|Musical Style: Power Metal||Produced By: Herbie Langhans|
|Record Label: Massacre||Country Of Origin: Germany|
|Year Released: 2008||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 15||Rating: 90%|
|Running Time: 71:21|
Germany’s Seventh Avenue has been hit and miss for me over the years. I find much of the group’s earlier material, Rainbowland (1995), Southgate (1998) and Between The Worlds (2002) come to mind, to border on the lackluster with songwriting that is either too long winded or that strays towards the repetitive side of things. Tales Of Tales (1996) represents the lone exception, a wonderfully conceived melodic metal album blessed with hooks and melodies of the abundant variety. Eternals (2004) is another standout effort. Showcasing the near perfect balance of the melodic and the heavy, Eternals proved, at the time, to be the quintessential Seventh Avenue album. That designation, however, now belongs to the bands most recent work, the spring of 2008 release Terium.
Terium finds Seventh Avenue continuing to tread the waters of European power metal territory. Fans of Helloween, Rage, Gamma Ray, Stratovarius and Blind Guardian will find a lot to like here as should those into Divinefire, Essence Of Sorrow, Harmony, Narnia, 7 Days and Sacrecy. What stands out most about Terium – a 15 song album featuring over 70 minutes of music – is its remarkable consistency in that all its material holds up under repeated play (not something you could always say about the bands past efforts). As a matter of fact, founding member Herbie Langhans (vocals/guitars) has mastered the art of melodic based songwriting. Just check out the catchy hooks gracing up-tempo compositions “Terium”, “Needs” and “Two Masters” in addition to those on the more tempered (if only just slightly) sounds of “Crowd In The Dark”, “Betrayal” and “Way To The Stars”. The technical direction taken on “Futures Dawn”, “Brighter Than The Sun” and “Priests And Servants” – plenty of time changes on these four – prove equally notable while the same can be said for the ballads “Hands Of The King” and “Innocence”.
Herbie Langhans continues to bring a gravelly and raspy vocal style that at times reminds me of Les Carlson (Bloodgood). The album, if anything, finds Herbie coming into his own. This is best demonstrated on the smooth sounding approach he takes on “Two Masters” or the trademark gritty delivery he imbues “Trail Of Blood”. He has not lost his touch in the area of lead guitar either (the albums title track and “Brighter Than The Sun” finds him letting loose with some ripping leads). Joining Herbie on rhythm guitar is riff-master Flo Gottsleben (quite the abundant guitar sound laid down by the guy) while rounding out the rhythm section is bassist Markus Beck and robo-drummer Mike Pfluger. Pfluger, mercifully, does not overdue it in the double bass department (as can happen with some power metal bands). Otherwise, his style accentuates in providing the needed touch – on double bass – whenever needed.
Production values, crisp, clean and allowing all the instrumentation to rise above the mix, fail to disappoint.
Lyrically, Terium can best be described as a concept album melding elements of science fiction and biblical imagery. “Terium” is actually a term for a highly addictive substance that acts as a metaphor for sin. Christ is represented in the story as Ratis (the Creator’s Son), who has come down from heaven to free everyone from the addiction in question. All the while the tale is interwoven with spaceships and spacesuits, “police robots” (got one in my closet) and trips through galaxies that, amazingly, take only days. Yes, a great deal of imagination here but a great deal of truth as well (just imagine the Gospel but with a heavy science fiction slant).
Instrumental album opener “Under The Surface” is driven its brief (1:05) distance by cinematic keyboards.
“Crowd In The Dark” begins its first minute to an intent rhythm guitar driven instrumental opening. The song transitions to its first verse as impetus builds, the decisive setting upheld on the way to a catchy chorus giving rise to a hope based message:
Crowd in the dark
Light will shine on you
Universe will see
You will rejoice
At the broken yoke laid on shoulders bended with pain
The albums title track starts at once to an energy laden riff. Tapering to a muscular rhythm guitar for its first verse, “Terium” regains its lost initiative for a sweeping chorus underscored by rapid-fire double bass. With its epic – almost dramatic – feel and non-stop verve, “Terium” ranks with the albums better material. Nice stretch of lead guitar at its end as well.
“Authorities” moves Terium in a mid-tempo heading, standing out with its rhythm guitar driven edge and abundant backing vocals (particularly during its lushly delivered chorus). I enjoy how the song slows even further during its second bridge before a stretch of melodic based guitar harmony briefly takes over.
