REVIEW: Seven Thorns – Return To The Past

Thanks to Rock N’ Growl Promotion for setting me up with this album!

Band: Seven Thorns
Album: Return To The Past
Release: 2010
Label: Nightmare Records
Genre: Power metal

Spurning the recent trend of power metal bands mixing in other elements such as progressive or gothic touches, Danish sextet Seven Thorns announce their proper full-length début under their current lineup, Return To The Past, as “no bullshit, just pure power metal”. That gives a fairly solid idea already with regards to expectations, but it does nonetheless beg the question of whether a band can worship at the European power metal tri-altar of Helloween, Gamma Ray and Stratovarius while also retaining musical integrity and creating something catchy and yet with substance.

Quick out of the gates, lead single “Liberty” introduces the Seven Thorns sound as triumphant top-speed melodic metal, with founder Borup leading the way on his double-kick drums, closely followed by Tuxen and Strøjer on thunderous rhythm guitars, and Marker’s bass receded somewhere in the mix. The synth lines float around as per requirement, provided by Nielsen and guest Mikkel Henderson (Evil Masquerade), but standing front and center-stage is vocalist Blomkvist, with a slightly rougher voice than the pseudo-feminine style that many adopt nowadays. The formula recalls elements of Masterplan and Stratovarius, and perhaps unsurprisingly some At Vance (there’s a guest shred solo from Olaf Lenk himself), but the band don’t limit themselves to these authorities alone.

Other influences creep in along the way; of particular interest is the brass-aided Siège Perilous-era Kamelot feel of “End Of The Road”, particularly around the solo, while “Freedom Call” sounds like a blend of Gamma Ray and, well, Freedom Call. “Spread Your Wings” may well be a Queen reference, but not musically; instead being a blend of Iron Maiden and Hammerfall, with one of the rare high-pitched wails which Blomkvist emits. His voice, while hardly octave-stretching, complements the tracks well, and occasionally seem the only aspect that separates some of them. The rhythm guitar tracks in particular are a bit homogenous, particularly with “Countdown” and “Fires And Storms”. Conversely, “Through The Mirror” introduces some staccato riffing, along with a fun keyboard solo, even if the lyrics are quite predictable: “Why do I hide when I have the power inside”.

The band do have a couple of other aces up their sleeves, though. One of these is in the intro of “Forest Majesty”, an older track taken from a previous single, which commences gently with some relaxing wind instruments before the usual fanfare takes over. The second ace is in the solo work, echoing something of Niels Vejlyt, and is definitely to be commended, dominating the latter half of many a number. Surprisingly, the closer title track has very little to distinguish it from the rest of the album, except for a 10-second acoustic guitar break, but that doesn’t detract from it being a solid song.

Return To The Past is an accurate description of the band’s modus operandi, and a fitting tribute to the glory days of power metal, evoking many an oldschool outfit throughout the album. Seven Thorns are not setting out to rock the boat, but power metal addicts still have good cause to check this out. Connoisseurs will know the score already, but can still certainly join in on the jubilant choral sections and headbang alongside the newcomers to this genre, for whom Return To The Past is a fine starting point.

Rating: 7.5/10

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