July 5, 2024

There are some bands that when it comes to stylistically pinning them down, it would be easier hitting a speeding car with a ping-pong ball. Encompassing a number of different sub-genres, Seven Spires is a blend of gothic, progressive, melodic death with hints of black metal but wrapped in a symphonic halo. It may be somewhat cliché to describe any album as a ‘journey’ but with a focus on concept albums, there is more than a justified element of truth when it comes to this intriguing band.

Formed by main songwriters Jack Kosto and Adrienne Cowan in 2013, it has been a steady build up for Seven Spires. Following the release of their debut EP the band released their first full length Solveig in 2017 before signing to Frontiers Music to release their Emerald Seas album in 2020, and Gods of Debauchery in 2021.

Photo by Doğa Somer

While each of Seven Spires’ albums is different, paradoxically, they are also retain a signature sound and A Fortress Called Home does continue the trend. There is an immediate advantage over the new album versus the previous one – it is far snappier in its overall running time, Gods Of Debauchery, as much as a class album it is – and in fairness, it was a ‘pandemic’ album – it is very long as a listening experience and somewhat a trial to get through its entirety.

Beyond the delightfully theatrical title track intro, there is much to enjoy and savour on  A Fortress Called Home. With writing that is full of detail and depth, it is an album that is not short of emotional quagmires – and check out the almost jazzy rhythm to Love’s Souvenir – this is a band that avoids the cheap-shot hook and instead dwells in dusty corners and places that are not always easy to reach. The point here is – keep digging. And that is something that stands out on not just on A Fortress Called Home but Seven Spires’ albums in general, there are portions of ‘instant’ but, the band plays the long game in their world opening up to the listener – Seven Spires use their multi-genre bending to their advantage and creates soundscapes that effortlessly jump between and  leaving a sonic chem-trail that is impossible not to follow.

It is not easy to pick out that “standout” track because hey, what mood, y’all in today? Songs Upon Wine Stained Tongues with its luscious symphonic and orchestral base and those melodious vocals? Love’s Souvenir or The Old Hurt Of Being Left Behind, two very different heartfelt tracks; the black metal tinged Architect of Creation, with Cowan’s soaring highs mixing with her harshest depths and some seriously impressive drumming from former skinsman Chris Dovas and Portrait Of Us as a relatively straightforward track that has the instrumentation further back to allow Cowan’s vocals to be forefront – until the burst of black hits in the final moment just as a reminder that the darkness still prevails.

Photo by Doğa Somer

Cowan is something of a masterclass in general, not just responsible for both the clean and harsh vocals but songwriting, keyboards and orchestration. Likewise Jack Kosto brings much to the party with interesting solos – plus handles the production while Peter De Reyna’s bass is excellent throughout the album but there are not many moments that brings him into the glare of the spotlight.

There is very little to gripe about on A Fortress Called Home, clearly Seven Spires is a talented band that uses music training to bring forth material that is actually worthy of being called symphonic. Sure, not every band is Metallica or Opeth or even Blind Guardian and can bring in a real orchestra and it takes skill to make orchestration sound like something when it is not real but when that mournful violin on Love’s Souvenir is real and even for its short appearance, it added heft to the song. If Seven Spires is indeed looking for that next level then more of these elements combined with their experience and talent will truly bring greatness to band whose tree is beginning to bear fruit.

A Fortress Called Home  is not an instant fix by any means and even at its shorter running time is still an investment – but be warned – the treasure will only be revealed with multiple attempts to plunder it.

A Fortress Called Home is out now on Frontiers Music.