Seven Spires - Emerald Seas

Seven Spires Emerald Seas cover
Seven Spires
Emerald Seas
Frontiers Music srl
Adriane Cowan is one lucky lass. She got into a situation where trying to produce her band’s second album got her a place in Avantasia, among some of the biggest names in the genre, plus on another band formed specially with her in mind from her producer and fellow Avantasian (and Heaven’s Gate’sian, Virgo etc.) Sascha Paeth. Not bad at all.
I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t notice Seven Spires at first, probably confusing them with the by the numbers nerdy Floridian power metallers Seven Kingdoms, who I am not the biggest fan of. However Cowan’s performances with “Masters of Ceremony” made me want to give her original band a go.
Even if they are entering an over saturated sub-genre where corsets, costume concepts rather than lyrical ones and views, seem more important than music and talent itself, Seven Spires are probably better equipped and more capable than your average band that seems to populate this rather stagnant portion of the scene.
The entire album is a prequel to their debut “Solveig” and follows the journeys of the titular hero around the globe and him turning into a vampire by the end of the story. It sounds a lot like a more romantic version of Kamelot helmed by a lass, going Broadway musical, with a bit of neoclassical influenced OVA soundtrack and black metal thrown in just to confuse the living hell out of the listener. Not for good measure!
Jack Kosto, the band’s guitarist, offers some pretty neat solos and shares rhythm duties with Cowan, who’s also responsible for the numerous keyboards on the album. Thankfully he’s graceful enough and doesn’t overplay, which could have taken the album down with it.
“Igne Defendit” is an eastern flavored intro, which preamples the song it segues into “Ghost of a Dream”. The aforementioned track follows the style that the band has chosen, but some nice acoustic flourishes, make it sound very cinematic indeed, combining Cowan’s melodic yet powerful singing (complete with a few backing growls – she also does herself – for effect) and a solo that’s full of gusto.
“No Words Exchanged” breaks the mold of symphonic metal by virtue of its slower pace and busy percussion, with the guitars taking a back seat.
“Every Crest” resumes the Kamelotesque style that inhibits much of the album, but with a twist. Cowan either addresses characters in first person – as in a dialogue, or contemplates the protagonist’s condition in a sort of voice over. This makes the music sound a little different, a little like a mix of a better early-Epica and Ayreon, in a sense.
In “Unmapped Darkness”, following an introduction that feels a little out of place, Cowan goes a little overboard mixing her usual melodic with power metal vocals and even Borgiresque growls, just because she can. It take both talent and balls to go for what she’s done here, but the result sort of justifies her.
“Succumb” opens with some Queen inspired guitar solo, one would expect to hear in the middle of the song and it continues the story quite nicely with some awesome and nifty melodies working wonders.
“Drowner of Worlds” opens with some ominous sounding keys/guitars and high harmonies, before Cowan does her best Dani Filth impersonation… but it gets better, when she starts belting in that voice, or when she goes for clean high pitched wails later on. What really made me raise both eyebrows is the band’s decision to use this song (which is not exactly representative of their style, one would say it’s rather the opposite), as one of their lead of singles. Being part of the roster of Frontiers, a band known for their melodic rock fare, this might just be sending the wrong signal out there. Obviously, it could make “extreme” metallers respect them, but I do have my reservations about that…
“Silvery Moon” is a softer song, reminiscent of Ayreon’s side project “The Gentle Storm”, but turned all the way to eleven.
“Bury You” continues in that vein but with a bolder almost celebratory tone.
“Fearless” sees the return of the “medusa” vocals, but voicing Solvieg, she also responds with some distant harmonies. It’s pretty black metal (if you consider COF black metal) I guess.
“With Love from the Other Side” is a softly song, posthumous declaration from the protagonist to his beloved… that’s suitably dramatic, but also comforting and soothing. It segues, seamlessly into “The Trouble With Eternal Life”, the album’s Kamelotesque conclusion, which ends the story in grand fashion as the lovers are rejoined, as Solvieg, is revealed to be “undead”.
Last but not least, the title track, “Emerald Seas”, is an all-encompassing instrumental outro that reprises a lot of the albums best melodies with a few harmonies thrown in for good measure. It brings the whole thing full circle in the best possible way.
The varied musical tapestry the band weaves is incredibly beautiful. They navigates through the many genres and styles, with a confidence, which takes many other bands years to muster. Adrienne Cowan proves herself a very versatile performer and it’s her that keeps the album from becoming boring, an issue that can often plague concept works. While I may slightly favor the more direct “MOC” style of songwriting, she proves to be quite capable with her own band and material (with probably the aid of a great producer like Sascha aiding the band to sound it’s best). Would love to hear more.