Seven Kingdoms – Decennium (Self-Released)

Wednesday, 1st February 2017
Rating: 9.5/10

Fulfilling the promise of releasing their fourth full-length in the first quarter of the new year, Florida’s Seven Kingdoms continue to be a consummate power metal heavy hitter – striding valiantly into the hearts of metalheads worldwide. Decennium contains ten songs – eight fresh originals beyond the two previewed on last fall’s In the Walls EP effort. Beyond the immaculate production, mixing and mastering expertise spread out through North Avenue Studios, Morrisound Recording, and Hansen Studios– the stellar understanding of the genre at hand puts the quintet light years ahead of the game. Decennium features a bevy of twin guitar parts, penetrating riffs and rhythms, soaring melodies and choir embellishment, plus extra nuances to maintain interest from the first note to the final drum hit.

Taking equal inspiration from the European and North American landscapes allows Seven Kingdoms the opportunity to express their musical thoughts in a host of measures that keep the excitement and anticipation level on high. Opener “Stargazer” for instance features guitar runs akin to Unleash the Archers, the background choir work and distant effects adding color and shape for this engaging call to arms anthem. Wah-wah embellishment and smooth double bass drum parts for “The Tale of Deathface Ginny” bring the spirit of early 90’s Blind Guardian to the forefront, as singer Sabrina Valentine uses multiple octaves plus back and forth panning to illustrate the story in a haunting, captivating manner. The gallops within the mid-tempo “Castles in the Snow” offset the more straightforward, classic chord passages (think Raindow-period Dio here), another probable crowd pleaser as drummer Keith Byrd accents the proceedings with occasional nifty cymbal juggles and shifting speed/groove maneuvers. Bassist Aaron Sluss keeps up in unison to the high octane, driving guitar action from Camden Cruz and Kevin Byrd, making “Kingslayer” another favorite for those who love uplifting, Teutonic-oriented harmonies against some primal American precision.

Add in a breathtaking cover illustration that many who took part in the successful crowdfunding campaign will adorn (or post) in multiple forms and you have the first mandatory power metal record this year. Given the ups, downs, and turnaround for this long-standing genre, Seven Kingdoms blaze in accordance to shine brightly for the glory of all. Raise your goblets, adorn the battle vests, lift swords to the sky – Decennium delivers.

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