Seventh Storm is the new band of Mike Gaspar, the former drummer of Portuguese gothic metal heavyweights, Moonspell. He announced their formation on the anniversary of the fall of the corporatist dictatorship in 1974 and hand-picked four younger musicians to help him realise his vision of an epic heavy metal unit that can conquer the seas. Pirate metal this is not, nor will you find an abundance of gothic serenades on this record, but you might find your fingers gripping at thin air and your hands brushing off an imaginary cape.
Nuclear Blast spin-off, Atomic Fire Records, showed no hesitation in signing Seventh Storm when they heard Gaspar’s demos, and you can see why they put their faith in him after one listen to opener, ‘Pirate’s Curse’. The unashamed power metal dynamics and the stadium posturing of the riffs give it a Manowar feel but with the respectability of Dream Theater. Indeed, vocalist, Rez, operates in a similar range to James LaBrie but in a lower register. His voice has no trouble holding onto the notes like a tiger grasping at a buffalo with sharpened claws. Listen to the hoarse throat strain as he bellows through the microphone like one of the iconic grunge greats. Behind him are the dual guitar attack of Ben Stockwell and Josh Riot, both keen to palm-mute their guitars as if shaking the ground with their instruments.
The heroic heavy metal of ‘Saudade’ is the one song Gaspar wants you to embrace as a universal emotion of longing, yet he loads it with the ammunition of a neo-classical thrash assault, like Annihilator’s classic debut but with a Fates Warning chorus. A glance at the duration of each song might demoralise you, but none of the tracks overstay their welcome despite their average length of six minutes. This is because Seventh Storm mix adrenaline and enchantment in equal measures. One moment you’re beating your chest, the next moment you’re allowing a gust of wind to blow through your chainmail. ‘Gods of Babylon’ and ‘Inferno Rising’ aim to sweep up as many admirers as possible from the metal spectrum. The former mixes Arabian scales and progressive structures; the latter aims for a celestial metal vibe like the debut album from Philosophobia but with Megadeth guitars. Gaspar states this his aim is to recall the innocence of the 1990s metal landscape, but this music feels rooted in the pomp and power of the 1980s. His drums pulsate in the mix like shifting tectonic plates waiting to produce a crumbling effect on the earth’s surfaces. Occasional blast beats and razor-sharp metallic syncopation remind you that you’re in the modern era. ‘My Redemption’ is the standout composition with its muscular rock vocals and scything guitar triplets cutting through your bones.
The enjoyment levels are not in doubt, but the faint traces of nostalgia and the decision to pivot the sound towards a stadium metal aesthetic are the only things that create reservations in your mind. At times, you feel as if you’re listening to the new album from Psychotic Waltz. Close your eyes and this could be any modern prog metal album on Inside Out Music with a cast of veterans who learned their trade in the late 1980s.
Whether Seventh Storm evolves from here as something more than a project for its famous creator remains to be seen, but this band have the tools and the passion to build a larger following over the next few years. Maledictus won’t leave your playlist any time soon.
Release Date: 12/08/2022
Record Label: Atomic Fire Records
Standout tracks: Pirate’s Curse, Gods of Babylon, My Redemption
Suggested Further Listening: Detritus – Myths (2021), Dream Theater – Train of Thought (2003), Green Carnation – Leaves of Yesteryear (2020)