Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
7th Heaven - Planet Under Siege
   
Musical Style: Melodic Hard Rock Produced By: Rudy Battjes & 7th Heaven
Record Label: Retrospect Country Of Origin: USA
Year Released: 1992/2008 Artist Website:
Tracks: 10 Rating: 80%
Running Time: 44:28

7th Heaven - Planet Under Siege

The history of the Pacific Northwest Christian metal scene dates back to the mid-eighties.  Seattle, Washington based Bloodgood is the first act that comes to mind, one of the more well known and respected players in the burgeoning “white metal” scene at the time.  Detonation, Bloodgood’s sophomore release from 1987, is considered a classic while the self-titled debut (1986), Rock In A Hard Place (1988) and Out Of the Darkness (1989) are all essential releases.  Watchmen came from the same era and locality.  Hitting the scene with an eight song demo entitled Fear No Evil, the group signed with Regency Records prior to releasing its 1989 full length debut Generation.  Paragon, who might have been the best of the bunch (but that is another story), also came out of the Seattle area and brought a Rush influenced sound on its two demos, Just Believe and Dead And Alive, from the late eighties.

At this point we need to ask: what has Oregon produced?  Well, other than lots and lots of rain (not that Seattle is innocent in this area), the state known for the “Rose City” (Portland) and its breathtaking scenery is home to the classic metal band Saint.  Hailing from Salem (the State Capitol), Saint ranks with Bloodgood in terms of overall impact and longevity.  The group debuted with the 1984 EP Warriors Of The Son before recording the Pure Metal full length releases Time’s End (1986) and Too Late For Living (1988).  After going on extended hiatus, Saint returned following the turn of the century with In The Battle (2004), The Mark (2006) and Crime Scene Earth (2008).

This leaves us with only one other group from the region deserving mention, Portland, Oregon based 7th Heaven.  The band only produced one work: and that is its independently released 1992 full length offering Planet Under Siege.  Despite coming out in the early nineties, the album (mercifully) reflects no influence of the grunge scene prevalent at the time.  If anything, I might describe Planet Under Siege as a blend of melodic rock, AOR and hair metal – heavily influenced by the eighties – certain to appeal to fans of Stryper, Guardian, Shout, Giant, Action and Line Of Fire.

An out of print and hard to find collectors item for years, Planet Under Siege was re-issued the latter half of 2008 by Retrospect Records.

Planet Under Siege proves a musically consistent effort bringing a variety of mid-tempo and up-tempo tracks and ballads.  The albums current events inspired title track, creative “Child’s Eyes” and metal influenced “Cross The Border” and “Giants In The Land” move in a mid-paced heading while a faster direction is taken on energetic rockers “Shout” and “Get So Mad”.  Ballad wise, we have one that is acoustic laced (“Watching And Waiting”), one piano driven (“Stay”) and one-semi ballad (“Rapture”).   

Doug Basler brings a clean but raspy mid-ranged vocal style that hints at Jamie Rowe (Guardian) and Larry Worley (Fear Not).  Balsler also handles bass (laying down some heavy grooves in the process) and rounds out the rhythm section with drummer Brian Lawson (who puts in a spot-on performance).  Guitarist Dennis Bush proves every bit as much a talent.  He contributes the albums melodic based – and at times metal edged – riffs in addition to its quality lead work (as demonstrated on “Child’s Eyes”, “Cross The Border” and “Giants In the Land”).   

The albums clean production values allows all the instrumentation to stand out.  Yes, the rhythm guitar could have been beefed up a bit but the overall sound is solid for an early nineties independent release.

“Planet Under Siege” begins to a news report detailing the “end of civilization as we know it”, making referencing to the Middle East, starvation, corrupt politicians, drugs, earthquakes, floods, global warming, etc.  Sound familiar?  Musically, the albums title track represents a melodic hard rockers bringing a flowing mid-paced impetus and background vocal driven chorus (and quite the pronounced hook in the process).  Fast paced stretch of lead guitar.  Again, the “end of civilization as we know it” is the topic at hand:

Red light flashing to the battle stage
Calvary’s coming it’s the end of the age
Resurrection of the just and the unjust too
When your finger points out it points back at you

When the planet’s under siege
And you don’t know what it means

“Shout” moves in a more upbeat heading.  A punchy bass line sustains this one its distance, underscoring its energetic verse portions and driving chorus in which BIG backing vocals loudly “shout” the songs title.  Brian Lawson is right on target with his timekeeping skills.  “Shout” talks about taking a stand:

And all around it seems that we’re falling back
Still we se that it’s the signpost on the map

Shout, now’s the time we won’t take it standing by
Shout, with the news together we can never lose

