|Musical Style: Heavy Metal||Produced By: Bill Menchen|
|Record Label: Retroactive||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2008||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 40:22|
The past couple years have been quite busy for guitarist Bill Menchen. In 2006 he completed work on the sophomore album of Final Axe, Axe Of The Apostles (a project he started in the early 90’s with vocalist Keith Miles), in addition to releasing the self-titled debut of his new group, The Seventh Power. He followed up in 2007 by putting out the third Titanic CD, Full Steam Ahead, and re-recording much of the material from two of his older bands in Redeemer (Double Edged Sword and Anno Domini) and Rev Seven (Heavy Laden Volume I and Volume II). A very well done Titanic compilation entitled Wreckage also hit the shelves in 2007 before the artist delivered the second full length album from The Seventh Power the spring of the following year, the aptly entitled Dominion & Power.
Dominion & Power finds The Seventh Power continuing to draw upon the influences of straightforward heavy metal and hard rock. The main difference this time around is that Menchen pursues a more stripped down and back to the basics musical direction- at least in comparison to the self-titled debut. Keyboards, for example, now make their presence felt less while gone are many of the previous symphonic and power touches. The trade off in the process is a heavier and more guitar driven effort that brings to mind Menchen’s earlier work with Rev Seven (although fans of Redeemer, Titanic and Final Axe are certain to find a lot to like here). Otherwise, Dominion & Power should appeal to those into Saint, Armageddon, Barren Cross and post Weapons… era Deliverance and perhaps even Ozzy and Black Sabbath as well.
The Seventh Power puts its best foot forward on the muscle-laden metal of the albums driving title track and relentless “Everlasting Fire”. “Hailstone” and “Heavy Laden”, two tracks that can best be described as heavy AND melodic, prove equally notable as does the bottom heavy sounds of “Raise ‘M High” and “Under The Altar”. Keyboards add a highlighting touch to “King Of All Kings” while the slow and driving “Clouds” almost gives rise to a doom-like feel. “Sea Of Galilee”, a composition drawing its lyrics from Matthew 14, approaches doom metal territory as well.
The one area in which The Seventh Power breaks from Titanic and Final Axe – and invites a comparison to Rev Seven in the process – is that Menchen takes on lead vocal duties. The best way to describe his vocal approach would be smooth sounding and mid-octave while hinting at an occasional touch of Ozzy. Lead guitar wise, this might be one of his finer efforts. “Everlasting Fire” and “Dominion & Power” find him cutting loose in fiery fashion while “Hailstone” and “Clouds” reflect a more blues based side to his playing. As with the self-titled debut, Robert Sweet (Stryper) lends his talents on drums and delivers his trademark tight as a nail – and equally creative – performance.
From a production standpoint, Dominion & Power backs away from some of the gloss and polish characteristic to The Seventh Power. Not that DAP is an unrefined effort- its production values prove quite complementary in reflecting the crisper – and, again, heavier – sound. It is worth pointing out, nevertheless, that gone are the “vocal effects” occasionally found throughout the debut, a particular some people made an issue with (I was not one of them).
The albums title track begins to an instrumental introduction carried by several seconds of slower, almost blues based riffing. Gaining momentum for its first verse, the song powers ahead prior to culminating for a driving chorus sustained by a settled deluge of rhythm guitar. Menchen makes his mark with a stretch of blistering lead guitar. “Dominion & Power” touches upon the second coming:
Alleluia, glory, honor and power
The great God brings salvation
Righteous and true is everything that He’ll do
Coming to judge the nations
Dominion & power
This is His hour
Dominion & power
He comes in power and might
“Everlasting Fire” starts to a frenzied – almost militant – amalgamation of rhythm guitar and powering drums. The song tapers to a smooth vestige of piano for its first verse, initiative not building until the rhythm guitar returns prior to a chorus that starts in an even manner only to transition to a more strident direction at its end. Menchen decorates the unflinching scene with more of his fiery soloing.
