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Seven Spires - Gods of Debauchery Award winner

Seven Spires
Gods of Debauchery
by Kevin Lewis at 11 October 2021, 7:49 AM

SEVEN SPIRES is a four-piece band from Boston, Massachusetts, United States. Formed in 2013, they released their first epic tale, Solveig, in 2017. Emerald Seas followed in 2020. Their latest release, “Gods of Debauchery,” is the third piece of the trilogy of concept albums. Placed in order, “Emerald Seas” is first in the story, released second. Solveig was released first, but second in order, and “Gods of Debauchery” is the third act. It was released on September 10, 2021 via Frontiers Music SRL.

Combining elements of symphonic, power, progressive, black, cinematic and death metal, it is a huge project that is executed with a skill few bands can match. This is an epic journey told in 16 songs. Yes, this deserves to get the whole treatment; records, graphic novels, and movie/play. You know these records are all tied together because the musical phrases cross over and the lyrics refer to the same characters. All three records have an opening that is tied to the ending, closing that chapter, but each record also overlaps into each other, creating an overarching theme.

This interplay between records is not often seen, and even more rarely done this well. Few bands can take a story and make it this compelling across multiple records. The growth this band has exhibited from record one to record three is incredible. This record has a massive backing with keyboards, strings, wind instruments and multiple layers of vocals. It is big, it is epic and it is amazing.

The record opens with the mood setting intro, “Wanderer’s Prayer.” The four lines are almost spoken word, the tones are ethereal, and the lines are repeated throughout the record. They are spoken, screamed, sung and growled. This is a primary theme that spans the entire album, taking the listener on a journey from start to finish.

The next song, the title track, starts slow. The song starts with chants from a choir, Chris Dovas plays a rhythm on drums as the song builds up, Jack Kosto begins the riff and plays a soaring guitar solo, keyboards come filtering in, then Peter de Reyna has a bass solo. Finally, Adrienne Cowan comes in with absolute fury. The vocals are harsh and fast, clearly enunciated and epic! She has also developed a better range within her growls. The tempo shifts are awesome and the fact the bass plays like a second guitar really makes me happy. It adds a lot of depth to the song.

The Cursed Muse” is next. More complex, fast drumming, more growls, more ripping guitar and bass. The keyboards come in much higher in tone and contrast beautifully with the main riff. Adrienne goes clean with the vocals, adding distortion when and where she wants. The guitar solo is spectacular.

The next few songs are lighter in tone. They have more clean vocals and tend towards the melodic end of the SEVEN SPIRES repertoire. “Ghost Of Yesterday” has an Arabesque feel in some sections. The bass leads are a nice touch, especially when Peter goes to the higher with a quick fill at the end of his section. The solo absolutely shreds. “Lightbringer” is a variable song with both quick and slower areas. They play off each other well, shifting effortlessly from one to the other.

Echoes Of Eternity” has a killer opening, full of drums, keys and wind instruments. The guitar and bass are both very present when needed, subdued when appropriate. The layered vocals, clean and clear, are more ethereal with less distortion. “Shadow On an Endless Sea” begins slow. Ambient vocalizations, sound effects and keys lull you into a false sense of peace before the blast beats and frenetic rhythm kick in. The bass lead is eloquent and a perfect lead in to the guitar work heard early. The vocals go harsh to clean and back and the orchestration is well placed.

Dare To Live” has more guitar wizardry with the quick fills. The drums range from rapid-fire to mid-tempo. The keys provide ambience. Melodic to hardcore, the song is a wild ride. “In Sickness, In Health” starts with piano and strings, mellow vocals and subdued bass lines. Then, it rises up and becomes… bigger. Again, the interplay of the instruments on these songs is precise and grand. The layered vocals with the fry over the clean highlight the depth and breadth of the musical genius that is SEVEN SPIRES.

Now, we get to “This God Is Dead.” The song features Roy Khan (ex-KAMELOT, CONCEPTION) as a guest vocalist. The intro is peaceful. Choirs and strings, layers of vocals and a shift into melodic, that then goes more power/symphonic metal. We haven’t even heard the main section yet. Adrienne goes full head voice and does some belting as well. Roy is stable and solid. Oh, and the band matches them note for note.

Oceans Of Time” is a galloping song that features another de Reyna bass fill in the middle of a lead line over the guitar riff. “The Unforgotten Name” features Jon Pyres. He and Adrienne sing together, growl together and harmonize in both ranges, creating absolute beauty. The guitar work is exquisite.

Continuing on, “Gods Amongst Men” is a mix of clean and harsh vocals, bass lead lines, crunchy guitar riffs and soaring keyboard tones. The outro is calm and a complete change from the rest of the song. Nothing but vocals, keys and drums, it drops out quietly. Then, “Dreamchaser” comes in with a similar tone except the voice is harsh with some higher pitched vocal intonations underneath. Blast beats and heavy keys dominate most of this song.

The most epic song on the record is next. Four minutes long with very few words, “Through Lifetimes” is mostly instrumental, but the reason the song is so epic is that it refers back to both Emerald Seas and Solveig musically. You hear patterns from earlier in the record as well as from the previous two discs. This is the thread that ties all three together and wraps them up in a neat bow for the listener. Much of this record has a symphonic element, this song is pure symphonic mastery. This is the song that feels like it is bringing the hero home on a movie soundtrack.

The album closes with “Fall with Me.” Most of this song is straight ballad, making you hope for the happy ending. Towards the end, they go power ballad, ramping up the tempo and increasing the volume. The drums go crazy, the vocals get louder and the song gets more epic. The record fades with Adrienne trailing off gently.

Having followed every member of this band on some social media platforms for the past two years, I know they’ve been busy, even through the pandemic. Shows might have cancelled, but they all stayed busy. Jack Kosto developed a flair for engineering music from other bands. Chris Dovas wrote and recorded parts of a second solo record, Peter de Reyna played on numerous other records. Including “Aversed” and “Firewing”. Adrienne Cowan worked on her vocals with David Akesson as her coach.

They all also worked on parts of their mental and physical health. I think that actually shows in the overall sound of the record. This record doesn’t just sound good, it feels good. It is mixed and mastered well; the production is outstanding. Everything about this album is beautiful. The interaction of the instruments with each other, with the vocals, the vocal layering, they all work together in ways rarely heard.

They were all really good before this, but they all got better. The individual skill of each musician in this band is incredible, but the best part is this band is greater than the sum of its’ parts. The composition of the songs is amazing. Adrienne studied that at Berklee College of Music in Boston and put everything she learned into this trilogy of records, culminating with the masterpiece that is “Gods of Debauchery”. This is the most complete work I have heard in a long time. This record wins 2021.

Songwriting:  10
Musicianship:  10
Memorability:  10
Production:  10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Wanderer’s Prayer
2. Gods of Debauchery
3. The Cursed Muse
4. Ghost of Yesterday
5. Lightbringer
6. Echoes of Eternity
7. Shadow on An Endless Sea
8. Dare to Live
9. In Sickness, In Health
10. This God Is Dead
11. Oceans of Time
12. The Unforgotten Name
13. Gods Amongst Men
14. Dreamchaser
15. Through Lifetimes
16. Fall with Me
Lineup:
Adrienne Cowan – Vocals/Orchestration/Keyboards
Peter de Reyna – Bass (Electric/Upright)
Chris Dovas – Drums
Jack Kosto – Guitar (Electric/Acoustic)
Record Label: Frontiers Music SRL
     


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Edited 25 October 2021
 

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