Seven Kingdoms – Zenith Review

I first stumbled upon Seven Kingdoms with their third album, 2012s The Fire is Mine. It happened at a point where my tolerance for power metal was at a low ebb and I had mostly moved on to other styles. So good was the album that after one spin my appreciation for power was reignited and the fire was mine once again. There was so much energy and vibrancy to their sound and so many slick hooks, that it became a favorite platter I still return to. The sky seemed the limit for the band with such a mammoth release fresh on the shelves. Then they gave us a free clinic on how not to succeed by failing to follow up the album for five long years. 2017s Decennium had some great moments, but it was a considerable step down from The Fire, and looking back, I overrated it somewhat.1 Then the band once again went into no-gear and another five years have come and gone. Due to their spotty record of productivity, I came into Zenith less engaged and with decreased optimism, but to my surprise, the band sounds re-energized and looks to be back in the fight to seize the power throne for themselves. This makes me happy, and I hate being happy!

In what may be a first for power metal, there’s nary an intro. Instead, the band immediately launch into burly opening power bomb, “Diamond Handed” and lay all their cards on the table. Heavy, aggressive, and urgent, it sounds like a blend of Tower and vintage Hammerfall, and powerhouse front-woman Sabrina Valentine goes in for the kill with a huge performance. There’s a bit of 70s rock flair and even a taste of Voyager’s downtuned core proclivities accentuating the classic power metal structure and its gritty edge works like a charm. If you can sit through the whole song without raising a fist to the sky, get thee to a plague doctor. From there it’s one power punch after another. “A Silent Remedy” pairs crunchy riffs with Dark Tranquillity-style cold synths for a winning sound, and they even successfully plunder the depths of 80s hair metal on “Love Dagger” which reeks of Lita Ford and Vixen’s sickenly sweet radio-ready material.

There are a collection of killer cuts here, like “Univeral Terrestrial” which I simply cannot stop spinning. It has everything I want in a power metal song and it takes pains to keep things heavy and modern without forsaking the olden ways. “The Water Dance” is like a collaboration between Triosphere and Voyager and that’s a guaranteed ticket to glory and wictory. “Magic in the Mist” sounds like it belongs on The Fire is Mine with its regal, rocking, and epic attack that touches on Edenbridge while keeping things heavy. There are no weak songs, though closer “Life Signs” feels a little nondescript by comparison to the bigger moments, and power ballad “Valonqar” is effective but one-note. They include a pointless cover of Joan Jett’s “I Hate Myself for Loving You” which really only succeeds in pulling you out of the epic and magical mood the album carefully constructs over its runtime. This isn’t the best way to conclude a killer release and it adds no value whatsoever. Even with the cover, Zenith is a tight 43 minutes with most songs in the 3-4 minutes range, assuring everything hits hard and leaves fast. This is The Way.

As ever, Seven Kingdoms live and die by the charm and ability of Sabrina Valentine and that’s not a bad bet to make. She’s a truly gifted vocalist with a broad range and real power to her delivery, and over the course of Zenith, she shows us again and again just how powerful she can be. She injects real emotion into her vocal lines and sells the songs like fresh-baked cookies outside a Weight Watchers convention, and there’s more grit and edge in her style now too, which adds to the overall heaviness factor. She takes high-quality songs like “Universal Terrestrial” into the realms of greatness and elevates everything she touches. Kevin Bryd and Camden Cruz compliment her ably with slick guitar work while never forgetting to keep things crunchy and a wee bit dirty at times. These cats can wail and have chops aplenty. There’s also a powerful bass presence, but no one is credited with the performance. Talent abounds.

Seven Kingdoms have clawed their way back to the top with the appropriately named Zenith, giving power metal fans exactly what they want. It may not top The Fire is Mine, but it can stand proudly alongside it. Now let’s see if the band can capitalize on their momentum this time and avoid going into Witness Protection. I want more Kingdoms, and I want it fookin’ soon.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 160 kbps mp3
Label: Distortion Music Group
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: June 17th, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. It’s a strong 3.0
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