|Musical Style: Heavy Metal||Produced By: Bill Menchen|
|Record Label: Retroactive||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2006||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 90%|
|Running Time: 37:20|
While guitarist Bill Menchen is best known for his work with Final Axe, Titanic and Rev Seven, a legitimate case can be made that the 2006 self-titled debut of his new band The Seventh Power represents his finest offering to date. Moving in a straightforward heavy metal direction but reflecting the influence of power metal and even doom, The Seventh Power finds Menchen really stretching in the songwriting department and pushing the creativity levels to the limit. The end result is a very consistent endeavor – again, you can tell that Menchen put a great deal of time, thought and effort into the songwriting process – that is certain to appeal to fans of Saint, Armageddon, Ozzy, Black Sabbath, Barren Cross and post Weapons… era Deliverance. Catchy hooks abound, best showcased on Final Axe style hard rockers such as “Christ Died”, “Far From Fear” and “Heaven’s Gate” in addition to the symphonic power metal touches found on “Enthroned” & “Eyes In Skies”. The instrumental “Seven Golden Lampstands” and the experimental “Ocean Of Emotion” add to the albums diversity and stand alongside two of its better numbers in the doom-like “Possessor Of You” and the non-stop energy of “The Power”.
Unlike his previous efforts with Final Axe and Titanic, which were fronted by Keith Miles, Menchen handles lead vocal duties here and delivers a very fine performance with an even sounding mid-octave range vocal style that occasionally hints at Ozzy. As a guitarist, however, he takes the opportunity to turn the album into his own personal shred-fest. And that is a very good thing! “Christ Died” showcases a more fiery side to his playing, while he cuts loose in distorted fashion at the end of “Enthroned” and “Eyes In The Skies”. The lead guitar work gracing “Heaven’s Gate” and “Human Sacrifice”, on the other hand, reflects a more blues based feel. Menchen has also brought in a very talented rhythm section in drummer Robert Sweet (Stryper) and long term Final Axe bassist Rod Reasner. Sweet has been quite the hired gun as of late, contributing his timekeeping skills to Dbeality’s Self-Titled debut in addition Final Axe’s The Axe Of The Apostles. On The Seventh Power, nevertheless, he puts forth his trademark tight as a nail performance and effectively anchors the albums low end with the steady presence of Reasner.
Production values, of the full and polished sounding variety, allow for the bands all out raw energy to stand out in a near perfect mix of crunchy rhythm guitar, pulsating drums and throbbing bass lines.
It is also worth pointing out the bold and upfront nature to the lyrics here in which Menchen and company make several significant statements of faith.
The album gets off to a strong start with “Christ Died”, “Enthroned” and “Eyes In The Skies”.
The catchy “Christ Died” immediately kicks in to a swell of rumbling rhythm guitar, an abundance of stalwart mid-tempo impetus pulling the song ahead until it culminates for an anthem-like chorus pointing to the person of Christ:
And now He has been raised
And now He must be praised
A fiery guitar solo holds sway over a sweeping instrumental section. Great, great song with an equally powerful message:
Holy in His conception
Righteous in His resurrection
To death He carried His cross
In death He takes us across
“Enthroned” gets underway to a slamming riff before tapering off as swirling vocal effects continually repeat the phrase “Holy, holy, holy. Lord God Almighty.” Picking back up in pace, the song launches into a symphonic flavored chorus that almost comes across worshipful in feel:
I am He that lives
And He who was dead
And I am alive
He who says these things
Has rolled away His stone
Ascending up on high
Now He is enthroned
Menchen decorates another extensive instrumental section with his fluid lead guitar work, while he closes out the songs final minute and a half with a blend of rhythm guitar and distorted guitar effects.
Taking off to an exquisite blend of rhythm guitar and piano, “Eyes In The Skies” settles down to a crunch-laden riff upon obtaining its first verse. The piano returns in time, however, to shore up a brief but pointed chorus with a catchy, refuse to go away hook. The rhythm guitar leading the way through the extensive instrumental section closing out the song gives way to more lead guitar work of a distorted variety. Beautiful song.
