Seven Witches – Passage To The Other Side
2003, Noise Records
Pounding power metal in need of a little more magic…
Passage to the Other Side came as Seven Witches fourth full-length back in 2003. Since then they’ve churned out another five albums all while keeping the conveyor belt of members in motion. Despite this, Passage… is my first taste of Seven Witches: the flavours are familiar, and that’s no bad thing; but the thought of chewing over their considerable discography and ex-member register is about as appealing as a side-salad, so for now let’s focus on digesting the album at hand.
Power metal is the order of the day here, no keyboards, extra crunch and a healthy dash of classic, heavy metal. Opener Dance with the Dead’s slow build-up and the unexpected double bass drumming on Mental Messiah assert the album’s position on the powerful end of power metal, while tracks like Fever in the City appeal to fast, classic metal sensibilities. Moreover, the tracks are expertly executed, and the solid, albeit formulaic, writing is testament to the veteran status of original member, guitarist Jack Frost, combined with Joey Vera (Armoured Saint) on bass and the vocal talents of James Rivera.
In spite of this though, the majority of the tracks may be satisfying cuts of pure metallic goodness, but ultimately the record passes without commanding much attention. Along with the vocal cord stretching chorus of Mental Messiah, Johnny has one of the more memorable refrains, but as a whole the album is sparse on durable hooks, leaving the latter half passably average. Likewise, the inclusion of a cover of Def Leppard’s Wasted and the becoming-predictable, unnecessary long, ‘epic’ concluding track, not only add the cheese-factor, but render the last ten minutes even more superfluous.
The heavy, power metal sound is there, and if the song-writing could have supported an entire album as good as the metal celebration that is Mental Messiah, then Passage… could have been a classic; but unfortunately the progressively forgettable tracks relegate the album to the average zone (7/10).