My first thought when I saw the name of this band was that it had to be some Power Metal band of sorts or some standard Metal band from Bumfuck, Nowhere. Kind of. I dunno, maybe some kinda prog-metal gang. Wrong. When I skimmed through the press-release it said: ”Melodic Rock for fans of H.E.A.T and One Desire” and a quick google showed me that names like Eclipse and Creye were mentioned when their name came up. Hmm, interesting. Further it stated that the band hails from Sweden and the members has day-jobs in other bands. Interesting again. What bands are we talking about, one might wonder.
So, here it goes. Seventh Crystal is the brain-child of singer Kristian Fyhr (Perpetual Etude) and joining him here are guitarist Emil Dornerus, bassist Olof Gadd (Osukuru), drummer Anton Roos and keyboarder Johan Älvsång (Pinstripe Conspiracy, Lamashtu). Ok. I’m sorry to say, but I have never heard of these guys or the bands they play in. On the other hand, that’s not necessarily a bad thing as I can take on their record with no expectations what so ever. Let’s see where this goes, shall we?
Opener and leading single ”Say What You Need To Say” takes on an uptempo groove and while it’s both slick and a bit glossy where AOR meets Melodic Rock, it do bring on a nice punchy beat which leads the tune towards Hard Rock. With some spot-on pop-hooks the chorus parks right in my brain with no intention to leave. Yeah, this is really good. ”When We Were Young” does exactly the same thing albeit on faster note. Sure, it holds some slick AORness but with a more prominent edge. It’s a straight-forward tune with some captivating melodies and even though the chorus takes on a slight melancholic mood, it’s still catchy as damn. Good stuff.
The third single of the album is ”Broken Mirror”, a dramatic and theatrical ballad with smooth as hell melodies all over the place. The verses are sparse and somber while the refrain takes on a more upbeat rhythm with a prominent hook, very catchy indeed. I really like how the guitars and keyboards goes together on an equal level but the downside is that the tune comes across as a pretty stereotype Scandi-AOR number. It’s a decent tune, though. The title-track takes on a somewhat quiet and sparse verse, very close to total balladry but heavies up in the pre-chorus with a ballsier outlook and more Hard Rock laden – it’s even quite pompous. The soundscape is bombastic and the chorus is nothing short of amazing with a hook so infectious it hurts. Great stuff.
”When I’m Gone” is a semi-ballad that takes on a slower tempo where the vocal-melodies are smooth and silky but it also contrasts with some poundy rhythms and a crunchy guitar-riff. The tune brings on a darker atmosphere and the piano that dwells in the background takes up the dynamics. The chorus is delicious and has a taste of a hit – very good indeed. ”Should’ve Known Better” is one of those pop-songs in a Rock disguise – or is it vice versa? Well, this tune is some kind of semi-ballad where the vocal melodies are smooth as silk which runs with a direct and straight ahead rhythm. The chorus is splendid and catches on by first listen with a big hit-potential, very radio-friendly – and I dig it.
More straight-forward AOR, ”So Beautiful” might comes across as a bit sweet where the overlying melodies are sugar-coated to the max but the bouncy drum-beat and the chunky guitars gives it a bit more of an edge. The chorus is massive with an infectious hook but at the same time very tasteful. Very good. Latest single ”Time To Let Go” is way edgier and with its fat riffage, raunchy rhythms and gritty guitar sound it takes a step into Classic Rock territory where 70’s Hard Rock and the bigger 80’s Melodic Rock hooks blends in the best of ways. It sure rocks in a crispy yet nuanced way where the chorus brings the whole she-bang home.
Another single, ”Deja-Vu” takes on a symphonic vibe. It’s a dramatic and theatrical number with some orchestration which creates a bigger soundscape for this slower-paced mix of AOR and pomp-rock piece. The verses are a bit more held-back and darker laden but the refrain really lifts and this could very well become a hit even though I don’t think it has this obvious, aiming for airplay kind of refrain. This is really, really good. ”Bright And Clear” is a full-on AOR number in a mid-pace that mixes a glossy arrangement with crunchy riffing and a stompy groove. There’s a fine, dynamic contrast between the held-back and sparse verses and the uplifting and catchy chorus and the dramatic outlook only adds to the dynamics. A Solid tune.
The album closes in a most downbeat way with the sombre and brittle ballad ”Hope It Will Be Alright”. The song begins in a very laid-back way with only vocals and a piano, very quiet yet at the same time there are some very dramatic arrangements inserted which also gives the tune some slight bombastic vibes. The cello that comes in for the solo – and remains for the rest of the song – makes the tune sound even more melancholic and pensive. It’s an emotional and even saddening song, very stripped and naked but also with melodies that goes under your skin. Very good indeed.
This is a really good record that lands somewhere in between AOR and Melodic Rock but what I like most about this album is that it doesn’t sound like every thirteen a dozen Scandinavian AOR-bands neither when it comes to song-structure, production or arrangements – Seventh Crystal do have their own identity, so thumbs up for that. On the down-side, there are some songs that really don’t stick and goes into filler mode and truth be told, the record could have been a bit more gritty and heavy – I especially feel that the guitars could have been louder in the mix. The performances here are all stellar and Fyhr has a strong and personal voice which also makes them stand out from the AOR mould that has creamed out AOR bands in an ever flowing stream in the last 10 years or so. Hopefully we will hear from this lot again.