|Musical Style: Progressive/Power Metal||Produced By: Markus Sigfridsson|
|Record Label: Rivel||Country Of Origin: Sweden|
|Year Released: 2006||Artist Website: 7 Days|
|Tracks: 9||Rating: 90%|
|Running Time: 55:04|
7 Days started as a project back in 2004 when guitarist Markus Sigfridsson discovered that he had a wealth of quality material that did not fit the mold of his other bands Harmony and Darkwater. Initially recruiting current Narnia and former Harmony bassist Andreas Olsson, Markus later brought in a drummer by the name of Daniel Flores (Mind’s Eye) at Olsson’s recommendation. Once Flores had completed his drum tracks in 2005, the band rounded out its line up when Christian Rivel (Narnia, Divinefire) introduced Markus to vocalist Thomas Vikstrom (Stormwind, Candlemass). Later signing to Rivel Records, 7 Days released its full length debut The Weight Of The World in the summer of 2006.
With Sigfridsson composing all of the music and lyrics on The Weight Of The World, it is only natural that 7 Days would reflect a “Harmony-like feel”. And without a doubt the influence of Harmony can be felt here, particularly in the songs catchy melody structures and the bands frequent excursions into sweeping instrumental section territory, but that would only be telling part of the story. 7 Days, if anything, comes across heavier and more progressive in comparison to Harmony all the while reflecting added symphonic and epic touches as well. This is best showcased on the guitar driven momentum found on “Save Me” and “The Weight Of The World” in addition to the creativity and instrumental prowess characteristic to progressive metal numbers such as “Redeemer”, “Confession” and “Where Are You”. The bands versatility, at the same time, can be found on the faster and more upbeat “With You Forever” and the cover of the Veni Domine classic “Wisdom Calls” (from the 1992 effort Fall Babylon Fall). In the end, if you are a fan of bands combining elements of power and progressive metal such as Balance Of Power, Magnitude 9, Majestic Vanguard, Narnia and Theocracy then 7 Days comes with the highest recommendation.
The Weight Of The World allows Sigfridsson to put his creative genius on full display, decorating the full length of the album with a more than adequate amount of upfront rhythm guitar while cutting loose with lead guitar work that is of a very skillful variety. If I were to invite a comparison to Sigfridsson’s fluid style if might be Narnia guitarist Carl Johan Grimmark. Yes, he is that good. Undoubtedly, it is Sigfridsson’s influence that allows for the band to exhibit its abundant musicianship throughout the albums numerous extensive instrumental sections, a penchant best demonstrated on “Redeemer”, “Confession”, “The Darkest Winter”, “The Weight Of The World” and others. Thomas Vikstrom complements the high quality of the material here in putting forth quite the strong showing with a vocal style that is clean and smooth sounding but temperate at the same time. Andreas Olsson and Daniel Flores comprise a tight and steady rhythm section. Please note that while Sigfridsson also fills in on keyboards, Kaspar Dahlqvist (Stormwind, Dionysus) handles the albums keyboard solos. First and foremost, the keyboard work of the two is skillflully done but it can come across laid on a bit thick in places. For example, out of the nine compositions here, seven begin with keyboard based introductions, while the keyboards are brought directly to the front of the mix during the instrumental sections of several tracks when they might have been better off highlighting the background.
Production values are of a polished and professional sounding variety allowing for all the instrumentation to evenly stand out in the mix.
It is also worth giving Rivel Records credit for the high quality of the albums packaging. From the somber feel to the white and black album artwork to the mini booklet with easy to read lyrics and liner notes, everything was done to perfection.
The sweeping keyboards at the start of “Redeemer” give way to a length stretch of forward rhythm guitar that gradually builds in momentum. Maintaining the guitar driven initiative throughout its first verse, “Redeemer” briefly pauses prior to moving on to an infectious chorus backed by vocal harmonies that almost come across Stryper-like in capacity. A lead guitar and keyboard trade off helps shore up an extensive instrumental section. “Redeemer” is aptly named:
Will You return to me
Redeemer of all life
Embrace me now and take me home
Will You answer me
Redeemer of all life
Reach to us Your nailed scarred hands
An all around solid progressive metal album opener that cannot help but bring to mind Balance Of Power at its best.
“Confession” also begins to a keyboard based introduction only to make an abrupt time change when a swell of crashing rhythm guitar takes over the mix. The song proceeds to storm through its first and second verse at an upbeat tempo, resonating a sublime feel upon reaching its pleading pre-chorus prior to breaking out in catchy fashion for a chorus with a huge hook that will pull you in and refuse to let go. An instrumental section showcasing some of the albums best lead guitar work closes out the songs final minute. The lyrics here, at the same time, are nothing less than inspired:
Please ease my mind
Please wipe away these tears
Oh, be my guide and make me understand Your ways
Oh, be my guide and take me to the way that You have made
How can I make You stay
Is there a way to feed this fire
When will it go away
Will it always haunt my mind
The level of creativity displayed is jaw dropping and helps make “Confession” rank among the finest compositions I have heard this year.
