Label: Century Media
Release date: April 24, 2012
Seattle, Washington is no stranger to bucking musical trends, and progressive technical death metal troop 7 Horns 7 Eyes are yet another example of that Pacific Northwest ingenuity-by-apathy trademark. One listen to the band’s full length debut, Throes of Absolution, and you can immediately sense there’s something special brewing here. The band has no need or desire to follow a trend. They simply follow the music where it leads them rather than form it to preconceptions.
Many in the metal community have heard the rumblings and hype about this quintet, composed of Ryan Wood (drums), Aaron Smith (guitar, producer), Sean Alf (guitar), JJ “Shiv” Polachek IV (gutturals) and Brandon Smith (bass). Let it be known right up front, the hype is not hyperbole.
The album was produced and mixed by Smith, but the band wisely brought in the zen-master, Jens Borgen (Opeth, Katatonia, Amon Amarth) to master the album.
Throes of Absolution is a dynamic journey. From the opening track, “Divine Amnesty” the band sets a stark and ominous tone. Much as the album cover suggests, the song leads the listener in, building layer by layer into the forest of the cursed… or is it into the light of redemption? Shiv’s raspy growls set a nice counterpoint to the melodic guitar spirals and chugging rhythms.
A personal favorite is “The Cycle of Self” which brilliantly blends both the death and progressive elements. Once again the fretwork is pure stimulation.
After the midway point “Delusions”, it becomes apparent that as that as well done as this record is, there are certain definable areas the band will want to work on for the next record. One of which is more vocal variation from Shiv. He does his bit very well, but song after song, it begins to sound like a tired drone which sucks some of the oomph out of the songs. Likewise, the drums, which sound great, do not vary enough to add as much depth as they could. These however are minor nitpicks. Perhaps the most notable flaw, if one could call it that, is that the momentum and inspired mood of the album seems to take a dip on the latter tracks.
The highlight of the second half is the doomy vortex of “Vindication”, a six-and-a-half minute drill to the head, which adds timely moments of relief before decimating your cranium. The guitar solo at the three-minute mark of “The Winnowing” should make any shredders fingers itch.
The album’s closer, the near seven-minute instrumental, “Regeneration” features guitar legend Jeff Loomis (ex-Nevermore) who turned Century Media onto these guys. While closing the album with both your longest track and an instrumental is not necessarily a good thing, it works here.
From elements of heaving drudgery to soaring moments of epicness (yes there’s that dreaded word again), 7 Horns 7 Eyes have created a genuinely exciting debut record with Throes of Absolution. One thing that is worthy of note is that this record bears repeated listens to get the full impact. Much like labelmates Vildhjarta, and their impressive debut Masstaden, there is such a tapestry of auditory goodness baked into this bastard, you have to absorb it in pieces to fully appreciate the whole.
Throes of Absolution is a monolithic slab of Christian inspired djent-prog with technicidal tendencies. Tune it up and get your death on.