Seven Witches – The Way of the Wicked (The ILS Group)

Sunday, 13th September 2015
Rating: 7.5/10

The tenth studio album from New Jersey’s Seven Witches happens to be the second consecutive release retaining the same lineup in quite a while. Transforming themselves from a straight traditional metal outfit in the Bobby Lucas era to incorporating more of a gritty, doomier meets classic 70’s feel today – guitarist Jack Frost believes that tasteful songwriting and channeling emotional context matters most.

Picking up where 2013’s Rebirth left off, there seems to be an added emphasis on solid, bluesy-oriented riffing and equal importance for the rhythm section of bassist Ronnie Parkes and drummer Johnny Kelly to hammer home the groove for total hook/melody captivation. Remember the days when US artists were taking a page from the British scene to develop their own take for 80’s heavy metal? It’s clear to hear on “Among Us” and the more commercial-leaning “Dreams” that everything from Metal Church and Malice to a nod of the heydays of Led Zeppelin and Randy Rhoads inspired Ozzy come into the picture from riff pieces to arrangement pacing and chorus construction.

Jack Frost never claims to be in the Yngwie-arpeggio/shred class when it comes to lead breaks – and there’s something to be said for tastefully using build ups and sparse instrumental note choices. He can certain tap and take your head on a metal roller coaster (insert “Without Man” here), yet he refers to come from an honest, whatever it takes for the sake of the song mentality that pays dividends for “Angel of Salvation”- especially in the losing minimalist guitar refrain. Add in Anthony Cross’ more natural register (think John Bush/Ray Gillen instead of pure Dickinson/Halford) and a production that emphasizes this rawness and you have a band unafraid to let what they feel come out of their brains, hands, and hearts.

Consistent for sure – it’s hard to top their debut Second War in Heaven from back in the late 1990’s, but The Way of the Wicked has a lot of redeeming songs for those who want their metal a little bluesy, dark at times, and surely heavy.

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