|Musical Style: Power/Progressive Metal||Produced By: Markus Sigfridsson|
|Record Label: Liljegren||Country Of Origin: Sweden|
|Year Released: 2010||Artist Website: 7 Days|
|Tracks: 11||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 67:49|
Markus Sigfridsson ranks with the more prolific songwriters in today’s metal scene. If in doubt then check out his resume, which includes lead songwriting roles in his two full time bands, Harmony, debuting with Dreaming Awake in 2003 prior to putting out Chapter II: Aftermath five years later, and Darkwater, getting started with Calling The Earth To Witness from 2007 but following up with Where Stories End in 2010. He is also credited with two full length albums with his side project 7 Days, The Weight Of The World (2006) and Into Forever (2010).
Whereas Harmony strays towards melodic metal with power metal tendencies and Darkwater melodic progressive metal, 7 Days strikes a balance by combining the best elements of the two: Catchy melody structures and occasional elements of the epic and symphonic are merged with frequent instrumental excursions and a penchant for technical time changes. It all adds up to the hybrid of the power and progressive that is 7 Days.
Specifically, 7 Days can trace its beginnings to the material in Sigfridsson’s possession that did not fit the mold of either band. As a result, he recruited the rhythm section of Andreas Passmark (Narnia) and drummer Daniel Flores (Mind’s Eye) prior to joining forces with vocalist Thomas Vikstrom (Mehida) and entering the studio to record The Weight Of The World. In order to maintain continuity, the same line up was used on Into Forever. The only difference this time around is the use of several guest co-lead vocalists, including Caroline Sigfridsson, Christian Liljegren (Golden Resurrection, Audiovision) and Erik Tordsson.
If you enjoy The Weight Of The World, or any band that combines aspects of power and progressive metal (not just Harmony and Darkwater but also Narnia, Balance Of Power, Majestic Vanguard, Theocracy and Sacred Warrior), then Into Forever comes with a strong recommendation. If anything, Into Forever features a bit more progressive elements when compared to the debut. This is best reflected in the albums two epics, “The Innocence In Me” (9:10) and “Final Wisdom” (19:40), in addition to the intricacies of “Into Forever” and “What Matters”. In between, you will find a couple of fast paced tracks in “You Hold The Key” (a real heavy hitter) and “Enter A Dream” (ton of double bass on this one) along with a couple more heading in a slower direction, “Scattered Mind” (almost a ballad feel here) and “We Cry No More” (quite the poignant piece).
Similar to The Weight Of The World, Into Forever plays to the 7 Days strength in the area of musicianship. It all starts with Markus Sigfridsson, who takes ample opportunity to display his technical and at times dramatic soloing abilities (the likes of “Into Forever” and “Final Wisdom”, with their extended instrumental passages, allow him to exhibit his talents best). I find the guy to be vastly underrated, and feel he deserves to be placed in the same category as fellow Swede Carl Johan Grimmark (Narnia) in terms of ability (no, not quite as fast or flashy but bringing the same level of emotion and feeling in terms of his playing nonetheless).
Keyboards are done to perfection. While Sidgridsson handles things from an accenting standpoint - touching up and highlighting the backdrop - Kaspar Dalkvist, who also made his mark on The Weight Of The World, provides all keyboard solos- and very well at that! In particular, I enjoy the creative lead guitar and keyboard duels between the two throughout the projects numerous instrumental moments (check out the albums title track to understand my point).
The decision to employ four vocalists as opposed to one lends an extra diverse element to Into Forever. Continuing to stand out is Thomas Vikstrom, who brings a style I described in my The Weight Of The World review as “clean and smooth sounding but temperate at the same time”. The same holds true here, although Into Forever finds him singing with even greater confidence and emotion. Rounding things out, and lending a lighter – almost angelic –touch, is Caroline Sigfridsson. The duel male-female lead vocal approach works in that the majority of the songs here find the two trading off (one handles the verses and other the chorus, etc). 7 Days reminds me somewhat of Random Eyes on its first album, albeit done a bit better. Christian Liljegren (mid-ranged approach) and Erik Tordsson (smoother backing presence) lend their talents as well.
Packaging and production are up to the high Liljegren Records standards. Production comes across particularly clean with an exquisite blend of guitars and keyboards (reminds me somewhat of the new Darkwater).
Things get underway to “Through Dark And Light”, a short (1:32) keyboard based instrumental.
