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CD Review: Seven Against Thebes “Art of Deception”

Seven Against Thebes (also referred to as 7AT) is a 4 piece Hard Rock band from the Pacific Northwest. More specifically, the band makes its home in Seattle, Washington. Seven Against Thebes consists of band members: Rusty Hoyle (vocals), Cyrus Rhodes (guitars), Bruce Burgess (drums), Mr. Black (bass). 
This band of musicians takes their name from the play entitled Seven Against Thebes, a play which featured seven captains who were given the duty of attacking the gates of the city of Thebes in an effort to bring the city down.

The band, which takes its name from this play, creates their music by blending together styles of Rock and Roll to produce a sound that would fall into the Progressive Rock genre. Combining influences from bands such as Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden and Tool, the band incorporates other influences as well to help add even more depth to their music. Having already released a self-titled release and an EP entitled Equilibrium, Seven Against Thebes now returns with a new thirteen-track album entitled Art of Deception.

The album of Art of Deception from Seven Against Thebes begins with the track “MMXXII”. This track is strictly instrumental and features very strong guitar playing on the part of Cyrus Rhodes. The results of the blending of two separate guitar riffs in the song create a sound that is almost as strong as any Heavy Metal playing.

Once the instrumental track of “MMXXII” comes to an end, the track segues into the second track of “’Til Death Do Us Part”. The track segues out of a track with only the sound of a guitar into a track that begins with the sound of the pounding of the drums by drummer Bruce Burgess. When the rest of the band joins in, the song takes on a rather energetic pace. The guitars on the track bring to mind the double axe attack style of playing from bands like Metallica which gives the track an almost Heavy Metal-like feel. “’Til Death Do Us Part” is a strong track and kicks off the Art of Deception with plenty of energy. 

With the track “Killing Time,” the band takes a more Modern Rock approach to their music. The song falls more into an Alternative Rock feel than the Progressive Rock approach that is found on both “’Til Death Do Us Part” and the next track on the release, “Collision Course”. “Killing Time” features a musical delivery as well as a vocal delivery by singer Rusty Hoyle that takes the band’s music back almost thirty years. You could easily imagine the song being played on Alternative Rock stations in the nineties. If you were a fan of music back then, “Killing Time” will satisfy your craving for that style.

One of the more unusual tracks on the album of Art of Deception from Seven Against Thebes is the track “Mastervision”. The track begins with the bass guitar from Mr. Black. With this track, the instrument takes on a different feel as it sounds as if it has been fed through a distortion pedal. That distortion of the bass gives the track a slight Industrial feel. That Industrial feel to the music helps add to the Alternative Rock feel to the music. The track features a slightly slow pace to the music; although, the track still contains a driving feel to the music. While the music at the beginning of the track does contain a slightly different feel than most of the other tracks on the release, that sound leads into one of the most interesting moments on the release.

Yet another track that falls into the “unusual” category would be the very next song entitled “Ashes 2 Ashes”. First, the track features the sound of white noise in the background that adds texture to the track from the very beginning of the song. Aside from that white noise, one of the most unusual features of the song is the use of the bass as the main instrument of the track. And while it is the bass that runs through the entire song that the listener focuses on, the bass is also used sparingly, with a much lower note count than one would expect for a lead instrument. The minimalistic use of the bass creates a style that keeps the listener awaiting the next note as the guitar on the track does one thing- it gives the track texture. The track comes across as a song that feels like a laidback Industrial Rock song.

The title track of the album comes very late in the tracklist. Much like the track “’Til Death Do Us Part” from early in the release, “Art of Deception” is another track that contains a musical approach that brings to mind the Speed Metal style that has been such a staple in the musical delivery of Metallica. “Art of Deception” contains the same type of sound that the early stuff from Metallica had.

