Artist: Seven Kingdoms
Album Title: Zenith
Label: Distortion Music Group
Date of Release: 17 June 2022
For a few years now, I’ve been meaning to check out the band Seven Kingdoms but something has always got in the way. I’ve heard a smattering of songs here and there, but that’s about it. However, finally, in 2022, I have found the opportunity with the Floridian’s latest offering, ‘Zenith’. Somewhat shamefully, I was unaware just how long the band have been going, having started their journey back in 2007. In that time, the American band have released four full-length albums, with ‘Zenith’ being their fifth and first in five years.
Following the departure of John Tyler McDaniel from the apparently cursed bass position earlier this year, Seven Kingdoms took the decision to continue as a quartet. As such, the band is now comprised of a tight-knit, long-standing group of musicians, featuring guitarists Camden Cruz and Kevin Byrd, drummer Keith Byrd, and vocalist Sabrina Cruz. ‘Zenith’ sees the light of day following a highly successful crowdfunding campaign, but I’m convinced that this brings with it some serious pressure as fans have put their hands in their pockets and given money to the band to create a new record. I know I’d feel the pressure at any rate.
Not so much the Seven Kingdom guys though, if the end result is anything to go by. ‘Zenith’ features ten new cuts, alongside a cover of ‘I Hate Myself For Loving You’ by Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, and I cannot tell you how much I have enjoyed listening to this record. To give you a small inkling, I listened to the album front to back for the first time and immediately pressed play for a second time. What makes this even more impressive, is that the first spin began late at night. I was very bleary-eyed the next morning, but it was worth it.
Having now spent several days in its company, I can say with some certainty that the biggest strength of ‘Zenith’ is the variety found within it. Broadly speaking, Seven Kingdoms are a power metal band but in addition, I hear thrash metal, classic heavy metal, NWOBHM, and hard rock. There is plenty of melody and atmosphere too, not to mention a bit of welcome attitude that adds some swagger here and there. Everything comes together cohesively too, with the band’s identity remaining intact throughout. It all adds up to be a highly impressive and thoroughly enjoyable listening experience.
‘Zenith’ begins in powerful fashion too, courtesy of ‘Diamond Handed’. It’s an enthusiastic rocker of a song with a variety of paces from full throttle to a pounding mid-tempo that gets the head nodding appreciatively. There’s even a modern Evergrey-esque chugging riff at one point. Wailing solos, hooks galore, and a strong, memorable chorus are all present and it’s led by the impressive powerhouse vocalist Sabrina Cruz; she gives her all and she has a formidable set of lungs.
With my attention fully captured, Seven Kingdoms don’t waste it, following up the excellent opener with another catchy track in the form of ‘A Silent Remedy’. The power metal influences come to the fore here, whilst the ghost of the NWOBHM genre looms nicely over the proceedings, manifested in the guitar riffs and the harmonies, for which I have a real soft spot.
In a slight change of pace, ‘Love Dagger’ breaks out the full 80s melodic hard rock influences, with a hint of warm AOR aesthetics for good measure. It’s a fabulous track that’s great fun as well as catchy as hell, an irresistible hit of feel-good guitar-driven music that never gets old, especially the chorus, galloping rhythms, and effervescent solos.
The best news of all is that the quality that’s exhibited within the first three songs is not diluted as the album continues. In fact, ‘Zenith’ offers impressive quality and consistency throughout. I can’t think of a single track that I want to skip, or that I like less than the others. ‘Chasing The Mirage’ has a moody, but killer chorus, not to mention more NWOBHM-inspired dual guitar histrionics, galloping power, and over-the-top flamboyance.
Speaking of moody though, none of the tracks are as dark, moody, and atmospheric as the beguiling ‘Valonqar’. It opens in really brooding fashion, and continues in a similar vein throughout. Never exploding into metallic aggression as you might be expecting, instead it acts as an intriguing and magnetic vehicle to showcase Sabrina Cruz’s vocal prowess, albeit accented by a couple of lead guitar solos, a gorgeous rumbling, pulsing bass, and simple but commanding drumbeats.
‘Empty Eyes’ sees the band experimenting with some bold electronic sounds, whilst ‘Magic In The Mist’ opens with blood-and-thunder speedy power metal exuberance which largely continues throughout the song. Incidentally, it’s a great song to listen to whilst cycling uphill – trust me on that one!
The thrash influences that I mentioned earlier within the review are most keenly felt within songs such as ‘Universal Terrestrial’ which incidentally benefits from one of mu favourite choruses on this album. The thrash element continues at the outset of ‘The Water Dance’ which later segues seamlessly into a more grandiose power metal anthem thanks to the huge choral-accented section that appears later in the piece. But overall, this is easily the most varied of the songs on ‘Zenith’, meaning that it is probably my favourite of the lot.
I can take or leave the Joan Jett cover, but this aside, I really cannot fault Seven Kingdom’s new album at all. It’s catchy, fun, well-crafted, professionally executed, and highly entertaining from start to finish. And that will do me very nicely indeed. Be sure to check out ‘Zenith’ if intelligently written melodic power metal is your kind of music, because this should perfectly satisfy any cravings you have in this direction. Nicely done Seven Kingdoms, nicely done indeed.
The Score of Much Metal: 91%
Check out my other 2022 reviews here:
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: