(By Kira Schlechter, Guest Contributor/Writer, RiffRelevant.com)
Funny that even with the pervasiveness of downloading, quick hits and instant gratification, the concept album seems to be flourishing. It certainly does in the hands of Seven Spires.
The Boston band’s debut album “Solveig,” independently released in August, is a story that the band’s bio describes as
“a lost soul and his journey through a demon’s sunless, neo-Victorian underworld.”
Whatever the tale, it’s an ambitious undertaking that the foursome – all Berklee College of Music grads — handle with aplomb.
Singer Adrienne Cowan has a potent, elastic, versatile voice, and boy, can she shred! Whether it’s a banshee wail, straight-out singing, or the guttural death-metal growl, she delivers it all. The story needs all her range to drive home the effect, and drive it home it does.
Guitarist Jack Kosto, bassist Peter Albert de Reyna, and drummer Chris Dovas provide the wickedly complex, theatrical soundtrack that’s heavily rooted in classical and Broadway music. It’s reminiscent of Nightwish, but not derivative.
After a few introductory lead-ins, the story really kicks off with the stylized, well, cabaret-like “The Cabaret Of Dreams.” Reminiscent of the “Cabaret” opening song, “Willkommen,” pairs Cowan’s shrilly shrieked, demonic-sounding chorus with sexily slurred verses, suitably hellish guttural vocals, and witty lines like “Let your sanity go, it ain’t yours to keep.” If Hell had a floor show, this would be the opening number.
The sinister “Choices” embodies the temptation process, while the soaring, aching, despairing “Closure,” with its downward-spiraling ending, is the decision made, the descent undertaken. Cowan’s voice is gorgeous and mournful in “100 Days,” a track that perhaps serves as the character’s purgatory.
“Stay” is the demon’s last-ditch effort to claim his soul — he is getting desperate to make the sale, and the music follows suit. It does so with the beauty of the lush guitar and keyboards juxtaposed with the horror of the tense, terse drumming and sinister vocals.
“The Paradox” may be the lost soul regretting his decision, that eternal peace is not so easily gained (as Cowan reminds, “There is no afterlife/Only this”). So the story continues, the back and forth of the lost soul; the demon trying to hold on to his catch for eternity.
By “Distant Lights” and the lengthy follow-up, “Burn,” the lost soul, in looking back on his life, has made up his mind…you’ll have to listen to find out his decision.
It’s a long album, but the songs are fairly short and direct – they are more images and brief scenarios than long chapters, and they can be taken as separate entities without losing the integrity of the story.
Kira spent 11 years at the Associated Press in Philadelphia, and another 11 at the Harrisburg Patriot-News covering music, specifically and frequently heavy metal. She’s been writing about and listening to metal since she was 15. Currently she also freelances for the Reading Eagle newspaper; in the past, she has freelanced for RIP, The World Of Hibernia, and Mademoiselle.