“Far From Fear” is a straightforward hard rocker that stands out with its stop and start time changes. The song begins to an amalgamation of heavy duty riffs, pounding drums and industrial influenced keyboards, advancing to a forward wall of rhythm guitar before obtaining a chorus delivered in quickly moving and fast paced fashion. Following its second chorus, “Far From Fear” stops dead in its tracks subsequent to taking off to a rollicking instrumental section highlighted by a shredding guitar solo. The song again comes to a complete stop only to make a time change to an instrumental section featuring more shredding lead guitar work.
“Heavens Gates” fades in prior to grinding its way forward at a choppy mid-tempo pace, not gaining initiative until reaching its resolute pre-chorus and breaking out in an up-tempo manner for the hook-filled chorus that follows. Menchen contributes a stretch of blues based lead guitar work to a song talking about the second coming:
Watching the time tick
Waiting for the coming quick
Waiting by the train track
Waiting for the second coming back
Walking in the night time
Of the hour does no man know
And when the time arrives, I’m
Gonna hear the trumpet blow
Several seconds of open air rhythm guitar introduces “Human Sacrifice” before Robert Sweet steps forward with his hammering work on drums. Advancing through its verse portions with a plethora of edge-laden momentum, the song evenly transitions to a catchy chorus in which the band makes a statement of faith:
I believe that Jesus Christ
Is the human sacrifice
I believe that the Savior lives
Long live the King and He lives
Menchen adds to the scene with more skillfully done blues flavored lead guitar work. In the end, the message here is every bit as powerful as the music:
I’ll tell you about all the truth I’ve heard
“Believe in Me and my Word”
I don’t care if you’re rich or poor
There ain’t no one He didn’t die for
The infectious “Ocean Of Emotion” is somewhat of an experimental track that commences to a drum solo before the phrase “emotion – motion - emotion” is repeated four straight times. Gaining initiative for a chorus carried at an upbeat tempo, “Ocean Of Emotion” storms ahead to a deluge of rhythm guitar until breaking out for several seconds of radiant lead guitar work. The lyrics here, while not exactly profound, will leave you tongue twisted to say the least:
Ocean of emotion - motion
Motion of an emotion in an ocean
In the end, this proves an all around good, fun and creative number.
“Possessor Of You” opens ominously to haunting keyboards as the rhythm guitar crashes its way in and out of the mix. Incrementally dragging its way forward in near doom-like fashion, the song breaks out with an abundance of authority for a resounding but powerful hook driven chorus. Dominant, commanding and just plain catchy, this song rules and ranks with the albums best.
Fading in to keyboards that bounce between the left and right channel, the instrumental “Seven Golden Lampstands” progresses to a rollicking blend of rhythm guitar and drums until the guitar quietly moves to the back of the mix as Menchen adorns the scene with his impassioned soloing. As the song incrementally regains its impetus, the rhythm guitar returns to it place of dominance prior to a gruff voice providing narration from the standpoint of Christ:
I know you’re a sinner
I died on a cross at cavalry
I rose from the dead
The album ends strongly with the aptly titled “The Power”. The song opens to a slicing rhythm guitar before moving through its first verse at an upbeat tempo, the purposeful setting maintained as it reaches a chorus repeating the phrase “The power of Christ compels you” with a plethora of energetic momentum. After slowing to a mix of keyboards and piano backed by pounding drums, the rhythm guitar returns to take “The Power” to its close in full force.
In closing, the only constructive comment worth offering is that The Seventh Power is on the short side at just 37 minutes and, as a result, could have used an additional song or two. But this is only an inconsequential matter in that the album proves a consistent listen from front to back. All around, the high professional standards set here in the areas of songwriting, musicianship and production cannot help but place The Seventh Power among the finest releases of the year.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Christ Died” (3:12), “Enthroned” (4:30), “Eyes In The Skies” (3:29), “Far From Fear” (4:25), “Heaven’s Gate (3:32), “Human Sacrifice” (3:21), “Ocean Of Emotion” (3:20), “Possessor Of You” (3:45), “Seven Golden Lampstands” (3:31), “The Power” (4:11)
Bill Menchen – Lead Vocals, Guitars & Keyboards
Rod Reasner – Bass
Robert Sweet – Drums
Also Reviewed: Final Axe – Beyond Hell’s Gate, Final Axe – The Axe Of The Apostles, Menchen - Red Rock, Redeemer - Double Edge Sword, Redeemer - Anno Domini, Rev Seven - Heavy Laden Volume 1, Titanic – Screaming In Silence, Titanic - Full Steam Ahead