Welcome to the 12th instalment of my Album of the Year 2018 top 30 countdown. Far from losing momentum, my excitement about revealing my favourite records released this year is simply increasing. The closer I get to the top ten, top five and my number one choice, the more eager I am to write these posts and hit that all-important ‘publish’ button.
I know I say it a lot but I really do welcome any thoughts on my picks – I’ve had a couple of dissenters in the ranks, but so far, it has all gone depressingly smoothly! Surely some of you must think I’ve made a faux-pas? If so tell me – I always enjoy lively debate. You’re wrong of course, but I like to hear your flawed arguments!
As always, if you’ve missed the previous picks in this series so far, links to these can be found at the bottom of this post.
And now for today’s main event…
Score of Much Metal: 9.5
After such a long wait for a new album, it was inevitable that many of our expectations might be too great. And even more problematic, was the concern that maybe my relief and delight at a new album might cloud an objective review. As it was, because of the record label’s policy on promo access, I had to wait to pen my thoughts until I bought my copy of the album after its release.
When I first heard ‘Tiara’, I was certainly impressed. It is undeniably a hugely powerful record, full of energy, dynamism and instrumental complexity as well as being hugely melodic in the process. There are some killer songs on this record, with closer ‘Exhale’ top of that list and the likes of ‘Dream Machines’ and ‘The Everones’ not far behind Plus, without wanting to sound disrespectful to Kamelot and Karevik’s output in that band, Tommy’s performance here totally eclipses anything he has done with Kamelot to date.
So why is ‘Tiara’ not higher up my list? The answer lies in the production for one, with which I have been disappointed. I mean, you can barely hear one of the planet’s best bassists for a start and I do feel fatigued as the album nears its conclusion. This is a shame. The other reason is that, now the dust has settled, I feel like I just wanted a few more sparks to fly off this album. It’s extremely good, there’s no denying that and it rightfully gets a spot in my final top 20. But, had it taken the odd extra risk and not played it quite so safe, it might have nestled within my top five or higher still.
But hey, let’s not split hairs – ‘Tiara’ is a more than welcome return from an important band in my life, reminding me of why I have missed them over the past eight years or so.
To quote my review of 17 October 2018:
“To put things into context, I’m a big fan of Seventh Wonder and I, like many others, have been impatiently waiting for a follow-up to ‘The Great Escape’, their fifth album released some eight years ago. However, whilst I liked ‘The Great Escape’, it will take an awful lot for the utterly glorious and over-the-top brilliance of the concept disc, ‘Mercy Falls’ to be beaten. That disc is a 10/10 job, one of the few that I delivered whilst writing for the UK magazine, Powerplay.
…Karevik is not the only exceptional talent within Seventh Wonder either. In fact, their brand of generally up-tempo, grandiose blood and thunder progressive metal is created by an immensely talented set of musicians
And the great thing about Seventh Wonder’s music is that the more flamboyant stuff is offered frequently and without apology. I love the wailing guitars, the squealed harmonics, the swathes of keys, the pulsating, dancing bass and the dynamic drum beats, rhythms and fills. If I wanted understated, frankly I’d listen to someone else.
It would have taken something near-flawless to knock ‘Mercy Falls’ off its pedestal and whilst ‘Tiara’ does its very best to do just that, it just falls agonisingly short. Nevertheless, having waited eight long years for new material, the important thing is that Seventh Wonder have not let us down, delivering a hugely impressive album that, despite the small misgivings I have with the production, gets better with each and every listen. If we were ever concerned that maybe these Swedes had lost their edge over time, ‘Tiara’ is the near-perfect riposte, proving that life is so much better with Seventh Wonder in it than without. Welcome back gentlemen, let’s not leave it so long next time, though, eh?!”
Read the full review here.
If you missed the previous posts in my 2018 list, click here:
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 20
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 21
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 22
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 23
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 24
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 25
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 26
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 27
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 28
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 30
If you missed my ‘best EPs and compilations of 2018, you can read that here:
And here’s a reminder of my countdown series from previous years: