I was hooked on 7 Months after about seven seconds. That was the point at which I realized this Los Angeles-based quintet wasn't an average melodic hard rock band. Indeed, Now & Then/Frontiers Records, one of Europe's finest labels, has diversified its previously AOR/MHR-heavy roster this year with several progressive-tinged acts, and 7 Months is among the best of their latest signings. With a sound that crosses Pink Cream 69, Extreme and latter-period Alan Parsons Project with Saga, Kansas and even Trans-Siberian Orchestra, 7 Months boast clear and soaring vocals, solid musicianship and strong arrangements that are free to roam but tight enough not to ramble.
Singer Joe Booe's voice sounds at home wrapped around all-out rockers, mid-tempo songs and ballads. Highlights include the opener "New Age," "Change," "Stay" and "The Night" (the first song the band wrote together). Many of the nine songs here begin softly and build, such as "Sometimes," which features an orchestral opening, and "Senorita Serenade," the epic closer that blends sounds of the sea into a piano melody line before Booe's elegant vocals begin moving the song toward its memorable chorus. Booe manages to coax everything he can from each note, leaving a huge opening into which the band can carry their music for the next album. It boggles the mind trying to figure out how these guys wrote four of the songs on this record during just two rehearsal sessions.
A couple tracks fail to elicit as much excitement as the rest of the songs on this album, but they're still too good to be considered filler. This ranks as one of the more promising debuts I've heard all year. By seamlessly melding genres, 7 Months prove that melodic hard rock need not sound formulaic to cynical listeners and that progressive rock need not be inaccessible to mainstream listeners. My biggest complaint: At 47 minutes, this disc just isn't long enough.