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Seven Kingdoms - The Fire Is Mine
CD Reviews
Written by Sara Letourneau   
Monday, 15 October 2012
Seven Kingdoms CD Review
The Fire Is Mine
Seven Kingdoms - The Fire Is Mine

 

CD Info

2012

Nightmare Records / USA
11 Tracks

English Lyrics



 

When the promo for Seven Kingdoms’ third album The Fire Is Mine landed in my inbox a couple weeks ago, my exact thoughts were: "YES! Finally!" That’s how much I’d been looking forward to it. I loved their 2010 self-titled second album to pieces (read my review of it here), so waiting for its follow-up had been like salivating over photos of dessert after dinner. Then again, it’s difficult not to be impressed by this quintet from Deland, Florida. They chose the path less travelled in female-fronted power metal by relying on thrashing guitars, hammering rhythms, and strong, soulful vocals instead of bombastic orchestrations and operatics. And while The Fire Is Mine isn’t an instant winner like its predecessor was, it shows that Seven Kingdoms is still hungry and able to turn the stereotypes of "femme metal" upside-down.

The Fire Is Mine is Seven Kingdoms’ strongest power metal declaration to date. It’s clear now that Seven Kingdoms was meant to bridge the band’s male-fronted death metal origins (2007’s Brothers of the Night) and their desired path forward. This means no more death growls on the new material, leaving the vocal spotlight solely on Sabrina Valentine. Her voice sparkles with emotion and charisma, and she sounds more comfortable as the band’s frontwoman. Musically, the band delivers more of their trademark avalanche of riffs, shreds, and double-kick drumming. Guitarists Camden Cruz and Kevin Byrd still trade off quick-fingered solos to add even more rocket fuel to the mix. A few tracks also use choir chants, keyboard accents, and slower-paced passages to enhance the drama. It’s worth nothing that Seven Kingdoms worked again with revered metal producer Jim Morris (Savatage, Iced Earth, Crimson Glory). He gives The Fire Is Mine a professional clarity and crispness without compromising the band’s thunder.

Like Seven Kingdoms, The Fire Is Mine is fast and furious but contains plenty of variety. "Forever Brave" has the triumphant attitude and singalong melodies to make it a crowd favorite at future shows. Down-tuned riffs give "Fragile Minds Collapse" the menacing tone it needs, while the progressive twinges of "In The Twisted Twilight" are tamed by the simpler, spiraling chorus. "Kardia," the album’s lone ballad, is an acoustic candlelit journey through the dark to find inner strength. Eventually it morphs into a power ballad where Theocracy frontman Matt Smith joins Valentine to belt out the final refrain: "Your heart is the key / To the ever-wandering why / Trust the unknown / For the naked eye is foolish / Believe to be believed in."

Fantasy is still the lyrical wellspring for Seven Kingdoms. The Fire Is Mine covers all corners of the genre, from science fiction ("Symphony of Stars") and mythology ("Flame of Olympus") to good ol’ tales of battles and majesty. Three tracks in particular ("After The Fall", "The Fire Is Mine", and "The King In The North") pay tribute to George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire And Ice saga. "After The Fall" is an appropriate choice for the album’s first single. The four musicians drill on their instruments as fast as they can as Valentine bids farewell to one’s fear of the unknown. However, no track on The Fire Is Mine is as brilliant as the title track. It’s a spot-on interpretation of the famous funeral pyre scene at the end of "A Game of Thrones." The music smolders with an incensed mix of emotions, and Valentine channels the resolve of character Daenerys Targaryen. It’s a celebration of love and a vow of revenge that Martin himself would be pleased with if he heard it.

Despite the praise I have for The Fire Is Mine, the new album isn’t sticking with me like Seven Kingdoms did. Maybe I’m too attached to Seven Kingdoms… But, oh, the beckoning melodies, the fantastic riffs, the varied songwriting, and hooks and "wow" moments galore – they all make Seven Kingdoms a sonic firestorm. The Fire Is Mine, on the other hand, doesn’t reach that same level. It’s just as muscular and hard-hitting, but has fewer surprises and songs that generally aren’t as strong as the older ones. In fact, if each album’s longest track were to wrestle each other, "Seven Kingdoms" would wallop "The King in the North" by the end of the first chorus. There are times on The Fire Is Mine when everything does come together to create the sorcery that made Seven Kingdoms’ music a wonder in the first place. It just doesn’t occur often enough for this record to appeal to me as much as its predecessor does.

The Fire Is Mine is not a disappointment, though. Seven Kingdoms have tweaked their sound in smart and necessary ways to become a true power metal band. And those tweaks worked for the most part. Perhaps less of a focus on "oomph" to allow more imagination for magical moments would have made this record a real firecracker. But, it’s still fun in that rollicking way that power metal albums should be. Most fans who loved Seven Kingdoms will enjoy The Fire Is Mine. And for anyone who’s like me and prefers the previous album, The Fire Is Mine is still strong evidence that Seven Kingdoms is en route to becoming one of the United States’ leading female-fronted metal bands.

On a non-critical note, could some awesome headlining act scoop up Seven Kingdoms for a North American tour next year? I’ve never seen the band play live – and that needs to change in 2013!

8 / 10


Best Songs: "The Fire Is Mine," "Forever Brave," "Kardia"

Recommended for fans of Seven Kingdoms’ previous album, and for fans of power metal and heavy metal (Doro, A Sound Of Thunder, Triosphere, Benedictum)

The Fire Is Mine is available via Nightmare Records.

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