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Seventh Wonder - 'The Great Escape' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/22/b4/94/991_seventhwonderthegreatescape_1298063067.jpg Hot

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If progressive metal is your thing then you won't be disappointed – and that's a promise!

It's unfathomable that their rapidly improving discography - from the patchy 'Become' (2005) through the impressive 'Waiting In The Wings' (2006) to the simply awesome 'Mercy Falls' (2008) - didn't see Seventh Wonder raise their profile significantly outside of their native Sweden. The latter was widely lauded by those in the know as a masterpiece, but if you thought that 'The Great Escape' couldn't possibly scale the same lofty heights, then think again. In common with fellow Scandinavians Circus Maximus, Silent Call and Magic Pie, Seventh Wonder generally shy away from the darker and heavier end of the progressive metal genre and concentrate on soaring melodies and challenging guitar and keyboard parts, but it's singer Tommy Karevik who's the band's biggest asset. Despite the tricky time changes, long songs and technical playing that the genre demands, Karevik has an accessible AOR-friendly voice and the band write hooks and melodies to show it off at every opportunity, giving them a crossover potential to melodic rock fans that sets them apart from their ilk.

'The Great Escape' consists of just seven tracks, the first six of which clock in at between four and a half and eight and a half minutes, and unlike 'Mercy Falls' they deal with pretty standard topics and can be appreciated without having to get into an elaborate concept. 'Wiseman', for example, is a joyfully upbeat opener with superb ensemble playing, but no matter how technical it gets it's always melodic and has hooks a-plenty in the vocal parts, similarly the piano parts and vocal melodies of 'The Angelmaker' remind me of Enchant and feature the well-used trick of overlapping pacy instrumentation with a slower vocal tune. Check out 'Alley Cat' from this issue's cover disc for proof that you can be as clever and over-the-top as you want as long as you don't forget to put in a catchy chorus, and 'King Of Whitewater' and 'Long Way Home' are both cut from simpler cloth; the former is pretty sedate apart from the instrumental break and the latter is an outstanding ballad with acoustic guitars and piano, together with guest female vocals from Tommy's sister, Jenny. Another short track is the brilliant 'Move On Through' with Johan Liefvendahl's killer staccato guitar riffs, some gorgeous melodies and a tight rhythm section.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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The biggest surprise here is the title-track, which is based on the epic 1956 space saga 'Aniara' by Swedish Nobel Prize winner Harry Martinson and clocks in at just over a staggering thirty minutes. Musically it isn't much different to what's gone before with the same light and shade, amazing musicianship and soaring lead and harmony vocals, the band smoothly moving from one great idea to the next without sounding like they've haphazardly pieced bits of different songs together. It may sound a bit odd to say this of such a long piece of music, but Seventh Wonder still manage not to get too self-indulgent and move onto the next excellent theme well before you get the chance to tire of the previous one. Keyboard player Andreas Soderin impresses just as much with beautiful piano interludes as with his swirling synth solos, duelling with Liefvendahl's fluid guitar work and riding astride the incredible rhythm section with Johnny Sandin's percussion and band leader Andreas Blomqvist's prominent bass lines always providing something interesting. Of course none of this would work if Karevik's melody lines weren't so tuneful and uplifting, suffice to say that thirty minutes goes by in seemingly half that time and you notice more subtle nuances with each play.

As with 'Mercy Falls' Seventh Wonder have yet again outdone themselves musically and the album again has a bright and crisp sound - mixed by Eclipse/W.E.T. all-round super guy Erik Martensson - that belies whatever tight budget they have. By the time you read this drummer Johnny Sandin will have already fulfilled his live dates and will have left the band, but hopefully this will just be a blip on the road to success. They've been languishing in the second division for far too long and deserve to be up there with the big boys, which will only happen if lots of people buy this brilliant CD. If progressive metal is your thing then you won't be disappointed – and that's a promise!

Phil Ashcroft

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