1/13/2006 - Review by: Eric Compton
Seven Witches - Amped - 2006 - Candlelight Records
Jack Frost is this millennium's version of that man. He has been involved in numerous projects including Bronx Casket Company, Savatage, and his solo work just to name a few. His meal ticket seems to be Seven Witches, and with that outfit he has scored some minor success with the likes of "Seventh War In Heaven" and "Xiled To Infinity And One". Through his trials and tribulations, Frost has become a sort of icon within the metal community, always helping out those indy bands new on the scene as well as pioneering his own brand of modern US power metal. He continues that path with Seven Witches' sixth studio effort to date, this one simply being called "Amped". Appropriate enough I would assume.
Just like other notable US acts like Overkill and Iced Earth, this band has seen its share of revolving door entrances and exits. Current Overlorde vocalist Bobby Lucas fronted the band for their first two albums, each of those tinged with a slight progressive overtone. The band's best work to date was the collaboration of Frost and current Leatherwolf vocalist Wade Black on the triumphant "Xiled To Infinity And One", which saw the band turn the corner and start to make some headway. From there journeyman James Rivera took the helm and Frost led the campaign with "Passage To The Other Side" and "Year Of The Witch". Now Rivera is out (what a shock he is now fronting Vicious Rumors), and a long lost talent makes his way in; Alan Tecchio. Who is Tecchio? Most fans will remember his stellar vocal work with the bands Non-Fiction and Hades. Also joining service this time is new bassist Kevin Bolembach, who worked with Tecchio in Non-Fiction.
Some fans have voiced their concerns that Seven Witches just simply goes through the motions, never quite straying from the same sound they have delivered year in and year out. I personally feel that with the change at the vocal spot, Frost seems to write songs and patterns that are different for each record. For the first two albums Bobby Lucas had the ability to hit very high notes, really allowing for much more depth as far as song structuring and progressive elements. With Black and Rivera the band was held in check by simply soaring to the Heavens with crushing power and might. Those two singers had authority and the perfect demeanor to deliver a high octane power trip. Now we have a totally different singer in Tecchio, which allows Frost to mix it up some and allow for a slight change of sound.
Certainly you won't find any hard rock or progressive elements with "Amped". Instead Frost builds the entire album on mid-tempo grooves and tons of catchy hooks and chops. The speed is there when needed (see "GP Fix") but the band goes into more of a loosely built machine that relies on groove more so than the power metal speed fests of the last two records. Tecchio proves he is a high caliber singer, really soaring and hitting the occasional high note, but for the most part his delivery is more of a superior, melodic tone. He has the aggression, which is put on display often ("West Nile", "Fame Gets You Off"), allowing for fans of more hardcore realms to appreciate Tecchio's diversity. Musically Frost is on top of his game here, providing all of the huge riffs and amazing solos that you come to expect from this dominating source of power. My favorite cut is "Sunnydale High" with it's rapid fire punch and "West Nile", an amazing opener that gives credence to Tecchio's diversity. As always a cover tune appears, this time a great rendition of Billy Idol's "Flesh For Fantasy".
Bottom Line - "Amped" is the perfect red line racer to kick off 2006.
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