Seventh Storm – Maledictus Review

When a musician has a protracted affiliation with a certain band and then gets the freedom to do his/her own thing, sometimes you end up with a funky batch of seabiscuits. Take for instance Seventh Storm, the new project by long-time Moonspell drummer Mike Gaspar. With 20-plus years manning the kit for the Portuguese black/folk/goth/prog titans, I’m not sure what folks were expecting from his solo phase, but I feel safe saying Maledictus isn’t it. The promo promises influences ranging from “Bathory via Samael, Tiamat, Paradise Lost, Fields Of The Nephilim, Cradle Of Filth, and Dead Can Dance to even Van Halen or Mötley Crüe.” What we actually get is much more like Firewind and Nightwish writing epic metal tunes for Disturbed and Godsmack. This makes it the first (and likely only) epic nu metal platter the world will ever know. Hold on, come back! We aren’t done here yet. The weird thing is, Maledictus kinda works in a confounding, improbable way. It shouldn’t, but it does. Mostly. At least when it’s not shooting itself in the foot or face planting in the waves of ambitious excess. This is the kind of album that’ll have you scratching your head wondering if you actually like or hate it. I’ve been spinning it for a week and I’m still befuddled and bewildered. It’s vexing, and indeed I’m quite vexed. I’m still grudgingly spinning it though. That counts for something, right? You shut up!

The band eases you into things with the highly palatable “Pirate’s Curse,” which comes out of the cove as a Bathory-esque epic tune with trveness written all over it. You’ll be adjusting your eye patch before you know it as your lust for free booty intensifies. The riffs are big and burly and the vocals are manly and raspy. Black metal tropes lurk around the edges and dashes of symphonic power metal dot the coastline. It’s epical stuff and it works very well. Then they drop what can best be described as an overwrought epic power/goth metal piece titled “Saudade.”1 This too somehow works largely due to the impassioned vocals by frontman Rez and the interesting spikes of black metal infused throughout, though it runs roughly two minutes too long. From there we’re off to the nu-metal rodeo for “Gods of Babylon” where Middle Eastern influences are teamed with blasting black metal and yep, 120% authentic nu-metal riffs and vocals that are nearly identical to those of Disturbed’s Dave Draiman. Should this mix work? Fook no! But it does, and you’ll have little choice but to get down with the slickness. Confused yet?

The rest of Maledictus veers from shockingly successful blends of these disparate elements to less optimal experiments that slam pinky toes into heavy laboratory equipment. While “Reckoning” balances uncooperative genres well, “Inferno Rising” ends up a strange struggle between Symphony X-esque power-prog, black metal and symphonic cheese doodles. “My Redemption” is epic nu-metal sounding like Disturbed meets Visigoth and it’s big guilty fun, but the slow boil of “Seventh” goes nowhere and takes nearly 6 minutes to do it. 8-minute closer “The Haunted Sea” is a good 4-minute song spanning epic, black, nu, and alt-metal, but it’s stretched out far too long and it suffers for its debauchery. At just shy of an hour, there’s a lot of bloat in the material and some of the songs have very noticeable seams where the various genres are sutured together. If 2 minutes were cut from all of the longest tracks, this would rise significantly in the ratings, because much of what the band attempts is actually pretty cool. They just try to do too much at all times.

Mike Gaspar seems to be having an absolute blast in the videos for the album, and thus his project is at least a partial success. He gives a full-throttle, exuberant performance across Maledictus, striving to imbue the material with all sorts of epic bells, whistles, and blastbeats and make everything sound larger-than-life. Frontman Rez is a big reason why it all hangs together and works. Despite his similarities to Mr. Draiman, his roaring rasps and rough-hewn roars drive the songs in forceful ways and keep you tuned in. The man has some gravitas and charisma for sure. Ben Stockwell and Josh Riot do their fair share with a potpourri of wild guitar antics spanning many genres. They tend to settle into basic nu-metal riffing a bit too often, but they explore strange new worlds often enough to keep tedium from gaining traction. The talent is present. Restraint and a more detailed blueprint are what Seventh Storm need now.

For all the madcap overkill present on Maledictus, there’s something here that could totally work with streamlining and polishing. I kinda want it to work too, which surprises and shames me. I’ve rarely struggled with a promo as much as I have with this one, but the net result has been more entertaining than frustrating. If the band can shore up the best aspects of their style they could be onto something pretty damn cool. I can’t fully recommend Maledictus, but I do dare you to sample this oddball potation and see how it hits you. Stupefaction awaits.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Atomic Fire Records
Releases Worldwide: August 12th, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. Saudade is a feeling of melancholy or nostalgia.
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