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
Seven Horizons - Seven Horizons
   
Musical Style: Progressive Rock Produced By: Seven Horizons
Record Label: Independent Country Of Origin: Italy
Year Released: 2010 Artist Website:
Tracks: 11 Rating: 50%
Running Time: 69:16
Seven Horizons - Seven Horizons

There is something special about listening to this album, just like there is something special about an impending tax audit or painful dental procedure.  Yes, you live to tell about it, but it won’t be pleasant.  In all seriousness – and no disrespect to Seven Horizons, a four piece progressive rock outfit from Italy – but it is not uncommon for a bands first effort to be a bit rough around the edges in place.  And such is the case with the independently released summer of 2010 self-titled debut of Seven Horizons.

The best way to describe Seven Horizons would be progressive in the truest sense of the word- in the same manner that Neal Morse and Shadow Gallery are progressive.  Now, I am sure we have all come across bands that claim to be “progressive” but upon first listen turn out to be, well, not very progressive at all.  Seven Horizons, on the other hand, is the real deal when it comes to progressive music, reflected in how they interweave their material with intricate instrumental patterns and jam sessions while allowing for time changes galore that range from faster to slower and heavier to more mellow (and back and forth and back and forth again)- all the while the average song length hovers in the six to seven minute range.

But does that mean the music is any good? In other words, a good song is a good song irregardless of complexity, right?  What it all comes down to is if a song holds up under continuous play, whether or not it is technical in composition or follows a basic verse-chorus-verse pattern.  And that is where I hit the wall with Seven Horizons in that its material – without a doubt intricate, lengthy and very progressive – failed to grow on me with repeated listen.

Why?  Well, the deciding factor is the bands inability to base its compositions upon a foundation of solid melody structures, with the end result a product that is not always memorable.  Too many songs here go on and on and on in lacking the substance that would allow them to bear up over the long term.  The likes of “They System Is Dead”, “Into The Sunshine” and “Empty Jail”, for instance, bring time changes galore but leave me tempted to hit the skip button within the first couple minutes.  But even when the band attempts something different – such as the keyboard ballad “Goliath’s Head” or heavier direction of “Judgment Theory” – my attentions ends up wondering every bit as quickly.  Of course, it is not due to a lack of effort on Seven Horizon’s part (the focus, heart and attention to detail are there) it is just the execution when it comes to compelling songwriting that is missing.

Another problem revolves around the gritty and mid-ranged presence of vocalist Celso De Freyn.  Without a doubt he sings in a lower register in comparison to many progressive vocalist – and that is far from a band thing – but often he comes across strained, thickly accented or simply out of key (listen to “Goliath’s Head” and “Into The Sunshine” and decide for yourself).  I hate to be harsh but on the few songs here that do “work” – such as “Empty Jail” (with its focus on melody) and “War For The Earth” (by far the most creative) – you are left with the feeling the vocals fail to align with the musical happenings at hand.  A Lance King or Neal Morse type is needed here.

Seven Horizons, otherwise, delivers the goods instrumentally.  Its remaining members prove solid musicians, with keyboards Riccardo Oneto standing out as a result of his tasteful work, always accenting and layering with the right effect but not to the point of distraction or unnecessarily dominating.  Both Oneto and guitarist Gianluca Russo shine during the numerous instrumental moments imbuing the material here- they almost remind me of Yes, Kansas and Shadow Gallery in this capacity.  This is a strength I hope the group continues to build upon on any future project it might record.

Seven minute album opener “The System Is Dead” begins to a lengthy keyboard and piano instrumental introduction that gives way to a touch of rhythm guitar.  As the song reaches its first verse, a touch of distortion is added to De Freyn’s vocals while he sings in a smoother style for its flowing chorus.  Of note, a time change to a slower tempo is taken as “The System Is Dead” moves over its final half.

An upbeat direction is taken on “Into The Sunshine”.  The guitar makes its presence felt a bit more here, interweaving with highlighting traces of piano while playing a role throughout a fusion based instrumental section featuring some bluesy guitar.  Similar to “The System Is Dead”, things decelerate for a passage that moves at a near crawl.  Lyrics are encouraging:

Pain of the days, throw it away
Take a deep breath
And just try again
Your life has to change
Just stand up again
Hold back your dreams and then
Trust your God and yourself

Life is a run and we must
Run if we want to see our
Dreams just becoming truth by
Faith we must trust our God

“Empty Jail” stands out with its melodic based emphasis.  The song almost approaches ballad territory, maneuvering its first minute and a half slowly in piano driven fashion prior to picking up impetus as the rhythm guitar takes over.  The forceful trajectory is maintained until things taper to another piano based passage.

