Seven Witches - Passage To The Other Side - reviewed by: EC
1. Dance With The Dead 2. Mental Messiah 3. Johnny 4. Apocalyptic Dreams 5. Fever In The City 6. Betrayed 7. Last Horizon 8. Natures Wrath 9. Wasted (Def Leppard Cover) 10. Passage To The Other Side
One of my favorite "new" power metal bands returns.
I'm not really sure if you can still call this power act new, as Passage To The Other Side marks the band's fourth studio offering, and the third vocalist change for the band. Bobby "Leather Lungs" Lucas was the frontman for Seven Witches for their first two releases, only to be replaced with legendary hired gun Wade Black for the grand opus, Xiled To Infinity last year. Jack Frost now has legendary vocal god James Rivera in his band, and I believe this new move works well for Passage To The Other Side, an album that I surprisingly enjoy with Rivera on the mike, a thought I hated last year when I heard that Black was out of the band.
Along with the change at the front comes a change on bass, replacing Billy Mez with famed Joey Vera (Fates Warning, Armored Saint). What has this lineup change done to the sound? Well actually not much. Passage To The Other Side really sounds like its cut from the same cloth as the prior release. Tracks like "Dance With The Dead", "Johnny", and "Fever In The City" rumble along much like "Tyrant" and "Incubus" did on Xiled To Infinity. Rivera is really in top notch form here, using his mid-range pipes for much of the release, and letting the Helstar-type vocals soar on "Mental Messiah", sounding like a "Helstar meets Priest" battle-roar.
Jack Frost really hammers the point home, coming up with vintage metal riffs, recycled but modernized to add even more impact to the sound, complete with style and grace that we have come to expect from Frost. I love the power ballad title track, and the band does a great cover of Def Leppard's Wasted, which was from the very under-rated On Through The Night record. Its good to see Frost paying homage to early pioneers, but in my opinion Seven Witches are paving their own way as well.
There isn't many American metal bands out there playing this style. I'm not talking about dungeons and dragons themes, but good thrashing power metal, ala early Annihilator and Iced Earth, with good songwriting that provokes actual thought. Thinking man's metal if you will. Sure this type of sound is dated, but its almost become a rarity in today's metal scene, where bands are searching for the next Helloween sound, and forgetting about those great US bands like Helstar and Omen. Seven Witches remembers that sound, and they capitalize on it. I'm glad they remember that sound and I'm hoping that this lineup will stay intact, but with the ever changing lives of Seven Witches, one has to wonder.
--Reviewed by EC 4.02.03
About this Writer: Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has served as senior editor for MaximumMetal.com for nearly 10 years and is the author of the heavy metal book series--Denim & Letters. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia.
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