The albums title track presents with its share of variety, transitioning between staunchly done verses - the rhythm guitar plays quite the pronounced role here - and a melodic based chorus in which the smoother statement is made. Otherwise, we are treated to a lead vocal interchange between Vikstrom and Caroline Sigfridsson along with an instrumental stretch carried by keyboard and guitar solos. Lyric snippet:
From my fate
I cannot flee
Through dark and light
I’ve always strayed
Oh, it has been said
The truth shall set you free
But we lie and we pray
Into the dark we flee
“The Innocence In Me” brings nine minutes of progressiveness. The first three take the faster and more aggressive heading with pounding drums and orchestration making their presence felt. Things settle down for the next three, as a slower tempo is maintained but mixed with symphonic elements and a sweeping instrumental run. The final three feature a combination of both, with things starting expeditiously only to taper to huge choir-like backing vocals and quietly played guitar at the end. Lyric snippet:
Now let me fall through time
Let me fall through sorrow
Now let me fall
Where no one can hear my call
Away from pain and greed
Away from hate and sin
Now let me fall one step
For every tear I’ve cried
A forward guitar mix characterizes the up-tempo “You Hold The Key”. Quite the lively piece, this one sets an enduring clip in racing its distance while allowing for several generous instrumental moments (at the start and halfway point). Vikstrom takes a lead vocal role with Caroline Sigridsson filling the gaps. Lyric snippet:
We hold the key to every door
And at the end
Will we see that there was so much more?
You hold the key
To open all doors…
“Enter A Dream” also establishes quite the romping pace. The song kicks in at once in full fury, almost approaching speed metal territory only to slacken somewhat for its verses but revisiting the furious momentum upon obtaining a double bass driven chorus. I can see Harmony doing something like this. Lyric snippet:
The scale of balance
Will never be even
Justice was never there
Like in an illusion
We play truth or dare
Winning is all
In the eyes of the world
An acoustic guitar carries minute long instrumental “Crossing” its distance.
“We Cry No More” showcases the more bottom heavy and mid-paced sound- at least in comparison to those preceding it. Standing out is Vikstrom’s moving vocal performance, particularly for the songs emotionally charged chorus. A forward but complementary keyboard mix only adds to the pristine setting. Lyric snippet:
In time’s of need
You always run and hide
Into your creed
You never will be free
No, you will never be saved by your deeds
No, we cry no more
No, we stray no more
No more wasted tears
As “We Cry No More” ends, “Under The Sun” fades in to more upfront keyboards. Drums soon kick in followed by rhythm guitar and we are off, rollicking piano and orchestral keyboards leading the way until Christian Liljegren and Vikstrom take over for the songs staunch verse portions. Caroline Sigfridsson adds a lighter touch for a briefly done chorus in which a forthright statement is made:
I accept that some things
Under the sun
Are not meant to be understood
This might be one of the shorter pieces here but proves no less able. Lyric snippet:
Why do we feed on sin?
Ashes to ashes
And dust to dust
A human kind
Destined to find
“Scattered Mind”, by far the albums slowest, starts to vocal harmonies that give way to a quietly played guitar. A muscular rhythm guitar then takes over, the heavy duty setting preserved as the song gradually makes its way to a resounding chorus giving rise to a near choir-like feel. Ringing bells and more low-key guitars uphold a lengthy instrumental stretch. Lyric snippet:
What brings them the right
To tell us what is wrong
What brings them the right
To be offended by those words
You’re casting your pearls before the swine
Where do you find
Time and the strength to pull it through
The nineteen minute “Final Wisdom” represents the pinnacle of Markus Sigfridsson’s songwriting skills. Without going into too much detail, “Final Wisdom” highlights its share of diversity, ranging from up-tempo moments carried by racing lead guitar, symphonic based mid-paced excursions and slower passages heading in a stiller direction. Several extended instrumental moments can also be found along with an epic flavored chorus that serves to tie everything together. Overall, the feeling left is of one cohesive song as opposed to several shorter ones “strung together” (as some progressive artists are known for doing). Lyric snippet:
The light is fading
A dark desire
And with it my faith
Like raging fire
Storms and disasters will come my way
But I will never give up
On the path that I aim
Closer “What Matters” isn’t bad but almost comes across anti-climatic in following “Final Wisdom”. In being sustained by a pronounced bass line, the song drives through unflinching verses sustained by rapid double bass and a sublime chorus in which momentum tapers exponentially. Lyric snippet:
Angel of sorrow
My lonely ghost of grief
Your pain I borrow
You bring me no relief
What matters in the end?
My faith or what is true?
Into Forever adds up to another solid work from Sweden’s 7 Days. It never fails to amaze me how much quality material Markus Sigfridsson is able to come up with- keeping in mind this is the sixth full length album he has played a songwriting role in since 2003. His guitar abilities only reinforce his versatility as a musician. But the project isn’t just Sigfridsson in that the decision to go with four vocalists adds further depth to the project. Strongly recommended.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Through Dark And Light” (1:32), “Into Forever” (6:29), “The Innocence In Me” (9:10), “You Hold The Key” (4:32), “Enter A Dream” (5:27), “Crossing” (:51), “We Cry No More” (4:12), “Under The Sun” (4:24), “Scattered Mind” (6:03), “Final Wisdom” (19:40), “What Matters” (5:28)
Thomas Vikstrom – Lead Vocals
Christian Liljegren – Lead Vocals
Caroline Sigfridsson – Lead Vocals
Erik Tordsson – Lead & Backing Vocals
Markus Sigfridsson – Guitars, Keyboards/Programming & Bass
Kaspar Dalkvist – Keyboard Solos
Andreas Passmark- Bass
Daniel Flores - Drums