Seven Witches may have started out as a band, but over time it has become a revolving door of musicians with only guitarist Jack Frost as the steadfast warrior. The band's style is classic American traditional power metal, reminiscient of bands such as Helstar and Metal Church, with a nod to Judas Priest. The band's list of past and present members is outstanding and links them to an entire horde of other American power metal bands. In 2003 Frost hooked up with legendary vocalist James Rivera, who happens to be one of my favorites. Fortunately James stuck around to give us two superb albums with Seven Witches before moving on.
Seven Witches - Second War in Heaven (Massacre) 1999
1. "Rising Torches
"Second War in Heaven" is humble beginnings for a band that has rapidly become one of my favorites. This album is chock full of what I would simply label heavy metal. Unfortunately the band is labeled power metal, which in modern metal circles brings up thoughts of bands like Rhapsody and Blind Guardian. However, Seven Witches are much less flowery than these bands and have a heavier, tougher sound and attitude. This is just good quality heavy metal. If I were to compare them to anyone it would be to bands like Metal Church, Liege Lord, Helstar and, of course, Judas Priest. Vocalist Bobby Lucas has a raspy voice that reminds me of David Wayne at times, although more in style than tone. This CD features two covers, "The Chain" is a Fleetwood Mac cover and "Metal Daze" is a Manowar cover. Of the two, I think "Metal Daze" is a more fitting choice for this band, although neither song is shoddy. Having not discovered Seven Witches until "Xiled to Infinity and One" in 2002, I didn't get to hear this CD until I was already very familiar with their newer material. Comparing this CD to those, I can't say that "Second War" would top any of the band's follow-ups, but this is an excellent debut from a great metal band.
Seven Witches - City of Lost Souls (Crash Music) 2000
1. "The Question"
"City of Lost Souls" is the sophmore release from American heavy metal band Seven Witches. The line-up on this second CD pretty much stayed the same, with the exception of new drummer John Osborne. As with their debut album, this CD is outstanding. Each and every song is as important as the next. Bobby Lucas sounds fantstic, and has the perfect voice for this band. It's too bad this would be the last album for him. There are two covers on this album, Exciter's "Pounding Metal" and Pat Benetar's "Hell if For Children". Both are outstanding, although I must confess to liking the Exciter song just a bit more. Musically, the best description I can come up with is a cross between Metal Church and Judas Priest. This is real American heavy metal!
Unfortunately this CD was only available as a German import for years. However, in 2006, Crash Music re-released this CD and "Second War In Heaven" in the U.S.. I couldn't say if the sound has been enhanced or not, but I can say that the cover art is poorly reproduced on the re-release. The Crash Music disc offer a bonus track. This track, quite frankly, wasn't neccessary. An industrial remix of "Pounding Metal" is an oxymoron.
Seven Witches - Xiled to Infinity and One (Noise/Sanctuary) 2002
1. "Metal Tyrant"
WARNING! This CD contains no choirs, keyboard effects, orchestras, elves, dungeons or dragons. Rather, what we have is pure Power Metal all the way with a heavy nod to the mighty Judas Priest. Simply stated, Jack Frost is one incredible guitar player and the force behind this bands sound. His biting guitar sound and metal licks are the driving force behind this disc. What else can you expect from an album that starts off with a voiceover stating, "We're taking back the metal." Cheesy? Perhaps, but if this is cheesy, then I like cheese! I have read reviews that state that Seven Witches isn't "original" and is just a Priest-clone. Well, neither is true. While they do have a traditional metal sound and are obviously influence by Priest, they are not a band clone band either. For the most part this CD kicks tail from beginning to end. Songs like "Metal Tyrant" and "Incubus" blowing holes through my speakers with their lethal sound. "Warmth of Winter" has a slightly different sound than much of the rest of the disc with an almost Nevermore sound. Another standout cut is the Grim Reaper cover, "See you in hell" which features a duet with Joe Comeau (Annihilator/Overkill/Leige Lord). Crimson Glory vocalist Wade Black puts on a stellar performance here, stretching his vocal chords to inhuman levels. Overall, a solid heavy metal platter that should bring any metal fan to instant fits of headbanging.
Seven Witches - Passage To The Other Side (Noise) 2003
As if Jack Frost and Seven Witches weren't a great metal band already, they add new vocalist James Rivera, who happens to be one of my all-time favorite metal vocalists. The guy can scream like Halford, has the classic metal sound of Dio and Gillan, yet has unfortunately never been able to break out of the underground with his former bands, Helstar and Destiny's End. Well, let's hope that Seven Witches does it for him. This CD is simply outstanding and deserves accolades. "Passage To The Other Side" is pure heavy metal that pushes the edge of speed metal at times. Rivera's vocals wail over top of Frost's tasty guitar licks. These two are simply the perfect match for each other. The first few tracks are fast, furious, and simply shred. All the tracks have that "Painkiller"-era Priest sound that bands like Primal Fear have also adopted. "Mental Messiah" in particular has those over-the-top, high, falsetto vocals that Halford made famous over the years. The double bass work in this song will leave jaws dropped wide open. It's not until "Apocalyptic Dreams" that we are given a more mid-paced number. This particular track actually doesn't sound that far off from what Helstar was doing back in the day. Despite being slightly slower in tempo, the intensity is still present. Actually the entire CD from start to finish is just 100% fist-pounding, aggressive heavy metal. There isn't a track that won't give you instant whiplash. Even the superb Def Leppard cover is just over-the-top excellent! ("Wasted" is one of Def Leppard's best songs.)