A keyboard solo opens “The Darkest Winter” before the rhythm guitar steps forward, the song slowly advancing through its first minute in a dark and near haunting manner that almost comes across doom-like in feel. Tapering off even further upon reaching its first verse, “The Darkest Winter” quietly moves ahead until a huge choir of vocal harmonies precedes a sweeping chorus that reflects the thoughts of a tortured soul crying out for help:
Help me find a way out
Don’t let it get to me
It haunts my every move
There’s so much life in me
Don’t let me die
A minute and a half long instrumental section is carried by a near perfect blend of rhythm guitar and keyboards until Markus cuts loose with an ardent guitar solo buttressed by rapid double bass.
“Fall Again” features a duet between Thomas Vikstrom and Caroline Sigfridsson. Slowly and steadily advancing to a forward wall of rhythm guitar, the song decelerates as Thomas and Caroline trade vocal lines during its first verse before singing upon reaching the melodic flavored chorus that follows. The keyboard solo decorating a two minute instrumental section, on the other hand, is laid on a bit thick for my taste. It would have been better if Markus had led the entire way here. “Fall Again” is a song of comfort:
I walk in the light of a Saviour
And my heart is pure (the) truth is burning within me
I confess in the blood of remission
Unrighteousness is leaving me again
Oh, yes I will fall again
But I will never fear this darkness
Oh, cause You are my tourniquet
And in Your name I’ll pierce the darkness
The minute and a half long instrumental section introducing “Where Are You” is fortified by an even blend of rhythm guitar and keyboards. Thomas adds an element of grit to his vocal delivery as the song moves through its first verse, the pace not picking up until a touch of double bass steps forward and leads the way to an emotionally charged chorus giving rise to a deep and profound ambience. Markus’ lead guitar work is allowed to stand out cleanly in the mix throughout the songs second instrumental section. Choir-like vocal harmonies close out the fine minute of a song also reflecting the thought of a soul crying out for help:
Where are You?
Where are You now?
Leaving me be
Your reign I can’t see
Where are You?
Where are You now?
Forgive me this once
But I cannot see
But it offers a message of hope as well:
If I dwell the depths of the sea
Your light would still reach me
“The Weight Of The World” gets underway to an extensive instrumental section that opens in a symphonic manner prior to moving forward at a guitar driven upbeat tempo. After a profusion of angst laden rhythm guitar urges the song through its first and second verse, the rhythm guitar takes a backseat in the mix upon reaching its epic-flavored pre-chorus. The rhythm guitar returns with a fury of driving momentum, however, in time to bolster a resounding chorus with a great catchy hook. Markus bolsters another sweeping instrumental section with his shredding leads. It does not get much heavier than this.
The introduction to “Save Me” slowly moves forward to a quietly played guitar line before the rhythm guitar takes over at the start of its first verse, leading the way with just the right amount of infectious impetus to an energetic chorus delivered in overriding and determined fashion. The album hits its high water mark as the song transitions to a rollicking, guitar driven two and a half minute instrumental section. “Save Me” is a song of faith:
For thousands of years
We fear the old
The ancient dragon
When darkness falls
All over me again
I will be there
I won’t deny His name
“With You Forever” is one of the albums faster and more upbeat tracks. The song takes off to a quickly moving blend of bass guitar and keyboards prior to kicking into high gear as a choppy riff forces its way to an upfront place in the mix. Tapering off slightly upon reaching its first verse, “With You Forever” regains its lost momentum as it reaches a romping chorus shored up by a literal storm of driving rhythm guitar.
The album closes with a very well done cover of Veni Domine’s “Wisdom Calls” (from the bands 1992 debut Fall Babylon Fall). While the Veni Domine version reflects a more doom-like and progressive metal feel, 7 Days has effectively accentuated the song with its signature smooth sounding and melodic flavored touch. And it works. Yes, the 7 Days rendering looses some of the more ominous and dramatic elements characteristic to the original but still showcases the same creative flavorings and catchy chorus. A fitting end to what is an all around solid debut from quite the talented band.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Redeemer” (7:25), “Confession” (5:58), “The Darkest Winter” (5:42), “Fall Again” (5:11), “Where Are You” (6:23), “The Weight Of The World” (5:47), “Save Me” (7:05), “With You Forever” (4:18), “Wisdom Calls” (7:12)
Thomas Vikstrom – Lead Vocals
Markus Sigfridsson – Guitars, Keyboards & Programming
Andreas Olsson – Bass
Daniel Flores – Drums
Kaspar Dahlqvist – keyboards