“Art of Deception” segues into the last track of the release called “Yama” much the way the album’s very first track of “MMXXII” segued into the song “’Til Death Do Us Part” to begin the release. The beginning seconds of the track feature an over-amplified and over-reverbed echo. That echo leads into a song that features a sound that feels like a combination of The Cure and Nine Inch Nails. The track’s Industrial feel of the music and the lyrical content truly give off the impression that the band was heavily influenced by Trent Reznor. In fact, the final line of “I’d Rather Die Upon My Feet Than Live Upon My Knees” definitely has the dark feel of Reznor’s lyrics.

Art of Deception from Seven Against Thebes is a track that contains many different musical styles and directions within its songs. For those music listeners who find themselves wishing for music that bring back the sound of early Alternative Rock, Heavy Metal, and even Industrial Rock, this release is just for you.     

 

While the band Seven Against Thebes is somewhat a mystery of sorts as very little information exists, you can find their profile on Spotify and on Sonicbids

To purchase a copy of Art of Deception from Seven Against Thebes, click on the album cover below:

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CD Review: The Alarm “Equals”

Every so often there comes a band that should be a lot larger popularity-wise than they are. This is a band that has been around a long time but has not gained the popularity they truly deserve. One particular band out there right now that could be described this is the Welsh Rock and Roll band called The Alarm.

It was back in 1981 that Mike Peters and the rest of the band formed the band called The Alarm. That band came to be after the previous group called The Toilets came to an end. With The Toilets, the music was more Punk-based. That sound and style changed with the founding of the band called The Alarm.

As a band, The Alarm combined some New Wave elements and Rock and Roll elements to form the basis of the band’s sound. What resulted is a sound that is rather similar in some ways to the styles of bands like INXS or U2. During the time the band was together, they enjoyed a certain amount of popularity, although that popularity never quite hit here in the states. However, for those who know the band, The Alarm is known for such songs as “Rain in the Summertime,” “Spirit of ’76,” “Rescue Me,” and the song that made the most noise for the band, “Sixty Eight Guns“. 

Throughout the history of the band, The Alarm had three separate time periods, taking a few years off here and there. The last time the band had been together was back in 2010. The band took some time off until lead singer Mike Peters regained the desire to perform with his band mates after spending some time as the frontman of the Scottish band Big Country where Peters filled in for deceased guitarist and lead singer Stuart Adamson who took his own life back in 2001. As the fill-in for Adamson, Mike Peters gained a desire to put his own band back together again and the band of The Alarm reunited and have since released several new albums of music.

In total, The Alarm has released in excess of fifteen albums. They have also released several versions of a Greatest Hits collection from the band that adds to the number of releases in the band’s discography. In fact, the band just recently added yet another album to their impressive discography of music. The newest album from The Alarm is entitled Equals.

Equals from The Alarm begins with the song “Two Rivers”. With this track, the band finds itself going back to the early days of its existence as the music in this song is a combination of both New Wave and Alternative. The track begins with a sound that would have been right at home on radio back in the eighties during the original phase of New Wave music. The keyboards on the track bring to mind the early days of bands like OMD or Depeche Mode. The New Wave feel is soon joined up by an musical influence that brings to mind the early days of Alternative Rock. The two styles combine in this track to create a track that truly feels more commercial than either of the styles on their own. The lyrics to “Two Rivers” deal with two people who have gone their separate ways because of a disagreement. Mike Peters sings of hoping that the two people will get back together where the “two rivers meet” so that they can work things out. The track “Two Rivers” feels very welcome in a time of strong uncertainty in the world.

It is with the first single off of the release that the Equals album from The Alarm continues. That song is entitled “Beautiful”. While much of the band’s earlier music contained a New Wave flavor to it, this track seems to find the band firmly embracing the feel of Alternative Rock. As a matter of fact, the song not only contains and Alternative feel, the track’s sound brings to mind some of the heavier work from the band U2. And while there is a certain amount of U2 influence to the music of the track, “Beautiful” contains a driving feel to the music that gives the song more of a Rock and Roll feel to the music than Pop-rock feel that is usually found on that other band’s music. “Beautiful” has a strong musical approach that would fit right in on any Top 40 radio format.

