First Roar From 20 Dark Seven

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“Roar” is the debut album by the new German/Dutch hot “supergroup” 20 Dark Seven released in late 2014 on Metalopolis records. These guys are no strangers to the stage or the heavy metal/hard rock scene. Supergroups seem to be the fashion of the day with bands like Level 10, Sweet & Lynch and Serious Black showing up everywhere! 20 Dark Seven is made up of four veteran hard rockers, vocalist extraordinaire Marcus Jürgens (ex-Brainstorm, ex-Pump), guitar wizard Peter Wagner (ex-Wicked Temptation, ex-Piledriver), bass man Alex Jansen (Fox, ex-Mennen) and skin basher Hans In´t Zandt (ex-Vengeance, ex-Mad Max, ex-Bangalore Choire,  Praying Mantis). 

Picture courtesy of 20 Dark Seven Facebook

The band started out in January 2013 in Karlsruhe and Dortmund, Germany, with Jürgens teaming up with Wagner and originally two other former Pump members were part of the original band; drummer Achim Keller and bass player Stephan Bürk. Both soon left due to work commitments and other musical projects meaning they could not put in the time and effort the new band demanded and needed. Jürgens and Wagner started to search for a new rhythm section and soon found Fox bass man Alex Jansen and  Dutch drummer Hans In´t Zandt who were ready to take on the challenge. The German/Dutch quartet soon started to record their debut album titled Roar which was mixed by Achim Köhler at Indiscreet Audio. A deal was struck with indie label Megalopolis records and this album saw the light of day in October of 2014.

Track By Track Comments:

The album starts off in fine style with fast paced heavy rocker ”Do You Like The Dark” which has a really catchy chorus, some nice guitar playing from Wagner and solid rhythm section building up this song. Lyrically it´s about taking revenge in the dark. Second song is called ”Come Undone” and starts off with a cool guitar riff from Wagner that reminds me of Judas Priest ”Heading Out To The Highway”, although it is not completely the same the similarities are there. It continues with a melodic verse where Jürgens shows his skills and erupts in a cool chorus line. A great and surprising start to this debut album. The song is about waking up hungover and looking back on your failures and how you tried hard. Third song is ”Heart Of A Lion” (Lionsheart LOL!). It starts off with a slow guitar solo which quickly turns into some really heavy riffing from Wagner and by far the heaviest song this far. Wagner really shines on this song with some nice twists and turns on the guitar. Again a very melodic and memorable chorus sung by Jürgens with a choir backing him up. The theme of the song is the adrenaline rush before a fight and trying to catch fame and fortune. Three really strong songs are firing this disc off in a great manner. Fourth 
 

Courtesy of 20 Dark 7 Facebook
space on this disc is occupied by ”So Damn Insane” which starts with another guitar intro by Wagner and changes shape into a mid-paced rocker but not having the strong chorus of the previous songs, it´s maybe the weakest song this far. A good song with a  nice guitar solo but nothing that really stands out. Now ”Killing With Kindness” (odd song title) follows suit and in the now established style it starts with a slow guitar intro that yet again turns into another mid-paced and heavy rock song. This is a really strong song and one of my favourites on the album. A nice bridge leading up to a memorable and very melodic chorus line that sticks in your head for a while. Definitely one of the highlights on this album. The lyrics deal with some people being nice on the surface hiding what’s below. Up next is ”Edge Of A Knife” with some very melodic vocals during the verses and another feel-good chorus line which continues on in the same vein as the previous song. A nice guitar solo from Wagner with a great vibrato. A regular lyrical theme of a cold hearted woman finally reaping what she has sown.”You Don´t Know Me” starts with a heavy riff and a scream from Jürgens and continues with a pumping bassline and heavy drumming from Hans In´t Zandt. A heavy and aggressive rocker that sometimes reminds me of Dream Evil or even Jürgens previous band Brainstorm. An epic chorus line with some heavy riffing in the background builds up this song.  Up next is ”Stand Your Ground” which starts off  with a short intro and gives the impression from the start that we´re up for a power ballad but are then served the Wagner riffs again and a mid-paced rocker takes form with some additional nice tempo shifts. Lyrically it´s about standing your ground in a cold and harsh environment. We´re now moving towards the end of the album with ”Back In The Dirt” which is a gritty rocker with Jürgens being sick and tired” of being “Back In The Dirt!”. It´s another heavy, grooving, mid-paced rocker. The lyrics are filled with anger and frustration of things being the way they are in today´s world. That is also what I find the lyrical theme in general throughout the whole CD. The album ends with Jürgens screaming ”Man there will be “Hard Times Coming”!. With a pumping bass and a driving riff from Wagner, it´s a rather nice acquaintance. Another song showing the frustration of what the world has come to.

Summary:

If you are familiar with the member’s previous bands you will know what to expect from 20 Dark Seven. Here you will get 10 catchy, guitar-oriented hard rock tracks in the old school. You will get a ton of catchy riffs and hook-laden songs that is so typical of many German hard rock/metal bands. Jürgens personal voice is easily recognizable and the riffs from Wagner are as memorable as ever before.

I really dig this record that has some really nice riffs and very melodic playing from Wagner. Marcus Jürgens is great as always but compared to his latest band Pump the songs sound fresher, melodic and updated which makes this a really nice surprise. I realize we have a love or hate situation here. Either you love Jürgens vocals or you don´t. His raspy and somewhat rough vocals do not fit everyone. Vocally he sounds  similar to David Reece for example.  I know Jürgens from back in the days in Brainstorm in the late 1990s and I always thought the Pump records were a mixed affair.

I always wondered where Marcus Jürgens went and what happened to Pump but here we get the answer. The new outfit 20 Dark Seven is a really nice surprise. With few exceptions, you have some really strong songs on this album with both great guitar playing from Wagner and some really nice, memorable hooks and melodic chorus lines.  The first part of the album is a bit stronger than the second half. The album might have benefited from one or two faster songs and maybe the odd ballad to add some variation to the mix. Here you get 10 mid-tempo rockers. Still a strong debut that merits 7.5 out of 10 geeks in my book and it will be nice to follow the band in the future. If you are into hard rock with a melodic edge and some songs to sing along to in the shower then this one is for you. This is nothing groundbreaking (and certainly not meant to be either) but it´s a well-crafted album performed by top notch musicians. I hope they will bring this album out on the road.

The Lionsheart

20 DARK SEVEN on facebook

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