Seventh Wonder – Tiara (Frontiers Records)Tuesday, 23rd October 2018
Jumping on a prime opportunity when Kamelot needed a new vocalist, Seventh Wonder has been picking spots in terms of festival appearances and a live Welcome to Atlanta CD/DVD release in the prolonged interim between singer Tommy Karevik’s activities for the higher profile/in demand band. Thus it’s understandable why this fifth studio record Tiara has placed the quintet in a holding pattern, eight years since their last original release in The Great Escape. A concept record that has sci-fi, fantasy, and reality elements all layered together, the progressive metal unit are not at a loss for creative context, delivering an intriguing and captivating effort that should satiate the faithful and hopefully gain a healthy new contingency to the fold.
Robotic voices and background female supplementation provide necessary dynamics to advance the storyline – even through challenging instrumental sequences and a boatload of impressive musicianship. Key to the quintet’s ability to retain interest is their knowledge of structuring impressive hooks or melodic sequences on both vocal and musical fronts that make “Dream Machines” and the energetic “By the Light of the Funeral Pyres” easy favorites – the bass/keyboard spotlights in the latter as enticing as the natural bouncy back and forth action between the vocals and music in uplifting power/progressive splendor. Tommy may be within certain parameters in the Kamelot style, but within Seventh Wonder he clearly lets loose for all aspects of his expressive, multi-octave delivery. Showcasing his restraint on a somber effort such as “The Truth”, he rears back to his higher falsetto activity in “Tiara’s Song (Farewell Part 1)” and continues to amaze and astound through strength and potency that he is revered and respected for his abilities. The material doesn’t feel as long-winded as the nearly 70-minute album time frame that elapses – probably due to the heightened attention to dynamic sequencing and pacing, even as the longest cut “Exhale” at nine and a half minutes percolates between vivid progressive action and tight time signature switch-offs, taking on the Dream Theater/ Symphony X duality with some European finesse and charm.
Considering we have a little more wait for the next Symphony X record – and who knows what Dream Theater will spit out next – Tiara is likely the progressive metal album more fans of the genre should latch onto if you dig the ‘traditional’ style that put these bands on the map in the early to mid-1990’s.