Call Upon The Wicked
posted on 7/2011 By:
Seven Witches has been around since 1998, but four years have passed since their last release (Deadly Sins), and founding member/guitarist Jack Frost is the only original component in the line-up. Whereas in some bands this would go unnoticed, Seven Witches’ lack of consistency on their roster is glaringly apparent. Since the band comes up short with the chemistry necessary to create a great album, the resulting tracks on Call Upon The Wicked seem like a hyperbolized form of what they’re going for. The group assertively pursues a mid-80’s power metal sound with an unsettling sort of intensity, and while it seems like they’re taking a tongue-in-cheek approach to the music, if that’s honestly the case, they don’t succeed in making this obvious enough. Throughout the album, I didn’t know if the band was laughing with me, or if I was just laughing at them. That’s not to say this album is completely without merit; Jack Frost is clearly a formidable guitarist who can shred and solo amongst the best of them, the production is solid, and the rhythm section does the best they can with what they’ve been given. However, it’s simply not enough to make Call Upon The Wicked a compelling or enjoyable release.
James Rivera’s vocals aren’t the greatest within the field, but his King Diamond-esque highs are both well-executed and pretty damn entertaining, and he displays a great deal of versatility on the album. That being said, I couldn’t help but suspect his performances were mostly supported by production, not prowess, and the three live bonus tracks at the end of the album confirm this suspicion. Although the vocals are a bit weaker than on the studio recordings, they are easily the strongest aspect regarding the trio of performances. The drum production on the aforementioned tunes is absolutely awful, to the point of being damn near unforgivable.
I’m all for cheesy vocals and lyrical themes, but “Ragnarock” is so saturated with both that I felt my arteries clogging after less than a minute. This song takes every 80’s power metal theme and exaggerates it to almost a mocking level. “End of Days” is in this same vein, with echoing female vocal accompaniment and a generic “heavy” riff throughout. “Mind Games” is a fast-paced and raucous track with some of the most adolescent angry vocals I’ve heard in awhile. Part of this is probably due to the hilarious delivery (“Stop fucking! Stop fucking with! Stop fucking with my head!"), but whatever the case, it’s next to impossible to take seriously.
Seven Witches’ cover of Cream’s “White Room” was my favorite track on the album, but the screeching high vocals during the bridge (“I’ll wait in this place, where the sun never shines…”) made me want to punch a wall. On second thought, maybe it wasn’t my favorite. It’s safer to say I don’t have a favorite tune, because to say otherwise would imply that I thoroughly enjoyed a full song off this record. I'll concede that Call Upon The Wicked is not offensively bad, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the heavy-hitters of the genre, or even to some of Seven Witches’ previous work.
When all’s said and done, Call Upon The Wicked is not a crime against humanity, but it’s certainly not worth picking up, unless your adoration for power metal transcends all definitions of quality and originality. Even Jack Frost’s veritable guitar prowess can’t save this record, which is a real shame. I hate to rip this band apart, because they seem to have a ton of enthusiasm and heart, but Call Upon The Wicked barely passes as a first attempt, let alone an eighth studio album.
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