SEVEN SISTERS – The Cauldron and the Cross (Album Review)

Seven Sisters hails from London, UK, and consists of four hard rockers in Kyle McNeill on vocals and guitar, Graeme Farmer on guitar, Javi Rute on bass and Steve Loftin bashing the skins.

Having formed in 2013 this quartet form a unit performing the highest quality New Wave of British Heavy Metal inspired music you could hope to hear. They do not, however, just pump out NWoBHM in its basic form, but add their own layers of rock, thrash, and prog. An eclectic mix indeed, but you really cannot see the join…..

The Cauldron and the Cross is the follow-up to Seven Sisters’ self-titled 2016 debut and, as with their first offering, is a concept album. But let’s not hold that against them and in this case, the concept is based on The Mists of Avalon, Martin Zimmer Bradley’s 1983 retelling of Arthurian legend. If you ever fancy creating a rock/prog concept album then the legend of King Arthur will always be a good place to start.

Seven Sisters get out of the traps sharply with the thrashiest of thrashy intros on “The Premonition”. It’s got power and pace aplenty and often reminded me of DragonForce (pick any track you like). A rocking start which also showcases the talents of the guitarists on show.

Things calm down a touch on “Blood and Fire”, which I suspect vocalist McNeill was hugely grateful for. This track could have easily been plucked out of early 80’s UK NWoBHM in its pomp and parachuted straight onto this album. It’s got all the constituent parts you’d expect, with twin leads, romping riffs and vocals as strong and smooth as you like. Great power and emotion is present and has solos Dave Murray would be proud of. It also possesses a cracking rhythm which you can’t help but get drawn into.

With “Once and Future King” comes the first hint, but only a hint, of more proggy things to come. Lots of storytelling and quite wordy, but still maintaining the pace and, naturally, a quality solo is in attendance.

“Parting the Mists” starts with a great catchy riff before turning into romp mode and drinking from the NWoBHM well once again. This time, however, the vocals are crisp and pure bringing the song alive. The bridge is classic early 80’s with extended riffing before driving us into the solo. Check out this song below.

More quality twin lead riffing opens “Turning of the Tide” and by now I’m left in no doubt that Seven Sisters are no “don’t bore us, get to the chorus” type band. Each track on The Cauldron and the Cross tells a story and McNeill has to be with it 100% of the time. This song is a rollercoaster of a track, at first rampaging, then going all coy and emotional then blasting with top-drawer solos. A mighty track indeed.

In another world, “Oathbreaker” may be called a power ballad but I severely doubt they view this track as such. Another song, another story, full of emotion and without sounding like a broken record, another top-notch solo. If you don’t feel like screaming along with this song then you have no soul.

“A Land In Darkness” cannot help but invoke the glory days of Iron Maiden. Galloping riffs open proceedings, are present throughout, and finish this fast-paced corker.

Now for the big finish where we are presented with two title tracks, Parts 1 and 2.

Seven Sisters are fully in their element now and let themselves run free on these two tracks. Beautiful riffs abound, solos are brilliant and plentiful and the vocals on point.

“The Cauldron and the Cross Part II” is the more progressive of the closing two songs. A quiet opening leading to screaming riffs getting things going and with any almost 9-minute song, there’s plenty of room to explore everything.

Overall, this is a superb album full of great rhythm, vocals, and guitar work. It’s difficult to see past the Maiden comparisons but they are so much more than that. In my opinion, if Saracen did metal then this would be the result and in my head, that is high praise indeed.

BUY: THE CAULDRON AND THE CROSS

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