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Seventh Wonder: Become

As reviewers, we sometimes build up a huge backlog of CDs for review. All of them warrant our full attention, and by definition most of them will be somewhat average. But occasionally there's a real gem hiding in the pile and it is the unexpected discovery of these that makes our job such a pleasure. And Seventh Wonder is one of those jewels.

It's probably accurate to call this 'progressive power metal'. All of the progressive elements are there, yet you'll also hear power metal's upbeat atmosphere, the multi-part choruses and the European influences. Become is the debut full studio album for the young Swedish quintet, and to hear the remarkably mature performances on this CD you'd swear they'd been around for decades. Every band member's delivery is masterful, but special mention goes to guitarist Johan Liefvendahl whose technical but very melodic arpeggios and solos recall a younger Luca Turilli.

"What I've Become" is probably the best track on the CD, more overtly progressive than the rest with solid songwriting and complex structures, interesting meters and huge changes in tempo, and it is an emotional rollercoaster. At nearly 9 minutes it plays like a mini epic and represents the band's smooth, competently progressive capabilities. Some versions of the CD have 9 tracks, with the final (bonus) piece as an acoustic reprise of the first song, played in the format of an appealing power ballad. Programming your system to play these two songs back-to-back yields a rewarding listen, and they are a good showcase for the band's songwriting prowess.

There's nothing new here. You've heard it all before from the elder statesmen of the genre - like Dream Theater, Vanden Plas, Symphony X, Sieges Even and Royal Hunt. But Seventh Wonder has taken these influences, modernized them and stamped their own personality on them - and the result is a tremendously capable, extremely melodic body of work that will have you coming back for more.

Leaving the best for last - special mention goes to frontman Andi Kravljaca. His delivery isn't as powerful as the best in the genre, but he has wonderful range, an easy, warm tone, and he effortlessly injects rich emotion into each song. Kravljaca's singing is at the heart of this record's success, yet sadly he is no longer with the band. His replacement will have huge boots to fill and it will be interesting to see how Seventh Wonder's music changes as a result. Regardless of the future, though, Become is a definite contender for the top-20-of-2005 list.

Now to dig into the rest of that backlog of review CDs - perhaps there'll be another gem hiding in there!

Track Listing:
1 Day by Day (3:54)
2 Like Him (5:30)
3 The Damned (4:32)
4 Temple In The Storm (6:17)
5 Blinding My Eyes (3:50)
6 The Secret (4;15)
7 What I've Become (8:41)
8 In The Blink Of An Eye (7:37)
9 Bonus Track (6:24)

Added: June 10th 2007
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Related Link: Seventh Wonder's Web Site
Hits: 6778
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Seventh Wonder: Become
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-06-10 07:29:12
My Score:

Swedish melodic progressive metal band Seventh Wonder released their debut album, Become, in 2005, and while the CD was a good effort, especially for a first album, it didn't get the attention of many fans. It wasn't until their second album Waiting in the Wings came out that people began to take notice of this great band, as that album hints at their tremendous potential and what these guys are truly capable of.

Become is in many ways a good album, but it does lack in production at times. The lack of consistency is quite apparent, given some truly uplifting cuts are side by side with less than stellar pieces which could have been further developed. Primarily driven by guitarist Johan Liefvendahl, keyboardist Andreas Soderin, and bassist Andreas Blomqvist, Seventh Wonder writes songs that are equal parts prog, neoclassical, and melodic metal. The album opener "Day by Day", also the very first song they ever wrote five years before the release of this disc, is a strongly developed cut, centred around classically themed guitar arpeggios, smooth keyboards, and powerful vocals. Vocalist Andi Kravljaca's delivery is in a similar mould to Goran Edman and Michael Eriksen, and he is a very fitting element to this album. However, shortly after the recording of this album, he was replaced by current singer Tommy Karevik, also a great singer and one of the factors why their sophomore album is such a success.

Highlights of this debut include the terrific guitar and keyboard duel of "Like Him", a midtempo song featuring a crystal clear guitar solo and solid drum sound. This is no surprise considering the engineering was done by none other than Daniel Flores, among Sweden's most hardworking drummers and sound engineers. Also worth mentioning is Blomqvist's pronounced bass lines throughout the whole CD -- it is certainly great to hear the bass so vividly through the entire record, something terribly missing on many a prog band's albums. The neoclassical shred of "Damned" evokes Yngwie Malmsteen, particularly taking into account the straightforward double bass drumming, but there is some cool riffery present as well. I, however, favour the slightly fusiony touch of "Temple in the Storm", which is a darker song with Journey-like arrangements and a beautiful acoustic guitar part. The ending of the song is sadly underdeveloped, however. The chorus is repeated simply too many times and the fade-out ending doesn't do the song justice.

Without doubt, the most complete song on this disc is "What I've Become", hinting at the band's more refined songwriting on their next record. Nearing nine minutes, it begins with spoken vocals in a different language and then picks up classical orchestrations underlying gorgeous sweep guitar melodies wrung through odd-metered soundscapes. This was actually the very last song the band wrote, and everything about it suggests a sense of growth and maturity, further explored on the second disc. The European version of the CD contains a bonus track, but I wouldn't consider it essential by any means.

Become was a remarkable start for Seventh Wonder; it's an album fans of Dream Theater, Kamelot, Circus Maximus, and Royal Hunt may enjoy, all for different reasons. From interesting classical sections to challenging instrumental parts to AOR-like vocals that also have no problem doing the high-pitched wailing, this disc definitely deserves more attention it has so far received.

» Reader Comments:

Seventh Wonder: Become
Posted by stefan on 2006-01-13 06:19:53
My Score:

"Become" is indeed a work of art!!! And I am allready longing for the next album!!!! I think it is going to be a great one!! "What I`ve become" is the best song on the album!!

Seventh Wonder: Become
Posted by Anonymous on 2005-11-17 05:53:53
My Score:

This is the best thing Ive heard for a long time!!
My favourite track is In the blink of an eye. It really blew me away..
Looks like Dream Theater and Symphony X got an opponent in the progressive genre.
Buy it, love it...

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