Seventh Wonder – The Testament Review

In some ways, The Testament feels like the band's first more straight-forward album since their second release, Waiting in the Wings, since it has neither an overarching story nor...

Released By: Frontiers Records

Release Date: June 10th, 2022

Genre: Progressive Metal

Links: www.seventhwonder.se

 

Line Up:

Tommy Karevik – Vocals

Johan Liefvendahl – Guitars

Andreas Blomqvist – Bass

Andreas Söderin – Keyboards

Stefan Norgren – Drums

 

Tracklist:

1. Warriors

2. The Light

3. I Carry the Blame

4. Reflections

5. The Red River

6. Invincible

7. Mindkiller

8. Under a Clear Blue Sky

9. Elegy

 

 

2022 has already seen several of my favorite bands releasing new albums, and it seems there will be many more to come, now that bands are starting to finally get caught up with releasing albums again, with seemingly everyone having new music ready to go. One band I was not expecting to hear from entering the new year is the Swedish progressive metal band Seventh Wonder, one of my all-time favorites in their genre. After releasing four albums within five and a half years, the band took nearly eight years to release their fifth full-length album, Tiara, so I was rather surprised to hear they’d managed to put a new album together and have it ready for release within a much shorter three and a half year period, but somehow they have pulled it off. Seventh Wonder is a band that always seems to step up their game with each new release, whether it’s fantastic concept albums like Mercy Falls and Tiara, or a more song-focused album like The Great Escape, anchored by a massive 30-minute title track. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the band this time, because as much as I loved each of their past three albums, in particular, there comes a point where you have to wonder whether such greatness can be sustainable. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the band has taken a slightly simpler approach to The Testament, but while it hasn’t quite blown me away as much as some of the band’s other work, it’s still a fantastic album and one that should please all existing fans of the band.

I mentioned it already, but the last three Seventh Wonder albums, in particular, felt like they’d be tough to match, with each one being ambitious and complex in its way, so it’s not too surprising to see the band deciding to take a slightly more “normal” approach with The Testament, going for more of a classic song-oriented album, instead of either a complicated concept album or an album based around a massive title track. Instead, this is a 9 track, 53-minute album, with a varied offering of songs that do have somewhat of a central theme (lyrics are largely centered around different emotions,) but for the most part, each track is allowed to stand on its own and do its own thing, instead of needing to be a certain thing to fit into the overall picture, which of course allows the band more freedom to write whatever songs they want, as well as allowing for each song to be memorable in its way, which the band has pulled off remarkably, as expected.

In terms of the overall sound, fans should know what to expect, as the band’s lineup has remained the same for the past few albums, and their brand of very melodic, vocal-driven prog remains largely the same as ever, with bursts of power metal and slight symphonic elements here and there. The band’s biggest strengths have always been their emotional lyrics, as well as their warm melodies, especially when it comes to the vocal lines, which always feel more inspired, catchier, and flat out more hooky and addictive than one would usually expect from a prog band, and if anything this is even more noticeable than ever on The Testament. Indeed, vocalist Tommy Karevik is given a ton of room to work with, and he sounds phenomenal as always, with his soaring vocals and warm tone being just as important on a more song-driven album as they are on a story-based album, and he’s very much in top form on this album. With that being said, the instrumental work is also fantastic, as the band continues to strike a fine balance between having moments where the music gets somewhat complex, with some very tight, technically proficient musicianship, while still being very accessible and easy for a more casual listener to get into, with some heavy riffs and cf course plenty of memorable melodies and excellent, very melodic guitar and keyboard solos. Guitarist Johan Liefvendahl and especially Andreas Söderin are both given plenty of room to shine throughout the album, and they both do a fantastic job, as always. Production is also rock-solid, and everything sounds crisp and powerful, as one would expect from the band.

In some ways, The Testament feels like the band’s first more straight-forward album since their second release, Waiting in the Wings, since it has neither an overarching story nor a massive epic title track to end the album, so instead it needs to rely on excellent songwriting across the board to stand out. Thankfully, the band has delivered strongly in that area. I was initially not too fond of the opening track “Warriors” when it was first released as the lead single, but while it’s still my least favorite track on the album, it is a great song overall. It’s one of the band’s most simple tracks to date, leading in with a mix of some chunky riffs, pounding drums, and some very light electronic-sounding keys, which stand out the most throughout the track. I find the verses to be a bit slow and weak by the band’s usual standards, with Karevik using some of his darker Kamelot style vocals, but he opens up with some nice higher vocals for the chorus and sounds great as always. However, I find the chorus itself, while enjoyable and catchy in its own right, doesn’t hook the listener in as much as the band is usually capable of, so while it’s nice, it doesn’t impress me all that much. The best moment of the track comes at the end of the second chorus, with a wonderful transition into a very beautiful, super melodic guitar solo, which shows the kind of excellent melodic songwriting the band excels at.

