There are ten thunders in The Wake:
The seventh thunder is Tribal Man Again.
So proclaims Triumph's seventh studio album. The numeral VII generally represents perfection; is that what this hard rockin' Canadian trio achieved? Let's say the guys got pretty darned close—this new Millennium remaster from Metalworks Studios & drummer-producer and one-time Triumph vocalist Gil Moore swear by it! Thunder Seven was Triumph's first with MCA following a particularly nasty debacle with RCA where royalties and other elements of the music business are concerned; it's also a bit of a concept album—this is best explained in the 1985 tourbook, from which the text is reproduced at the top of this page.
T7, as we shall refer to it, blasts off with the powerhouse toe-tapper "Spellbound," sung by Moore. A rowdy one with lots of attitude, it possesses a certain something the band was never able to reproduce live (the mangled version on A Night Of Triumph Live is disheartening). Guitarist Rik Emmett's granite-dense chords clang away brutally, and his solo (as did all of his) reminded that Eddie Van Halen wasn't the only guy to incite air guitar rituals. "Rock Out, Roll On" turns the mic over to Emmett; it's a lower key (figuratively and literally) number that has a spectral air about it, and not necessarily because of the first line. "Cool Down" turned out to be very memorable with its retro vibe and Plant-esque vocal; one won't find Emmett's acoustic guitar work less than savory. "Follow Your Heart" is another Moore song, friendly finger-snapping fare trimmed to shape for FM airplay. It's well-constructed but turns out to be the album's low point.
The second half of T7 comes across as more visibly "conceptual," for good reason. "Time Goes By" effects a mood no other tune on the album can replicate. Lyrically and instrumentally, the song isn't a complex one, but is one of Triumph's most enduring and a common favorite among fans—not to mention it sports the best intro on the platter. In a semi-perfect world, "Time Goes By" would have ruled the airwaves along with "I'll Wait," "Perfect Strangers," and "Distant Early Warning" that same year of 1984. Emmett's lead vocal is outstanding, and the harmonies by he and Moore, super. Moore even seems to hold back just a little, playing more "in the pocket," so to say, though he hits his crash cymbal a bit often during the subtler verses. Emmett's guitar solo seems less inventive compared to the rest, and yet it fits snugly into the sonorous scheme like a Lego piece; parts of the solo may have been recorded (or notes layered) with the Roland guitar synth Emmett began using during the T7 sessions—and what a beautiful tone! Lest bassman Mike Levine be left out, his presence is integral to the song's slightly cerebral gleam.
Emmett's solo instrumental is "Midsummer's Daydream"—on certain days, it seems perfectly placed after "Time Goes By," on other days perhaps it should have followed "Cool Down." The a cappella "Time Canon" was another first for Triumph, and better heard than discussed. It's pulled off without a hitch (though the shorter version was chosen) thanks to the reservoir of vocal power afforded this trio. "Time Canon" transitions into the doleful "Killing Time," sung by both Emmett and Moore (which they should have done more often)—another that should have enjoyed a radio presence. Everyone will identify with its pensive text. The Emmett-penned "Stranger In A Strange Land" is a real curve ball, a sleeper track for the true fan. Moore's drumming is tethered (which fits the song), Levine's bass tone gains considerable mass, and the lyrics, ripe with allegory, are anything but what one would expect from a Triumph song (too bad no live versions seem to exist). Yet another plus for Side B, as it used to be called. T7's closer is the best instrumental the guys ever recorded, Emmett's prized acoustic interludes notwithstanding. A bluesy thematic piece that comes across as a "dirge-ballad," "Little Boy Blues" was actually inspired by the idea of prospective fatherhood. Seldom has Emmett wrung more expression from a pentatonic scale and a few vibrating strings. A powerful track that more people ought to know of!
There are ten thunders in The Wake…
2. Rock Out, Roll On
3. Cool Down
4. Follow Your Heart
5. Time Goes By
6. Midsummer's Daydream (Instrumental)
7. Time Canon
8. Killing Time
9. Stranger In A Strange Land
10. Little Boy Blues (Instrumental)
Total time – 41:26