Seven Witches - Year Of The Witch
Traditional Heavy Metal
14 songs (41'54)
Release year: 2004
Seven Witches, Sanctuary
Reviewed by Marty
Jack Frost and Seven Witches are back with their fifth album and the revolving door of band members continues. The only remaining member from the last album Passage To The Other Side, besides guitarist Jack Frost, is lead vocalist James Rivera. Bassist Joey Vera (Fates Warning, Anthrax) still contributes to the writing of the band's material but is currently busy touring with Anthrax as well as fulfilling his duties to Fates Warning. Filling in on bass guitar this time is Dennis Hayes (Winter's Bane). Craig Anderson, a session drummer was used for the recording of this album but Jeff Curanton has since been brought on board as the band's new full-time drummer.

With any Seven Witches album, there are very few surprises. The band still plays a very traditional U.S. styled power metal that pays homage to some of the greats of the 80's namely Judas Priest and Accept. This whole album is a virtual fist-pumping riff-fest with some great "meaty" and interesting riff patterns. The album opens with Metal Asylum, an ode to the metal masters of yesteryear. The band mentions everyone from Maiden, Motorhead and Priest to Sabbath, Deep Purple and Uriah Heep. James Rivera even throws in some great "I love you all" and "Scream for me Long Beach!" parodies of Ozzy and Bruce Dickinson. Just about every important metal band is mentioned in this song. The riffs are solid and James' vocals makes you believe that he must've been a candidate to fill the vocalist position in Judas Priest that was eventually given to Tim (Ripper) Owens. The rest of the first five songs use a variety of styles from stuttering and galloping beats (Year Of The Witch) to a faster old Saxon style (Fires Below). A charged up Children Of The Grave riff style graces the track Cries Of The Living and a mix of quiet and heavier segments with alternating clean and heavy guitar parts are heard on Can't Find My Way. If You Were God is more of a "character" track and has a different feel than the rest of the album. The sound, the riffs and James voice are amazing here with the first 6 songs but some of the choruses and overall quality of songwriting just doesn't quite click.

One surprise with this album is the band's decision to jump on board the current epic rock opera fad and provide us with an 8 part epic to finish the album. Telling the story of "Jacob", we are presented with an 8 part epic that actually only has four real songs with the rest being short narratives. It all has a sort of Sixth Sense or Poltergeist feel to the story and the narratives repeating the characters name and using such phrases as "walk to the light" gives it a somewhat cheesy "flavor". Other than that, it's in this eight part epic that you will find most of the best moments of this album. The Voice Of Jacob, Haunting Dreams, Circles and The Prophet is You are all overall much better quality songs than what's found on the first part of the album and Haunting Dreams even features some classic Accept style guitar riffing. Not only is the quality better, the choruses to the songs are stronger here as well; something I found to be lacking for the rest of the album. If it wasn't for the last half of the album, the "Jacob" epic, I would pass this off as just another average heavy metal album.

Although not quite as good as some of the band's past offerings, this is a great sounding album that sounds phenomenal blasting out of your car CD player. It's too bad that some of the great riffs and James' vocals couldn't have gelled better on some of the tracks. His voice is amazing but the overall quality of the vocal phrasing and choruses just doesn't click on more than a couple of tracks. Great pounding and ripping guitar riffs with very piercing Halford-like vocals are not the only ingredients in making great heavy metal. Although they often cover up for shortcomings in songwriting, the longevity of stuff like this is cemented by just simply having a great song there as well. I loved all of this album on the first couple of listens but mainly because of the sound of it and not necessarily the quality of the songs. On repeated listens, I found myself getting more critical of that aspect. Again, if it wasn't for the 8 part epic to finish the album, an album full of tracks like the first 6 on the album would only get a mediocre grade from my standpoint. Fans of the band are going to get exactly what they would expect with this new album. If you're not familiar with them and if you love classic, traditional 80's metal with a heavy Judas Priest influence, check them out for sure.

Killing Songs :
Fires Below, Voice Of Jacob and Haunting Dreams
Marty quoted 74 / 100
Other albums by Seven Witches that we have reviewed:
Seven Witches - Deadly Sins reviewed by Marty and quoted 80 /100
Seven Witches - Amped reviewed by Alex and quoted 66 / 100
Seven Witches - Passage to the Other Side reviewed by Jay and quoted 82 / 100
Seven Witches - Xiled To Infinity And One reviewed by Mike and quoted 85 / 100
Seven Witches - City Of Lost Souls reviewed by Chris and quoted 44 / 100
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