Seven Against Thebes (7AT) Debut Release – CD Review
A low growl pushes against your chest giving birth to a swirling sitar that empties unto a dark path as you enter the Temple of Doom. The sense of impending doom by some black shape is palpable. This black shape reveals itself as the debut full length release from Seattle’s own Seven Against Thebes (7AT) as the self-titled CD introductory track “Serpens Caput” plays.
Seven Against Thebes is a progressive metal band featuring Rusty on vocals, Cyrus Rhodes on guitar with Bruce Burgess and Mr. Black holding down the bottom end on drums and bass, respectively. Some have compared their sound to Seattle brethren Alice in Chains. Yes, early Alice in Chains influences are there. They have also drawn comparisons to Tool. Yes, there is some of that same abstractness to their sound.
Make no mistake. 7AT has a sound that is uniquely theirs. More complex and swirling than Alice in Chains in a way that gets in your head and draws you into their theater. Their story lines are more tangible (less weird?) than Tool while delivering a primordial drama. 7AT are a culmination of great hard and heavy prog bands, akin as much to Tool as Porcupine Tree and Yes and Rush and…
It would be a great travesty to have only heard the feature tracks on this recording. The singles are “Equilibrium”, “Nemisis” and “Swandiver”, but this CD is a cohesive unit that should be consumed in much the same way as many classic prog albums such as Rush’s Hemispheres or Dream Theater’s Train of Thought. The single “Equilibrium” has tribal drums and dizzying guitars. “Nemisis” is foreboding and atmospheric – delivering an emotional impact rarely found in pop songs. “Swandiver” kicks you in the teeth and gets tight in the groove – a song that is prayed for by mainstream radio listeners. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end with “Serpens Caput” and “Serpens Cauda” bookending what could very well be Frank Miller’s next epic graphic novel. Believe me? Check out the lyrics. (Click the serpent and scroll down.)
We’ve all heard the rumors of the demise of the music industry. Simply put, if the major labels would release albums with the production quality of this album, the rumor would be buried with Napster. 7AT has chosen not to participate in the loudness wars. In the process they have delivered an album that has a relativity wide dynamic range that lends itself to the raw emotional impact of their music and song. Listening from beginning to end is not fatiguing at moderately high volume levels which is rare treat for albums released over the past few years.
In the end, Seven Against Thebes has managed to record and release a CD that would appeal to most every progressive rock enthusiast while remaining accessible enough for other rockers. The songs are solid, delivered convincingly with a clear vision of primary song writer and producer Cyrus Rhodes. Exotic and distinctly modern.
Seven Against Thebes can be found at www.7AT.net where you can sample tracks from this release and download a copy of their impressive EP Equilibrium for free. You are encouraged to add this recording to your library.