Seven Kingdoms – The Fire is Mine (Nightmare Records)

Tuesday, 26th March 2013
Rating: 8.5/10

The third full length album in the metal world separates the contenders from the pretenders. Listeners know if they want to virtually go ‘all in’ as if playing Texas Hold ‘Em Poker and invest their heart and soul in this band’s works or if they will be cast aside into the obscure distant dust pile of acts that tried to make a mark and failed. Florida power metal band Seven Kingdoms currently embody this situation with The Fire Is Mine, an 11 track, 53 minute record that comes off the cusp of their impressive self-titled second album from 2010.

It shouldn’t be a shock to the system then that guitarists Camden Cruz and Kevin Byrd come out of the gates firing Blind-Guardian like dual harmonies on “After the Fall,” the band gained the opportunity to tour North America in the fall of 2010 and that natural German knack for sweeping wah-wah like heroics fits their power template. Drummer Keith Byrd also plays with a sense of progressive meets power passion, comfortable with straightforward double bass numbers like “Flame of Olympus” where he showcases killer fill knowledge or uses more epic/traditional tempos a la Iron Maiden or Iced Earth for “In the Twisted Twilight.”

The beacon light for Seven Kingdoms continues to be the melodic, engaging and versatile vocals of Sabrina Valentine. Her voice has elements of symphonic, gothic and power singers- and yet she has this method to her phrasing and trailing notes that simply mesmerizes me with each and every successive pass. Take in the attacking nature of “Forever Brave” and the 7:50 closer “The King in the North” to understand her charm and professional grace that allows the musicians to continually slam home the hooks throughout.

There are plenty in the power metal world who love background choir vocals and punishing rhythms- with only a sparse use of keyboards and sound effects for textural accents. The Fire is Mine will be one of those records these fans hold in high regard, and should again help Seven Kingdoms climb up the metal map domestically and internationally. Given the demise of Jag Panzer and the average wait of a new Blind Guardian studio album at four years, Seven Kingdoms should benefit greatly, as their sound and songwriting warrant immediate attention.

Seven Kingdoms official site

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