“Hailstone” can best be described as heavy and melodic, standing out with its domineering rhythm guitar sound and a chorus that comes across near gripping in capacity. An instrumental section that makes a changeover from some thrash-like riffs to a bluesy lead guitar helps “Hailstone” rank with the albums better material. Mid-tempo but ardently delivered, “Hailstone” focuses on apocalyptic themes:
Feeling the wrath of plagues exceeding
The cities of nations fell
Hundred pound falling hailstones
The aptly entitled “Heavy Laden” gets underway to several seconds of open air rhythm guitar prior to kicking into high gear. Sustaining the steadfast impetus, the song impels itself ahead only to break out for a chorus delivered twice in hook-filled fashion. Some tasteful drum rolls from Robert Sweet precede an instrumental section highlighted by a guitar solo of the fluid variety.
“King Of All Kings”, the albums longest track at 4:34, comes across in the form of a metal worship anthem. The song slowly fades in to a keyboard solo that gives way to a vibrant rhythm guitar. A forceful scene is established as “King Of All Kings” drives through its first verse, keyboards adding a highlighting touch for the second prior to a fleeting chorus that gives rise to a worshipful feel:
He is God. King of all Kings. He is God
A gritty guitar solo brings out the best in a song bases around Revelation 19:
His eyes like a flame of fire
On His head many crowns
Has a name that no one knew
Treading the wine press almighty God
He wore a robe dipped in blood
His name is called the Word of God
Armies of heaven in white robes
Follow Him on white horses
“Raise ‘M High” puts in place a bottom heavy low end and joins it with a literal ton of groove. The end result is a weighty composition that dominates its full length, aligning a sublimely delivered chorus with just the right amount of tastefully done time changes. This one is appropriately entitled:
He came down here just to die
He was raised and help up high
How His name is lifted high
And we were raised with Him to die
My God has saved me
Condemned I should have died
O God can save you
Righteous He’s got the right
“Sacrificial Blood” is the only track here I am not completely comfortable with. Perhaps it is the disjointed feel to its verse portions or a chorus I find to not always stand out (at least in comparison to the albums better material), but the overall feeling I get is non-descript. Still, the song IS heavy and showcases the group’s trademark instrumental prowess.
“Sea Of Galilee” can best be described as a “metal” discourse on Matthew 14, portraying the feeding of the five thousand in addition to Christ walking on the water:
Brake and blesses bread – blessed bread was broken
Give to the twelve – twelve give to all
All ate bread – bread filled all
Twelve baskets full – five thousand men
Walking on the waves – calmed the sea
Jesus saves on the sea of Galilee
Lame walk – blind can see
Calm the waves on Galilee
Musically, this one proves classic Seventh Power with another resounding low end and strapping guitar sound- all the while delivering quite the pronounced melody. Some passages here even slow to an almost doom-like tinge.
“The Clouds” might be one of the albums slower compositions but proves no less able. The song opens in a laid back manner to a quietly played guitar, the tranquil setting upheld as things gradually flow forward. Once initiative builds, however, the rhythm guitar slices in and leads the way to a profound chorus in which an ethereal lyrical direction is taken:
Clouds of glory in the sky
Clouds around the bread unleavened
Clouds of angels that can fly
Clouds coming down from heaven
A riveting run of lead guitar perfectly complements the exalted scene.
Closing things out is “Under The Altar”, another example of driving and down tuned metal at its finest. This one creates an apocalyptic environs – both musically and lyrically – as it transitions between its subtly delivered verse portions and a sweeping chorus in which a slamming rhythm guitar makes its presence felt. “Under The Altar” is another number drawing its lyrical themes from the book of Revelation:
Under the altar the souls
Those who had been slain
For the Word of God
And they cried with a loud voice
A loud voice
A raised voice
Heavens rolled away
Mountains moved out of place
Can’t hide from the Lamb
In the day who is able to stand?
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Dominion & Power” (4:14), “Everlasting Fire” (3:42), “Hailstones” (3:35), “Heavy Laden” (4:03), “King Of All Kings” (4:34), “Raise ‘M High” (3:58), “Sacrificial Blood” (3:47), “Sea Of Galilee” (4:34), “The Clouds” (4:12), “Under The Altar” (3:46)
Bill Menchen – Lead Vocals & Guitars
Rod Reasner – Bass
Robert Sweet - Drums
Also Reviewed: The Seventh Power – The Seventh Power, Final Axe – Beyond Hell’s Gate, Final Axe – The Axe Of The Apostles, Menchen - Red Rock, Titanic – Screaming In Silence, Titanic – Full Steam Ahead, Titanic - Wreckage