Release DetailsLABEL Candlelight
RELEASED ON 1/24/2006
posted on 1/2006 By:
As someone just introducing himself to some of the lesser known but nevertheless stellar traditional and speed metal acts of the 80s, I am relatively unfamiliar with the personal histories of the members now comprising Seven Witches. What I can tell you is that Alan Tecchio is known as a vocal god by some for his work with both Hades and Watchtower, and that Jack Frost is considered one of today’s better guitarists and also serves time with The Bronx Casket Co. Additionally, Winter's Bane veteran Jeff Currenton plays drums and Non Fiction's Kevin Bolembach is on bass. I was curious to hear this not only because of the people involved but because of the good press I had heard surrounding the band. Amped is the sixth album for Seven Witches, itself only about 56 in dog years (that’s eight years for greasy metalheads). That’s actually quite a discography for any group, especially one that has changed lineups as frequently as this one. If you take that into consideration, you might arrive at what is probably a pretty logical conclusion; they’ve run out of ideas. But as you take in the electric energy of Amped, you’ll realize that your assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. Opening with its third strongest track, “West Nile,” Amped certainly lives up to its name in short order. And Tecchio certainly doesn’t wait long to let his presence be known. His distinct wail as he sings, “Weeeesssst Niiiilllle,” fulfills all my expectations and makes me even more curious to hear the rest of the album, which will turn out to be both a good and bad thing. Frost’s screeching and almost unrelenting guitar work is beyond commendable, but what really carries the track is Tecchio’s ability to make a catchy hook even catchier with subtle changes in his voice. He doesn’t ride riffs. Riffs clearly ride him, as he establishes tone, pace, and atmosphere with no hesitation. Chances are, if you don’t like Tecchio’s voice, you probably won’t like this album. “Sunnydale High” is my favorite track for a number of reasons. Beyond it being one scorcher of a Priest clone, its lyrics concern themselves with one of my favorite shows in the history of television; Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Who woulda thunk, eh? And somehow it comes across as nothing but clean fun. Damn you to hell if you think the idea was cheesy or stupid. There’s no getting around the fact that a more traditional heavy metal act like Seven Witches recording an ode to one of my favorite television shows tickles me more than seeing Eliza Dushku ride the mechanical bull in The New Guy. I couldn’t get over it the first time I heard the song, and I am still not over it. Hell, I am still not over that crushing opening riff either. As much as I love the lyrics, it’s the pummeling drive and excellent rhythm work coming from Jack Frost’s guitar that really keeps me humming along. While I love the first five songs on Amped, I can’t say the same about the three tracks found between the fifth and the ninth track. “Fame Gets You Off,” “Flesh for Fantasy,” and “Red” really are nothing but filler. Boring and tepid, the opening riff of “Fame Gets You Off” ultimately falls flat as its carried throughout the track in a careless fashion, and, ironically enough, the fact that its sped up does nothing to pick up the pace. “Flesh for Fantasy” continues the mid-pace feel, and tries to do some interesting things with the chorus that I respect but ultimately wish could be just a bit catchier. Two and a half minutes is just too long to wait for a four-second hook when there’s no ear popping solos or ‘bang-worthy rhythm work in between. There’s some weird attempts at creating atmosphere by stripping “Red” of all but one of its instrumental layers at odd moments throughout the track, but it really does nothing but slow the pace in a song that’s far too short for that sort of tinkering around. Three sub-par tracks are not enough to ruin Amped’s finisher though, as “Widows and Orphans” returns to the pure metal spirit of “West Nile” and "Sunnydale High.” Tecchio opens the festivities in a tone a bit higher than his norm before Frost steps in with an extended solo and jumps into some pretty fast picking. At a bit over five minutes, “Widows and Orphans” is one of Amped’s lengthier and more complete sounding tracks, and if Seven Witches wanted to end the album on a high note, they achieved just that. While I began my experience with Amped a complete newbie to both Tecchio and Jack Frost, I left extremely interested to hear both Tecchio’s earliest recordings with Hades and Frost’s previous Seven Witches albums. While I can’t say that the album is stripped of filler, as there’s almost a handful to be found, there are a few killer tracks here that nearly make Amped an essential purchase for any true heavy metal enthusiast. If exclusively collected in one package, “West Nile,” “Sunnydale High,” Dishonor Killings,” “Be,” and “Widows and Orphans” would make for an ass-kicking EP, but the fact that it’s surrounded by some less than stellar tracks does bring this album down a few notches.
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