Seven Witches - Year of the Witch (Sanctuary Records) 2004
Seven Witches fifth studio release is yet another feast of pure heavy metal bliss! I mean, if the opening riff and screaming vocals of "Metal Asylum" don't get your blood stiring, you may need to check you pulse. Jack Frost and James Rivera are the perfect blend. Frost's blazing metal licks along with Rivera's soaring vocals put the band above the hordes of power metal bands currently cranking out albums. Metal Asylum" is a blazing metal anthem that gives accolades to the many legends of heavy metal that have inspired countless others to follow in their paht. For those who have been a part of the metal scene for a couple decades there are a ton of musical references buried in the lyrics of this song. When Rivera shouted "Scream for me long beach!" during the bridge I smiled from ear to ear. If you don't know what that is in reference too, then you are probably not up on your metal history. The title track is another screaming, heavy song with a killer hook. As well, the Dave Ellefson (ex-Megadeth) penned "If You Were God" grabs the listener by the jugular and never lets go. Rivera's vocals are doubled up in many of the songs. In tracks like "Cries of the Living" Rivera will sing one track in a high pitch and then the other in a lower pitch. I personally think this sounds sort of cool. The CD finishes off with an epic, concept track titled "Jacob". At the time of writing this I hadn't spent enough time with the lyrics to completely grasp the storyline. These tracks are all strong as well, making "Year of the Witch" a solid album from start to finish. While there are 14 tracks, this CD is only forty minutes long. Perhaps other bands could take a lesson here. It's far better to have forty minutes of killer music, than over an hour of music with half the tracks being filler material. It should also be mentioned that the production here is crystal clear. The guitar has a biting tone, the bass is thumping, the drums are like bombs hitting the earth and the vocals absolutely take this CD to another level. "Year of the Witch" is truly an excellent metal disc that no metalhead should be without. Seven Witches have truly delivered the good once again! Here's hoping the James Rivera will stick around for yet another round.
Seven Witches - Amped (Candlelight) 2006
1. "West Nile"
Seven Witches is basically Jack Frost's band with a revolving door of talent. Alan Tecchio (ex-Hades, Watchtower) is the band's new vocalist and is another in a long line of talented vocalist to pass through this band. Additionally, Winter's Bane veteran Jeff Currenton plays drums on "Amped". What this servers to do for Jack Frost is to allow him to never sound stale. I must confess I was a bit bummed that James Rivera left the fold as he is one of my favorite vocalists. However, Tecchio adds something to the band that I wasn't expecting. While past albums have been firmly rooted in classic heavy metal and power metal, "Amped" adds a bit of speed metal and even thrash to the equation (see GP Fix). However, it's songs like "Sunnydale High" a mid-paced heavy metal romp, that really gets my blood pumping. This is classic heavy metal. (It's also worth mentioning that the lyics on this track were inspired by Buffy the Vampire Slayer.) Frost pretty much builds the entire album on these mid-tempo grooves along with the catchy hooks and soaring chops. I suppose some will criticise the fact that Frost's songwriting here isn't the most original thing out there. I've said it before, and I will say it again, SO WHAT! Since when does everything have to be completely different from everything else to be good? I can appreciate a landscape painting no matter how many times it's been done. Each individual artist has a different take on that same landscape. The same holds true here. While "Amped" is most certainly rooted in traditional heavy metal, Frost and Tecchio add their own stamp to the music creating something completley enjoyable. I can't see anyone accusing Frost of being a Judas Priest or Dio clone here. "Be" offers a slightly more melodic moment on the CD. This song is still heavy but is closer to what I would call a ballad, although this is certianly not some tacky 1980's radio dribble. As with many past Seven Witches CDs, "Amped" includes a cover of a past classic. In this case it Billy Idol's "Flesh for Fantasy". I can't say this is one of my favorite songs of all time, but at the same time it works ok in the context of this album. "Widows and Orphans" finished things off with a bang. This song is probably my second favorite to "Sunnydale Hight". This is one of the lengthier songs on the CD but no less interesting or catchy.
1. "Deadly Sins" (3:56)
Deadly Sins is a concept album based on Mahatma Gandhi's seven deadly sins, which he said would destroy us. They are wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice and politics without principle. However, the concepts and storylines, while well written, don't become more important than the music, which is one problem I have with concept albums. Here Jack Frost and company offer another solid, heavy metal platter. Vocalist Alan Tecchio returns for his second record with Seven Witches and delivers yet another power-packed punch. Tecchio has a raw, aggressive voice, not unlike John Bush from Armored Saint. Alan can hit the high notes, yet he has that low, gutter metal sound as well. His style is quite different from that of James Rivera, who was a bit more "refined". Joey Vera of Armored Saint fame, played a part on this record as well, recording some of the bass parts and being involved with the mix and production. As such, "Deadly Sins" may well be the best produced of any Seven Witches release. I also think this might be the heaviest, and perhaps the most diverse, of the Seven Witches catalog. I can't say whether or not I like it better than past releases, as I haven't quite lived with this one long enough yet, but I can say that "Deadly Sins" is a very good traditional heavy metal album.