Seven Kingdoms – The Fire Is Mine

September 24, 2012 in Reviews by Kylie

Seven Kingdoms
The Fire Is Mine
2012

Like many metalheads, I instantly became a fan of Florida’s Seven Kingdoms after seeing them open for Blind Guardian back in 2010. The band presents a mix of power-thrash that harkens back to Iced Earth’s Night Of The Stormrider with a different take on female-fronted metal. Sabrina Valentine sings more in the lower-midrange than the typical mezzo-soprano of a Tarja Turunen or Simone Simons. It worked on their 2010 self-titled album, and it works even better on their third album, 2012’s The Fire Is Mine (more importantly, this album is MINE!).

Right off the bat (well, after a bit of a Nightfall In Middle-Earth styled intro), guitarists Camden Cruz and Kevin Byrd show that they intend to throw as much guitar work in your face as possible. There’s a noticeable increase in guitar solos from their first two releases, giving this a feel slightly closer to Megadeth’s Rust In Peace without actually being an overtly thrash album. The relentless riffing is still the most prominent feature.

After The Fall” kicks the album off with a bang. It’s much more Gamma Ray than anything else (yeah, like that’s a bad thing), being more straightforward power/speed metal, and is easily the catchiest song here. Having about a dozen guitar solos doesn’t hurt, either.

So, did Seven Kingdoms take out their thrashy riffs? Nope. “Forever Brave” brings a bit more attitude to the table, with galloping guitar lines that stampede like Iron Maiden on the mother of all caffeine buzzes. I also love the guitar melody during the chorus; this is one of those “epic moments” on the album. More great guitar solos here. Okay…so this would be like the ultimate mashup of Iced Earth and DragonForce (in a good way). Great soaring, feel-good vocals, shredding solos, and chunky riffage. I think it was about this point on my initial listen that my wrist started to get sore from excessive air guitar.

Need a breather? Pfft, poser. You get the…ahem…seventh track stretch in a bit with “Kardia.” “Flame Of Olympus” is more great power-thrash, followed by the more melodic power metal of “Symphony Of Stars.” Nah, they’re not taking the way-back machine to Finland in 2000, but there is that feel of a mid-tempo “Full Moon” (Sonata Arctica) or “Stargazers” (Nightwish) with that uber-catchy chorus-based song structure, and a bit of gratuitous double bass and drum fills (Keith Byrd has some nasty chops behind the kit).

The title track is more mid-tempo power metal that climaxes with more killer solos from Cruz and Byrd. It takes a bit to get going, but once the solos hit and the song codas to the chorus, it’s well worth it.

Kardia” is the token acoustic ballad, and is a nice touching interlude leading into the best part of the album. “Fragile Minds Collapse” is the closest The Fire Is Mine gets to pure thrash, with way more bass in the mix than the rest of the album, which serves as a great counterpoint to Sabrina’s more subtle and airy vocals on the track.

In The Twisted Twilight” opens with a nice mid-tempo guitar melody before going into a melodic thrash riff for the verse and a beautiful chorus. However, the best part is the guitar break for the last two minutes. Killer leads and even more lethal soloing can be found here. This is my favorite moment on the album.

After another spoken-word interlude, we’re treated to the absolutely epic “The King In The North.” Similar to the title track of their last album (I wanted to avoid the obvious “Seven Kingdoms” off of Seven Kingdoms’ Seven Kingdoms…or did I?), it’s loaded with some wicked fast galloping riffs building up to a monstrous chorus. After a bit of a slow-down, the band throws in a bit of mid-tempo soloing and another furious guitar break before wrapping it up with the superb chorus.

So folks (Jon Schaffer, I’m looking at you. Directly. And I mean it.), this is how you do power-thrash. Seven Kingdoms has managed to greatly improve their art, coupling tighter thunderous riffing with soaring guitar leads, majestic vocals and manic drumming. This gets my nod for album of the year, and I’m struggling with rating this using my head, knowing that a perfect 5 should be reserved for albums that have stood the test of time, but at the same time, my heart says, “GIVE IT A 5 YOU MORON AND LISTEN ANOTHER THREE DOZEN TIMES!” Alas, the inner professional needs to serve as the voice of reason here. I’m still blown away, and there is not enough praise to give this album.

 Kylie’s Official Voice of Reason’s rating: 4.75 out of 5 (which could jump to a 5 after some serious contemplation and far more objective analysis)

Kylie’s Inner Fangirl’s rating: 5 piercing shrieks of passionate joy out of 5