I have been aware of the Boston based symphonic metal band Seven Spires for several years now. I remember seeing them in some small club in Rhode Island and thinking to myself “this is a band to watch out for”. Despite their young age (the band members were all in their late teens at the time), I was impressed by their incredible musicianship (the entire band are graduates of Berklee College of Music in Boston), their catchy songwriting, and their commanding stage presence, especially that of lead vocalist/frontwoman Adrienne Cowan. Cowan is nothing short of a revelation as a vocalist/performer. Her vocal style is a combination of former Kamelot singer Roy Khan, Alissa White-Gluz (formerly of The Agonist/ current Arch Enemy vocalist), and the black metal influences of Shagrath of Dimmu Borgir and Nergal from Behemoth. Cowan’s confidence and natural charisma make her a consummate, captivating performer despite her young age. This goes for the other members of the Seven Spires. Guitarist Jack Kosto (taught by renowned Holy Hell guitarist Joe Stump as well as Nitro guitarist Michael Angelo Batio) is a masterful guitar player with an amazing tone as well as writing some of the most tasteful guitar solos with a melodic sensibility that serves the song and never overplays for the sake of shredding similar to the style of Kamelot’s Thomas Youngblood. The rhythm section of bassist Peter de Reyna and drummer Chris Dovas are the perfect compliment to each other, playing with feel, groove, precision, and technicality.
After a long wait of several years, the bands long awaited full- length album Solveig is about to be unleashed on an unsuspecting metal world. The band ventured to Gate Studios in Wolfsburg, Germany to put the finishing touches to Solveig under the tutelege of famous producer/guitarist Sascha Paeth (Avantasia, Kamelot, Rhapsody), who has stated that Seven Spires is “one of the few new real personalities in metal”. For someone of Paeth’s stature in the metal world to give Spires his personal seal of approval is no small thing. The band has been sharing the stage with big names in the world of metal such as Epica, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Arch Enemy, Amaranthe and Apocalyptica – among many others over their short history.
Solveig tells the story of a lost soul and his journey through a Demon’s sunless neo-victorian underworld. Despite small glimmers of hope, it is a grim tale with a heavy focus on escapism, death and decadence. This is pretty intense and ambitious subject matter for a young bands first album to be sure. The bands love for romantic composers and epic film scores is the vision of “The Captain” Adrienne Cowan, who is a natural born leader and her vision is realized throughout Solveig’s hour long running length.
The album is a cinematic and theatrical journey with musical interludes, reprises and grandiose and bombastic symphonic orchestrations. Beginning with the haunting piano piece The Siren and leads into Encounter, an epic symphonic metal song with a melancholy vocal melody and a headbanging musical accompaniment. The next track, the fan favorite Cabaret of Dreams, is a metal anthem with a ridiculously catchy refrain that is perfect in a live environment and hearing it in all its symphonic glory on album brings the song to a whole other level mixing Cowan’s melodic range with her trademark high pitched screams and guttural growls that give the song a powerful punch to the gut.
The band shows a love for Roy Khan era of Kamelot (Karma, Epica, and Black Halo eras) as evidenced on the tracks Choices and Stay, but Spires simply utilizes these influences to pay homage as part of their overall presentation. Closure is a melodic track with a Middle-Eastern flair and de Rayna’s bass is presented upfront while Cowan’s delivery and theatrical background makes this a standout track. Cowan’s emotional melodic voice is on full display on the piano-led ballad 100 Days, a haunting and beautiful piece of music. The bands foray into the world of symphonic black metal is also represented on The Paradox and Serenity, where Cowan gets to exorcise her inner demons with a deep guttural growl from the depths of Hades itself. Like her soaring melodic voice, Cowan puts all of her heart and soul into her performance with the perfect balance of light and darkness.
Depths is a song with a melancholy and somber tone with it’s thumping bassline and clean guitar melodies. Cowan’s soft vocals are filled with emotion and filled with a raw power when the song builds with intensity. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Distant Lights is a magnificent uplifting fast paced power metal anthem with Kosto’s shredding guitar leads and Cowan’s bright and soaring melodic vocals are filled with positivity and brightness reaching for the stratosphere.
Burn is another heavy fast paced metal track with grandiose orchestrations and Cowan’s evil sounding growls trading off with her clean voice. Cowan’s upper register gets a workout here, showing what she is truly capable of and proving why she is one of my favorite vocalists in metal regardless of gender. Burn also contains a slyly veiled ode to the musical The Phantom of the Opera in a vocal melody line that is so well placed and slight, you may miss it if you don’t listen closely for it. Knowing Cowan’s penchant for theater its highly likely that this was a nod and a wink to her love for the theater.
Ashes is another song whose influence is again rooted in Khan era Kamelot with a guitar melody line that is reminiscent of Center of the Universe. This is another gem of a song where Cowan gets to showcase the melodic side of her vocals and is another crowd favorite when I have seen them perform over the years.
The albums final song, Reflections, is an orchestral reprise of each song on the album with symphonic bombast and a fitting end to Solveig’s journey. There are many bands in todays landscape who try to incorporate as many different metal genres into their music, most sounding like a cacophonous wall of noise, but Seven Spires pulls it off seamlessly which is all the more impressive considering their short history together. Mark my word; Seven Spires is a band that has great things in store for them. Solveig is in the running for my metal debut of the year.
Pre-order Solveig here