Released: 2014, Sonic Revolution
Copenhagen Denmark’s power metal sons, Seven Thorns, have released their second full length album aptly titled II. The band formed back in the late 90’s but did not release their debut album until 2010. The years were spent honing their considerable talents and studiously absorbing the many directions and trends of the power metal subgenre. Thus, there are many influences in the band’s sound like Royal Hunt and Labyrinth. However, DragonForce is clearly the band’s main inspiration on the first half of the album along with practically every power metal cliché ever committed to record. In keeping with the clichés then, consider that if imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, then DragonForce ought to feel practically worshipped.
You can hear for yourself though, as the expected and traditional under two minute instrumental intro that leads off virtually every power metal album is again executed here. Next comes “Eye of the Storm” adorned in full DragonForce glory. The only defining difference is in the vocals of Erik Blomkvist (who has since departed the band) which are lower in register and more earthy than many power metal vocalists. Other than that you have an abundance of neo-classical arpeggios performed at inhuman speeds, which at the end of the day amount to little more than endless ascending and descending runs through scales, more like a music lesson than a song and fairly predictable to boot. However, for all of their shameless aping of DragonForce there is no question that the technical musicianship in this band is spectacular, and while it might sound like I am really bashing Seven Thorns there is also plenty of memorable and upbeat songs on II.
The band begins to lean more towards Labyrinth and Royal Hunt as the album goes on, still speedy but not sounding like a video game soundtrack either. There is a change of pace on the band’s ballad “You’re Not Brave – If You’re Not Scared” which ventures into Virgin Steele territory. “A Joker’s Game” really brings everything together into a more restrained (relatively speaking) and cohesive song of traditional power metal that recalls the glory days of Hammerfall and Helloween. This is a direction that more of the album could have benefitted from exploring. The bonus track ends things with a power metal version of ABBA’s “Mama Mia”, a vast improvement on the original and a brave ending to what is ultimately a generic power metal album. Production wise, it all sounds clear and flawless, allowing one to discern the articulation in the fast guitar passages. Drums are a bit thin, but not that important, as this is unabashedly guitar-centric music.
Ultimately, my head tells me this is not that far removed from many power metal bands but my heart refuses to care, just not seeing a reason to add another band that sounds like so many others to my listening rotation. Obviously, Seven Thorns has huge potential and prodigious talent that just needs focus and their own personal stamp on the genre rather than everyone else’s. Recommended heartily for fans of DragonForce especially, as well as other neoclassical speedsters.