Reviewed by Teresa Hopkins
Label: So Cal Records/Alliance Entertainment
US Release Date: 2/18/2014
Rays Of The Sun
How Does It Feel
Carry The Cross
Let It Out
Lucky for us old-school metal and rock fans, we don’t have to compromise what we love best to be open to new music when it comes to SEVENTRAIN. Despite my musical cynicism these days, I was wowed by these guys almost immediately —a few seconds’ listen into this debut album made me want to hear more.
Right out of the gate with “Bleeding”, SEVENTRAIN doesn’t waste any time getting into a blues-infused groove that grabs you immediately and stays with you even after the album ends. The songwriting and musical talent stand on their own with no need for frills or fluff. This is tasty meat-and-potatoes modern hard rock, seasoned with a little Audioslave, Soundgarden, King’s X, Alter Bridge, just a pinch of Bad Company, and some Zakk Wylde-esque harmonics in the guitar playing now and then, just to spice it up a bit. Oh, and it has to be mentioned that while I don’t suspect this was a conscious effort, Jon Campos‘ voice is slightly and reverently reminiscent of the late great Ronnie James Dio, a factor more noticeable on the slower-tempo songs such as “Let It Out”.
Yet, despite some of the influences that come to mind upon first listen, SEVENTRAIN definitely has their own sound. The members’ previous gigs from various bands in the San Diego area (such as 24-7 Spyz, Shockhead, Cage, My Middle Finger, Tourniquet, and cover band 6one9) no doubt helped perfect their individual talents and styles, which mesh well; there is a definite cohesiveness to their playing that makes them sound like they were born to play together.
The songwriting is strong and well-structured, both instrumentally and lyrically. There is a maturity and a depth to the lyrics, weighty but uncomplicated, imparting to the listener that these guys aren’t just singing about Life; though it’s clear they’ve observed a few things (and don’t mince words in their opinions), they’ve lived through it, surviving to tell about it (“Carry the Cross”). Both in the order of track listing and within the songs themselves, melody and variegation flow, keeping the feel of the album energized. Drummer Joel Maitoza also does a stellar job of mixing up the beats and the timing.
The album was, as Maitoza put it, “lovingly tracked in analog on 2-inch tape” at DML Studios in the spring of 2013. Don Lithgow‘s engineering skills bring out the best of the band’s sound with a really good mix—clear, balanced, and powerful.
It’s hard to hand-pick a few from this album, because there aren’t any fillers. I personally feel that “Change” (with a riff that stuck in my head all day, to my delight) is the strongest song of this first collection and best represents them based on what I’ve heard. Other stand-outs are the poignant, acoustic-flavored ballad “Broken” and the low-down grunge-alicousness of “Trouble” with its raw and dusty slide guitar intro. But you’ll surely have a few favourites of your own.
SEVENTRAIN opens for Michael Schenker on February 14 at the Ramona Mainstage Nightclub in Ramona, California before touring this summer in the U.S.. Now there’s a great idea for something to do on Valentine’s Day. Your sweetie will love you for it! And if he (or she) doesn’t, keep the album and find someone else to kiss.
Seventrain’s album now available on iTunes, HERE.
Vox: Jon Campos
Guitars: Eric Horton
Guitars: Jef Poremba
Bass: Gregg Rupp (on album), replaced by Steve Andino
Drums: Joel Maitoza