SEVENTH KEY – I Will Survive (2013)
Melodic Hard Rock fans have been waiting a long time for this: “I Will Survive”, the new CD by SEVENTH KEY, the first album of studio recordings from the band since 2004 to be released on Frontiers Records next Monday.
So why should you care about the return of Seventh Key? Well, anyone who took a passing interest in the hugely underrated act Streets (both reissues featured here not so long ago) featuring Steve Walsh of Kansas, Mike Slamer of City Boy and Billy Greer should already be well aware that Slamer & Greer are the driving forces behind Seventh Key.
Terry Brock of Strangeways fame plays a lesser role than before (he has previously been guitarist and backing vocalist), merely backing up Greer’s excellent lead vocals, but at least he is still involved. Since the days of Streets, Greer too has been an ongoing member of Kansas, so it should come as no surprise that there are musical links between this band and that one.
Huge keyboard bursts abound, layers of luscious vocals ooze into the memory, while the overall vibe is melodic, with a hint of American Prog.
But Seventh Key are a weightier beast than Greer’s main band, more fiery in the guitar department – after all Slamer has to be the best kept secret in Rock of any description – more thunderous in the drum area (Chet Wynd handling that aspect superbly) more bombastic through Slamer’s keyboards and Greer’s rangy bass work. However with David Ragsdale, also of Kansas adding violin on occasion, the similarity is more than passing.
All that said, as with the previous two Seventh Key studio releases (the self titled debut hit the shelves in 2001), the obvious influences are possibly what Streets might have gone on to become had they stayed the course, a more foot to the floor AOR vibe, or exuberant Melodic Rock atmosphere being the order of the day.
Well that and strong choruses that you want to sing along with immediately, which is always a good thing. “I See You There” is a prime example, keyboards breathing life into a song packed with classy guitar touches and stunning vocals, while Slamer moves further into the spotlight on “It’s Just A State Of Mind”. Although only a guitar player of this class could be capable of firing through all of the flicks and tricks he does on this song without ruining or even over dominating his surroundings.
And so it goes through the surging “Love Sets You Free”, the atmospheric build of “Down” or the beautiful violin, piano and voice led “What’s Love Supposed To Be” which morphs into another groove-fest, making for an album that stands up superbly to repeat visits, revealing its true class and stature as it does so.
If you loved the two superb first albums from Seventh Key, you should be thrilled by this new opus “I Will Survive” as they managed to keep exactly the same flame, the same excellence in the harmony profusion and the same ultra-catchy richness in the abundance of sing-along chorus.
But here everything is exposed in the noblest way, no cheap gimmick, no easy trick, instead we have plenty of refined and sophisticated melodies with some beautiful ambiances, the whole uplifted by an absolute mastery and agility in the instrumental execution.
Mike Slamer is a superb six-string player but is even more renowned as a producer, so you can hope for an expert realization; it’s exactly what its like: a masterpiece, an Art-crafted product with an unblemished sound to add with the numerous asset of this irreproachable disc.
For those who still don’t know the band, you can expect a pure load of ear orgasmic pleasure, the pure AOR class of bands like Giant with the Pomp smartness of Saga embellished by some superb vocals in the Kansas / Streets tradition.
Top Class album, one of the best of year without a doubt.
01. I Will Survive
02. Lay In On The Line
03. I See You There
04. It’s Just A State Of Mind
05. Sea Of Dreams
06. Time And Time Again
07. When Love Sets You Free
09. The Only One
10. What Love’s Supposed To Be
11. I Want It All
Billy Greer (bass, vocals)
Mike Slamer (guitar, keyboards)
Chet Wynd (drums)
David Ragsdale (violin)
Billy Trudel (backing vocals)
Terry Brock (backing vocals)
Bobby Capps (backing vocals)
Barry “The Blade” Johnson (backing vocals)
David Manion (keyboards)