|Review: Seventh Seal - The Black Dragon's Eyes|
|The Black Dragon's Eyes|
Year released: 2003
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: March 18, 2004
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
for:The Black Dragon's Eyes
This is the debut CD from Seventh Seal, yet another Italian Power Metal band. This is not normally an album I would pay any attention too, as everything about this package screams 'generic', and yet this one plucked at me. The ol' metal detector is not often wrong, so I tried some samples, and as you can see I went ahead and bought the CD. I didn't find anything I did not expect on this album, except quality.
So yes, this is nothing surprising stylistically. Seventh Seal play fast and melodic Power Metal that recalls a bazillion other Italian bands, but they do it better. Their promo copy proclaims them to be akin to early White Skull or Warlock, but I don't really see that much. Seventh Seal do have a female singer who bears a rough resemblance to Frederica (ex-White Skull) but musically this is much more melodic and less aggressive than White Skull. I find the music here reminds me a good bit of Heavenly, actually, or Domine – I like this better than Domine though.
All the expected elements of this sort of CD are here in plenty: big choruses, fast riffing and leadwork, songs about dragons with references to AD&D, and a song about gladiators, which seem to be required these days. "The Black Dragon's Eyes" packs no surprises whatsoever, even down to the atrocious accent on the vocals, and yet… And yet after a couple of spins I caught myself humming these tunes in my head. The big, booming chorus of the album opener, the volleying title track, the epic "Living For Honor", and the awesome, awesome riff of "Midnight Train". The songwriting here may be generic, but the songs themselves are not standard issue. Usually Italian Power Metal just blurs past, and results in a CD no more memorable than the blur of generic Black Metal, but Seventh Seal have avoided this. They kept the keyboards away, kept the pedal all the way down, and cranked out some solid, memorable songs. Not every song here is that great, but only "The Unicorn" comes off as really unfocused and makes me reach for the skip button. Even the ballad "Nightly Rainbow" is well-written and doesn't wear out it's welcome.
The CD cover is a monument to photoshop ingenuity. Take a bit from a Larry Elmore painting off a Dragonlance calendar, stick it on a background, and add a heavily photoshopped photo of what looks like a gaming miniature. Amazing they managed to produce a rather arresting cover with such cheap effects. You don't want to read the lyrics, trust me. One more 'Shadowdale' reference and I was going to leap off a cliff. I mean, I'm a gamer, I've played Dungeons and Dragons for like 20 years now, but get a grip people. There are two cover songs on here to pad out the running time: Riot's "Thundersteel" and Helloween's "I'm Alive", they're handled well enough, I'm just not a real fan of covers.
This is indeed 'yet another speedy melodic Power Metal band from Italy', but Seventh Seal are good enough songwriters to impress despite this stigma. For a debut, especially, this is an impressive piece of work. If Seventh Seal can keep this up, the next album could be a real monster, and this band certainly has the potential to reach the first rank of bands in their genre.
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