Tiara is one of the albums, the melodic progressive metal fan was anxiously waiting for. It has been eight years since the previous release; The Great Escape (see review 2010), not counting their live debut on Frontiers Records (2017). Off course, when vocalist Tommy Karevik was asked to join Kamelot, Seventh Wonder seemed to have been put on the sideline for a bit. But even during touring and recording with Kamelot, time was found to start working on a new album. It's fair to say,”About time!” I guess.
Since The Great Escape, the band has parted with their drummer Johnny Sandlin, in favour of Stefan Norgen, who already made a great impression on the live DVD last year. The remaining core are still bass player Andreas Blomqvist, guitarist Johan Liefvendahl and keyboard player Andreas Söderin. While Tommy Karevik continues to take care of the lead vocals.
Tiara is the band's second concept album, after the highly regarded No Mercy album in 2008 After a short instrumental intro; Arrival, Seventh Wonder's recognizable style can be heard during The Everones; a majestic, bombastic powerhouse. The typical track we were waiting for. Besides the great balance between the instruments and vocals, Stefan Norgren's drum sound definitely stands out and has become a defining part of Seventh Wonder's sound. With Dream Machines, the power of the previous track continues; great guitar solos, multiple layers of keyboards and challenging bass lines only support the dedicated vocals in this fine track. On the No Mercy album, Tommy showed his emotional side several times, Against The Grain definitely has some of those similar moments, but what stands out for me is the fantastic instrumental break, before the guitar solo, brilliant. Although the following Victorious is a great composition, the Glorious, Victorious part doesn't get me, perhaps some American influences have entered here. On the other side, the trilogy Farewell gives me the shivers in a similar way Tears For A Father or Tears For A Son did. Three wonderful compositions united into one magic moment, which could last forever. The Truth shows more emotion; introduced by a beautiful bassline and very percussive drumming, Jenny Karvik adds her vocals to this intriguing emotional part of the concept. The power returns with By The Light Of The Funeral Pyres, led in by a wonderful Billy Sheehan reminding bass part, this song is a real powerhouse, killer riffs, great keyboards and thundering drums. The solos by both Andreas and Johan are tasteful, complementing each other. Damnation Below also is a very powerful, but progressive composition, perhaps the most progressive one of the album, due to adventurous bass lines, strong drum pattern and the melodic contribution of both guitar and keyboards. Procession is a forty-five seconds intimate track, dedicated to Tommy's vocals over what sounds like a church organ. The album finishes with a nine and a half minute progressive epic; Exhale, where all the highlighted points of the album are joined into one big masterpiece, absolutely one of the highlights of the album.
Seventh Wonder remains one of the main representatives of the catchy melodic progressive metal style from Scandinavia. Tiara proves they are back and I hope the band will get a chance to perform these wonderful tracks live during an immense tour. Personally I prefer this kind of progressiveness over the slightly over the top productions of Tommy's other band Kamelot.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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