonus tracks, songs from various other albums. The sound is a bit rough but that is part of the charm of bonus tracks, especially fan favorite ‘Metal Asylum’.
The most obvious change is of course the return of James Rivera. I will say that vocally he does not quite hit the heights or intensity of the last Helstar album, but SEVEN WITCHES is not quite the vehicle for that style of performance. He still has the range and power that puts most other vocalist to shame. I don’t think there has been two Seven Witches albums with the same line-up so it will come as no shock that there is a new rhythm section consisting of Mike LePond (Symphony X) and Taz Marraz (which I sincerely doubt is his real name!) The album is a bit more diverse but still heavy all the way. Jack is always been top notch and I think he is under-appreciated, not necessarily under-rated, but he doesn’t always get the instant name-recognition he deserves. His soloing on this work is as good or better than anything he has done.
CALL UPON THE WICKED is, as I mentioned, straight-up classic American Metal. ‘Harlot of Troy’ is likely my favorite track, heavy, fast with a straight-forward chugging sound. Jack tries his hand at a bit more of a longer progressive piece, the slower, nine-minute piece ‘End Of Days’ with longer intro, bridge segments and acoustic parts. It’s back to basics but with enough song-writing flair to keep things interesting. Seven Witches keeps the \’cover tune per album\’ tradition alive by doing a Cream cut this time around, it’s about as close to the origins of pure Metal as you could want. Some of the preliminary hype from the label says it’s his best album…it just might be.
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