“Futures Dawn”, the albums longest track at 6:00, opens calmly to a quietly played guitar before abruptly launching into a double bass driven riff. Switching to an acoustic guitar for its first verse, the song picks up in pace as the rhythm guitar returns to forcefully lead the way through its melodic based bridge and majestically tinged chorus that follows. Beautiful song with plenty of tasteful time changes. “Futures Dawn” declares how the Savior has come:
Futures dawn – now the sunrises cause Saviour has come
And His star will just lighten up the dark
God still cares for His people – now He’s taken a chance
Futures dawn is the end of present dusk
“Brighter Than The Sun” delivers its share of time changes as well. The song gets underway to swirling keyboards that give way to a slamming rhythm guitar and vocal harmonies. Upon reaching its first verse, “Brighter Than The Sun” takes off in fiery fashion only to smoothly settle down for its bridge (in which quite the catchy environs is established). An upbeat chorus, conversely, is delivered with an abundance of spirited momentum.
“Needs” commences to a drum solo before charging ahead to a snarling guitar riff. Maintaining the upbeat tempo, the song culminates for a decisive chorus upheld perfectly by a metal edged rhythm guitar. Every bit as heavy as it is catchy, “Needs” represents all that works well on Terium. The lyrics to “Needs” come across in the form of a prayer:
Holy Father Lord Creator
The highest name in the universe
We wait for Your Kingdom to come
In universe your will shall be done
Don’t You let us down today
We wait for Your power to come
A slowly moving blend of keyboards and quietly played guitar introduces “Two Masters”. Picking up in pace once the rhythm guitar kicks in, the song settles down for its first verse only to regain its initiative for an infectious chorus talking about making the correct eternal decision:
Struggle – what will you believe?
Cannot divide your heart
There are still two masters to choose
Decide – it’s up to you
What will be your master
Creator or Terium?
Nice display by the band of its instrumental sound here.
Things slow down to semi-ballad territory on “Hands Of The King”. The acoustic guitar shoring up this one during its first verse is joined by a crisp rhythm guitar for its smooth sounding bridge. As the song obtains its chorus, it breaks out in a poignantly charged manner as a trace of keyboards highlights the backdrop.
“Priests And Servants” represents this reviewer’s choice track of Terium. A piano gets the song underway, gently carrying things ahead until the rhythm guitar suddenly steps forward hard and heavy. “Priests And Servants” proceeds to take off to a double bass driven riff, a near speed metal environment prevailing over its raucous bridge and tenacious chorus delivered in authoritative fashion. A very classy piece written from the standpoint of Christ:
I hear the cries of men
Cause they want to be free
Healing is in my hand
It drives me round the bend
Creators heart is love – why can’t they see it
Why are you so stubborn to ignore the meaning
Creators Son I am – you don’t’ believe it
You read the prophecies but you don’t see through them now
The anthem-like “Trail Of Blood” takes off to a galloping riff only to slow to a gritty rhythm guitar for its first verse. Gradually crawling its way forward, the song gains momentum throughout its tersely delivered bridge and a tight sounding chorus in which Langhans exhibits the full range to his voice. Another graceful stretch of lead guitar adorns this one.
“Betrayal” starts in a near heavy duty manner to a driving riff before chopping its way ahead at a muscular mid-tempo clip. The song maintains the steadfast initiative its distance, amalgamating another hook driven chorus with more of the bands adept instrumental prowess. “Betrayal” is aptly named:
Take bread, take wine
Bless it, share it out
It is my body given for your sins
For your sins
My time has come – wish it would not
I feel so cold – my death is near
Never want to drink this sorrowful cup
My heart is low – on this midnight hour
I’ll be alone – I’m frightened to death
Yet not what I want but Your will be done
An eerie combination of pulsating bass lines and pounding drums initiates “Way To The Stars”. The song proves a stylish hard rocker its remaining distance, standing out with its abundant guitar harmonies and atmosphere that almost comes across sublime in feel. A brief but persuasive chorus is shored up by a trace of vocal harmonies.
A piano backed by orchestration carries the extent of the captivating ballad “Innocence”. While a laudable job has been done here in establishing a poignant scene, I wish this one had been accentuated by a rhythm guitar or, better yet, a moving guitar solo. Still, a very fine effort from the band.
“New Era”, the albums closing track, covers its first minute to an aggressive rhythm guitar underscored by double bass. Sustaining the intent impetus as it drives ahead, the song makes an even transition to a catchy chorus in which a hard hitting setting is put into place. “New Era” talks about how He is risen:
As the prophets said
(He) would be put to death
But He’ll rise again
He’s the Saviour for all
End the reign of death
Reject Terium (sin)
Lay the foundations for the new era
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Under The Surface” (1:05), “Crowd In The Dark” (4:49), “Terium” (5:20”, “Authorities” (4:36), “Futures Dawn” (6:00), “Brighter Than The Sun” (4:51), “Needs” (4:19), “Two Masters (4:29), “Hands Of The King” (5:08), “Priests And Servants” (5:48), “Trail Of Blood” (4:42), “Betrayal” (5:35), “Way To The Stars” (4:44), “Innocence” (4:51), “New Era” (5:04)
Herbie Langhans – Lead Vocals & Guitars
Flo Gottsleben – Guitars
Markus Beck – Bass
Mike Pfluger – Drums