“Watching And Waiting” is a classic power ballad.  The song proves equal parts acoustic and electric, slowly drifting through its low key verse prior to acquiring a melodic based chorus in which an unyielding rhythm guitar makes its presence felt.  “Watching And Waiting” can best be described as a song of faith:

When I’m in Your arms there’s no place I’d rather be
From that safe place I can always see eternity
Take it down easy, Lay it down slow
Did it my own way, got to let it go

Watching and waiting I know there’ll come a day
When all the watching and waiting will end

The album returns to its up-tempo ways with “Get So Mad”.  With its joining of polished vocal harmonies, edgy rhythm guitar and bluesy lead guitar, this one is just plain fun to listen to (it almost brings to mind Canada’s Daniel Band).  I particularly enjoy the aggressive feel to the songs verse portions and how a contrast is made with its smoothly flowing chorus.  “Get So Mad” is aptly entitled:

You know sometimes I get angry
When they say “You’ll never come back”
They tell me everything continues
And white has turned to black

I get so mad sometimes…

“Child’s Eyes” is one of the albums more creative pieces- there is so much going on here it is difficult to go into adequate detail.  Basically, the song grinds through its verses with Basler adding a low key touch to his delivery; upon reaching its refined chorus, however, he breaks out in his trademark melodic style.  An edgy stretch of soloing rounds out a number dealing with child abuse:

They’d have you believe that an innocent face
Can never tell lies, not a thing’s out of place
Some treat them like toys for their perverted use
God never intended them for such abuse

Don’t hide those lies behind a child’s eyes…

Driving hard rocker “Cross The Border’ kicks into a drum solo before plowing ahead to a snarling rhythm guitar, the tempestuous scene upheld until a chorus backed by huge Stryper-like backing vocals is obtained.  Dennis Bush pulls out all the stops with his blazing soloing abilities.  “Cross The Border” encourages its listeners to run the race to win:

Life’s so long and you’re so wrong
So many ways, so much wrong
Take small steps on a single stride
Now we’ve met there’s no place to hide
I don’t care what people say
It’s not in my mind
I won’t turn and run away when the pressure’s on

“Rapture” heads in semi-ballad territory.  Starting calmly with keyboards decorating the backdrop, the song sustains the tepid setting as it flows through its first verse.  Momentum does not pick up until the rhythm guitar makes its presence felt as “Rapture” acquires its lively chorus.  Lyrically, “Rapture” is self explanatory:

Saw the earth below me
Saw the Heaven’s above
Saw Your arms there to hold me
Saw Your eyes filled with love

Then I felt the thunder
Saw the lightning too
From the east to the west
I’ll fly away with You
When I felt Your rapture

Delivering a mid-paced brand of metal, “Giants In The Land” merges an edgy rhythm guitar with the bands trademark refined backing vocals and enticing lead guitar.  The songs resounding chorus aligns itself with the laid back – but forthright – scene.  The same can be said for the lyrics:

Giants in the land standing tall
Broken
Defeated giants will fall
Like a wave rolling across the water
Building speed affront the gale
Nothing will stop this endless onslaught
Against the rock but to no avail

Armed with a stone and sling
Marching around the all
Seven days of trial and trouble
Seven days till we win it all

More hard rocking muscle is found on “Daybreak”.  With its gritty guitar work and atmospheric traces of keyboards, the song showcases the near perfect mix.  The low end, at the same time, is quite pronounced- I particularly enjoy how the bass guitar stands out in the mix.  The end result is a near touch of the blues.  “Daybreak” deals with the second coming:

The secrets shouted
Shouted from the rooftops
Leave it all right there
Two sleeping
One will be taken
One will remain
Don’t look back when the day is dawning
Meet Him at the train

The 70’s tinged keyboards at the start of the ballad “Stay” soon give way to a piano.  Continuing to leisurely drift forward, the song does not pick up the pace until the rhythm guitar takes over and leads the way to a brief but poignantly charged chorus.  A cameo appearance is later made by the piano while an elegant guitar solo adds the final touch.  “Stay” brings a comforting message:

Don’t you know your life has meaning
And I’ll see you through
The time has come to fight the feeling
His light can shine for you

While 7th Heaven might not have delivered anything groundbreaking on Planet Under Siege, it is always good to hear music of this capacity when it is well performed.  And such is the case here.  I enjoy the bands catchy melding of melodic hard rock and AOR; there is not a bad track on the project.  Give credit to Retrospect Records for making this available again.

Review by: Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “Planet Under Siege” (5:28), “Shout” (4:21), “Watching And Waiting” (3:40), “Get So Mad” (3:30), “Child's Eyes” (4:37), “Cross The Border” (4:28), “Rapture” (5:15), “Giants In The Land” (4:31), “Daybreak” (3:54), “Stay” (4:45)

Musicians
Doug Basler – Lead Vocals & Bass
Dennis Bush – Guitars
Brian Lawson - Drums

 

Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
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