“Judgment Theory” is one of the albums more consistently heavier pieces.  The song opens to a complementary piano based opening, kicking into high gear as an even blend of guitar and keyboards steps forward and carries things through its even verses and hard hitting chorus.  An extended instrumental excursion rounds things out.  “Judgment Theory” deals with making the correct eternal decision:

In the end, we will face our fate
Our lives, will they be all right?
When we are at the court
Of the judge of the earth
House of the rising King

When our names will be called
By the One
Who can give and take life
Will you be so skeptic?
And tell me my friend
Will science save your life

“The Miracle” represents all that does not work here.  While the four preceding it border on the passable, this one highlights a predictable feel: How many songs, for example, need to begin to a piano based opening that gives way to a guitar driven stretch?  Irregardless, there is simply not enough present in terms of form and creativity to make this one stand out from the rest.

A hard rocking guitar riff gets the ballad “In The Wilderness” underway.  The song, however, slows to a piano at the start of its first verse, gradually flowing until impetus picks up as the rhythm guitar maneuvers in and leads the way to a praise and worship filled chorus.  Yes, this one includes a nice instrumental passage but the pay off is yet another song in the six minute range.  “In The Wilderness” is a faith based piece:

My God, My Lord, and Saviour
Now that I understand
My life is in Your hands
That’s all I care, I feel renewed
And all the pain and sorrow
Will be just memories
Of an old life
Built up with many lies
But now You’re with me
And I just won’t fear!

I might describe “Goliath’s Head” as an epic snooze fest.  Now, rarely if ever do seven minute ballads do it for me; and there is only one band I can think of that can pull them off consistently- and that is Shadow Gallery.  At this point I feel we need to fact facts: Seven Horizons, at this early stage in its career, is not exactly in the same league as Shadow Gallery.  Lyrics, on the other hand, focusing on the story of David and Goliath, are quite good:

Here I stand, just a boy
Time has come, I must go
I will face Goliath
And his tribe, his army strong
Israel fears but I won’t and
I’ll take his head for the Lord

Just a stone in my hand
With my god, I will beat the giant
Israel, you will learn
That no one can make fun
Of the glory of the Lord

”Pathway To the Throne”, the albums shortest at 3:42, comes across as an emotional reprise of “Goliath’s Head”.  The song actually starts to an interesting fusion based instrumental but soon descends into the same melody and keyboards characteristic of its predecessor.

Seven Horizons again showcases its instrumental prowess during the two minute introduction to “War For The Earth”.  The song moves its remaining distance to an even blend of piano, keyboards and guitar while mixing in some tasty backing vocals, particularly for its uplifting chorus.  This is actually one of the albums finer tracks, standing out with a solid melody and lyrics focusing on the fall of man:

I always get asked about
The beginning of evil
The answer you’ll find inside
Every man on the earth
And it all took place inside
The old Garden of Eden
Just two of our race were guilty
Of all our disgrace

And today the light of the world
Who will speak to the dead?
Are we the people God chose
To fight enemy’s host?
The one that was number two
But now he is the last
Against the Lord of
The universe he cannot last

The groups signature track, “Seven Horizons”, is a calm instrumental upheld by keyboards and orchestration.

Closing things out is the ten minute “Ancient Of Days”.  There is no need to be concerned over the length of the song in that it is divided into two parts, with the first in English and second a reprise in the group’s native Italian.  Musically, it proves a praise and worship themed track with an inspiring tempo and plenty of complementary piano and keyboards.  Again, this is a praise based track:

Blessing and honor
Glory and power
Be unto the Ancient of Days
From every nation
All of creation
Bow before the Ancient of Days

Every tongue in Heaven and earth
Shall declare Your glory
Every knee shall bow
At Your throne in worship
You will be exalted oh God
And Your kingdom
Shall not pass away
Oh Ancient of Days

There are numerous debut CD’s in my collection that have left me feeling there was no hope for the band but I ended up pleasantly surprised upon hearing the sophomore follow up effort.  One of those groups in question is Destra, who made significant steps and strides from its initial offering Sea Of Doubt to its excellent second release Joe’s Rhapsody.  My overall expectation is that we will see the same improvement from Seven Horizons on any sophomore project it might record- the musical ability and musicianship is certainly there to be had.  The major obstacle facing the group at this point is to tighten its songwriting and address the lead vocal issue.

Review by Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “The System Is Dead” (6:47), “Into The Sunshine” (6:26), “Empty Jail” (5:51), “Judgment Theory” (5:47), “The Miracle” (6:56), “In The Wilderness” (5:46), “Goliath’s Head” (7:02), “Pathway To The Throne” (3:42), “War For The Earth” (7:13), “Seven Horizons” (3:49), “Ancient Days” (9:52)

Musicians
Celso De Freyn – Lead Vocals
Gianluca Russo – Guitars
Riccardo Oneto – Keyboards
Jordan Thomas – Drums

Additional Musicians
Davide Canale – Bass
Giusto Agnello - Bass

 

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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