With the next track, Mike Peters and company create a track with the help of British musician and lead guitarist of the band The Cult, Billy Duffy. The track “Coming Backwards” takes the band’s music in a slightly retro feel. The resulting track features a sound that brings to mind the Power Rock music from the eighties. In fact, “Coming Backwards” would easily have fit on radio back in the eighties. For today’s music scene, the track has enough of a current feel to it that the track comes across as timeless. The lyrics to “Coming Backwards” deal with doing the same thing over and over again. The track ends up being one of the stronger tracks on the release.

The song “Transatlantic” features a sound that makes use of musical influences found back in the nineties. The track’s Rock and Roll approach combines the feel of the band U2 with that of earlier music from The Alarm. The musical blend on the track would fit right in with musical from either band. The track deals with someone in a long distance relationship. The lyrics deal with the singer missing someone on the other side of the world. This track is perfect for anyone who is currently missing someone who is far away from them.

Taking the music in a slightly different direction, the song “Thirteen Dead Reindeer” features an Alternative Rock feel with plenty of electronica influence thrown in. The result is a song that that has a strong beat to it as well as a driving feel to the pace of the music. The track’s sound falls somewhere between modern and slightly retro. The lyrics to the track deal with the senseless killing of animals and the fallout that happens afterward.

For two tracks on the band’s newest album, The Alarm create songs that deal with conflict. With the song “Neutral,” Mike Peters sings about not wanting to get involved with other people’s problems. At the same time, the track “Cenotaph” (a word that describes an empty tomb) deals with getting ready for the war that is about to start. With the way the world is right now, the two tracks seem to be speaking volumes about the current political atmosphere.

One of the more unusual tracks (for both the album and the band itself), “Hell Fire” is a track that truly separates itself from the rest of the album. The track contains a style of Rock and Roll and a lyrical content that combine to create track that Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails would be proud of. In fact, the track’s Nine Inch Nails sound only helps to point out that Mike Peters’ writing has been shaped by many different influences.

Mike Peters has really picked up a lot of different musical influences over the years. Those influences have helped to shape Equals from The Alarm. The ever-changing sound and feel of each of the tracks as well as the talents from the rest of the band have combined to create a release that features a musical sound that never really stays in one place. That ever-changing style on the album is sure to please any lover of Rock and Roll music.

The Alarm is currently promoting their new album called Equals. To help promote the new album, the band has released the song “Beautiful”. Click HERE to check out the video to “Beautiful”.

To check out the newest album from The Alarm called Equals, click on the album cover below: 

 

 

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CD Review: Tim Kirker “Shallow End of a Deep River”

It was in the city of Cleveland, Ohio that Tim Kirker got his start as a musician. Among other things, Kirker shared the stage with lead Nine Inch Nails member Trent Reznor. Reznor and Kirker were part of the same group called Slam Bamboo who had a Top 40 hit song in the Cleveland area called “House on Fire”. Reznor would later go on with NIN and Kirker would go in his own direction, forming other bands.

Years later, the now New York-based Tim Kirker has returned to music after taking some time off and has since released two solo albums after returning to music with the help of several friends from his musical past. After releasing his first solo album of Like Distant Sounds in 2003, Kirker would take some time off. Having returned last year with Worms for Early Birds, his newest album in over a decade, Kirker returned once again in 2015 with yet another new release. This new album is entitled Shallow End of a Deep River.

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CD Review: The 71s “We Are The Seventy Ones”

The 71sGiving you songs that bring back the sound and feel of Glam and running through the style of today’s bands like Jet, The 71s have a sound that features a lot of energy and make you wish more bands from today still cared about making “real” rock and roll. Taking the listener through many different feelings in their music, The 71s have created a very solid release with We Are The Seventy Ones.

The 71s are a four-piece rock band from Houston, Texas made up of singer/guitarist Keeton Coffman, guitarist/vocalist Ryan Cecil, bassist/vocalist Jacob Lisenbe and drummer Tank Lisenbe. The band’s music is described as “anthem-sized songs”. That really is a good way of putting a feel to what the band is about. The four musicians in the band really do seem to care about making rock and roll that has both energy and real talent in the music that makes up each song that the band creates.