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Seventh Wonder - "The Great Escape" (CD)

Seventh Wonder - "The Great Escape" CD cover image

"The Great Escape" track listing:

1. Wiseman (5:45)
2. Alley Cat (6:08)
3. The Angelmaker (8:32)
4. King Of Whitewater (7:39)
5. Long Way Home (4:25)
6. Move On Through (5:07)
7. The Great Escape (30:22)

Reviewed by on January 13, 2011

"Featuring a self-titled closer that crosses the 30-minute mark, Seventh Wonder doesn’t restrain themselves, cutting free of any preconceived notions or stagnant formulas."

For every band, an opportunity arises to take a gargantuan leap of faith. Whether it’s breaking the sophomore slump or attempting something most consider impossible, it only takes one album to define a band for years to come. That moment has come for Sweden's progressive metal act Seventh Wonder with the ambitious “The Great Escape.” Featuring a self-titled closer that crosses the 30-minute mark, Seventh Wonder doesn’t restrain themselves, cutting free of any preconceived notions or stagnant formulas. This freedom helps the band to spread their creative wings, though the flight isn’t without its bouts of turbulence.

The song fans of the genre will be talking about is the title track. Seventh Wonder has never before done a song over ten minutes long, let alone half-an-hour, and this inexperience shows. Split into 13 parts, the interweaving story has a large scale to it, but some of the latter parts seem like pieced-together sections of random song ideas. There are portions of solitary bliss, like the magnificent acoustic intro and a few wicked instrumentals, that makes the whole track worth an occasional listen. However, it can’t compare to similar modern ventures like Dream Theater’s “Octavarium” and Spock’s Beard's “The Great Nothing.” It’s a flawed opus that shows much effort was consumed in its creation.

None of the other songs are quite as pretentious, though a few are goofier than expected. “Alley Cat” is unintentionally hilarious, with its Dr. Seuss-like rhythm scheme (“Oh baby let me stay your alley cat/You're my wire to the light/And my spark here in the still of the night”). Ballad “Long Way Home” is as cheesy as metal can get, though some passionate female vocals bring a hint of class. This is the only attempt made at a slower song, a tempo that results in a lack of originality for Seventh Wonder.

The band seems unabashed with crafting progressive titans like “Wiseman” and “The Angelmaker.” The keys and guitars play in harmony, the bass follows alongside with precision, the drums pound away with finesse, and the vocals soar into the netherworld. It’s all a combination that has been overdone to death, yet there is a chemistry that rivals the best of the genre. These musicians gel off each other, and with the news that this is the last album with drummer Johnny Sandin at the helm, that may be affected on the next record.

“The Great Escape” is an album where you come for the title track, and stay for the other six. That’s not to say that these tracks are lukewarm leftovers or rushed; there are some fantastic songs that show all the emotional facets of the band. Even in the laughable material mentioned earlier, the catchy choruses are enough to look past the odd lyrics and power ballads. Seventh Wonder may be in over their heads at times, but they get by on the power of driving riffs and flashy, technical madness.

Highs: "Wiseman" and "The Angelmaker" are solid progressive metal tunes, band takes a lot of chances, instrumentally solid from top to bottom

Lows: Epic title track is flawed, laughable lyrics

Bottom line: Creative leap that shows the progressive metal act trying their hand at an experimental side, including a half-hour opus.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)