Following that enjoyable but slightly disappointing opener, the album quickly picks up with a second single “The Light”, a very upbeat track that feels like a classic Seventh Wonder track in the best way possible, led by some very upbeat sounding keys, and delivering plenty of the warm melodies and excellent vocals listeners have come to expect from the band. The upbeat chorus is the highlight of the track, but the verses keep the energy level up nicely, and it’s a fantastic track throughout, not quite going into power metal territory, but moving at a nice pace, and having a nice mix between slightly heavy riffs and some excellent melodies. The highlights continue with “I Carry the Blame”, a slower-paced, very light melodic prog track that showcases the band’s knack for writing catchy vocal hooks, as well as some emotionally charged lyrics, and more warm, wonderful melodies. It starts very softly, with some light riffs before going into a ballad-like a territory during the opening verse, but it opens up with a wonderful, heartfelt chorus that immediately brings some of the band’s best works to mind, and it also has a fantastic transition into a solo near the end, which is one of my favorite moments on the album. Overall, it’s a fantastic track and one of my personal favorites.

Next is “Reflections”, and while I may be wrong on this, I think it may be the band’s first full-length instrumental track, or at the very least, it’s their first one that feels like neither an intro nor an interlude, but instead stands entirely on its own. It’s a fantastic track, too, opening up with a very beautiful piano melody, before quickly switching to the band’s typical melodic prog sound, and it goes through many different phases, including some heavy parts, some wonderful, lighter melodic parts, some excellent solos, and some more complex sections, but it all comes together perfectly, never once feeling aimless or like a show of technical prowess without a memorable tune to go with it.

One of the heaviest tracks on the album is “The Red River”, again opening up with a soft piano section before quickly giving way to a heavy, up-tempo instrumental section, and indeed, this is one of the most power metal influenced tracks on the album, moving at a fairly quick pace throughout, especially during its frantic, intense chorus, but it still gives Karevik plenty of room to shine with some wonderful vocal melodies, and I find the lyrics to be especially hard-hitting on this track. On the shorter side of things is “Invincible”, which makes great use of its under 4 minutes running time, falling into the kind of mid-tempo, very catchy, vocal-driven melodic prog the band specializes in, with a fantastic chorus, and the main riff that feels quite similar to one of the band’s classics “Alleycat”. The band once again goes back into heavier territory with “Mindkiller”, and it’s another personal favorite, being probably the heaviest on the album, as well as having some slight power metal influence. It’s a fairly up-tempo track and has some excellent shredding guitar work during the main riff and solo section which brings Symphony X to mind, though the verses are much lighter and the chorus is very melodic and catchy, as usual.

While the album doesn’t have any massive songs, the longest is “Under a Clear Blue Sky”, clocking in at just under 9 minutes. Like many other tracks here, it starts with a soft extended intro, before the full band kicks in and it turns into another excellent, mid-paced melodic prog track. It’s fairly straight-forward throughout the first half, with a nice mix of heavy riffs and excellent vocal melodies, but then in the second half, it turns into an instrumental showcase for a while, with some of the best solos on the entire album, as well as occasional bursts of heaviness and more warm melodies. It’s an awesome track overall, and one of the standouts of the album. Closing out the album is “Elegy”, a light, vocal-driven ballad. It’s a nice track in its own right, with some great lyrics and a fantastic vocal performance by Karevik, but for some reason, it doesn’t hit me as hard as many of the band’s other ballads, whether it’s the more concept focused ones like “One Last Goodbye” and “Beyond Today”, or even the short and simple “Long Way Home” from The Great Escape. It is a fitting end to the album, lyrically, but musically I do feel the band is capable of much better, so it feels like a slight disappointment.

Seventh Wonder is one of my absolute favorite bands in the world, and ever since Tommy Karevik joined in 2005, they’ve put out one amazing album after another, so it’s no surprise to say The Testament keeps the momentum going. It’s not quite as impressive as the likes of The Great Escape or Tiara, but for being the band’s first shorter, more song focused album in over two and a half decades, it’s still a fantastic album in its own right, with plenty of memorable hooks, warm melodies, excellent choruses and some wonderful vocals and lyrics as fans would expect. Longtime fans of the band should be very pleased with this album, and it would also be a nice place for new fans to start, before checking out some of the band’s more epic, ambitious albums.

 

Ratings: 9/10

Written by: Travis Green

My Global Mind – Staff Writer

Travis Green is a Canadian based writer for My Global Mind, with a particular passion for power metal, as well as an interest metal in all its forms.

 

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