Discography Check: Seven Sisters

It’s about time to continue our section Discography Check, which we started a year ago. We kick off with a band that means a lot to us: Seven Sisters. With this little feature, the Epic Metal Blog also thanks these artists for their just completed European tour, where they absolutely captivated many fans. We hope you enjoy reading!

Seven Sisters, Oberhausen 07/05/22, taken by Aidan.

2014

On June 16, Seven Sisters give the first musical sign of life in the guise of The Warden. The band calls it a “bedroom project“ of Graeme and Kyle. This demo tape is special in the history of the Englishmen for two reasons: On the one hand, it is the only release on which a drum machine, programmed by Kyle, can be heard. Even if a drummer of flesh and blood is of course to be preferred, it should be noted that this aspect does not diminish the listening pleasure to any significant extent. On the other hand, we are dealing here with the only release on which Josh Winnard, since 2012 part of Dark Forest – before that also in Wytch Hazel (2011-2013), serves as vocalist. That Kyle has certainly not suffered from boredom, however, can be deduced from the fact that he not merely plays guitar on The Warden, but bass as well.

The Warden consists of four songs: The title track, “Onwards They Ride“, “No Guts, No Glory“ and “Avenger“. The demo starts right away with sparkling lead guitars that immediately transport the listener back to the early 80s, namely to the peak of the legendary NWOBHM. If you listen to the number, it can be stated that the guitar work of Kyle and Graeme is generally the most captivating. Josh presents us with quite interesting vocal lines, but remains a bit drab overall. The chorus deserves the rating “solid“, but doesn’t blow me away. In my opinion, the two following tunes would have been better suited as openers. Nevertheless, “The Warden“ is on the whole a rather varied composition, which has an exciting, slightly sinister note, which corresponds with the lyrics. With “Onwards They Ride“, the band steps up on several levels: Josh’s vocal performance pleases me much better here – this may also be due to the fact that the vocal lines in this track sound much more like the later Seven Sisters. The highlight here remains the six-stringers, which ignite fireworks that bring to mind legends like early Iron Maiden or Satan. Also thanks to some interspersed choirs “Onwards They Ride“ has an epic note not only on the lyrical level, which is of course particularly welcome on this platform. Altogether I think while listening to this song that Seven Sisters should definitely integrate it into their live program again, now and then. The chorus should animate many fans to sing along. “No Guts, No Glory“ fortunately keeps the level. Josh improves once again, since he also goes into the heights from time to time – without being annoying! The fistraising potential of the chorus is great – the chance that every aficionado of twin guitars à la Thin Lizzy will fall in love with the band here at the latest is even greater. With “Avenger“ Seven Sisters introduce us to the first, extremely multifaceted long track of their history: Just one year after their formation, they prove that this is where their true strength lies. The dreamy, atmospheric opening alone gives you goosebumps. The guitars here are so soulful and played with so much devotion that you melt away and wish this song would never end. In the further course of the song the riffing is again very British – typical for the NWOBHM is also the amazing understanding for melodies, which Seven Sisters display more than 30 years after its heyday.

Conclusion: With their demo, Kyle and Graeme already set themselves apart qualitatively from most of the newcomers who can be assigned to the NWOTHM in the broadest sense. They impressively prove that they can write songs with character, which will stick in your brain for a very long time after just a few listens. That they only hinted at their potential in 2014, no one could have guessed at the time. Already in the following year they spoiled the ears of their fans with their first real hit…

2015

As is often the case with young bands, a lot happened in Seven Sisters on personnel level between the first and second release: On the single Lost in Time, which comes out on June 21, 2015, Kyle takes over the lead vocals for the first time. In retrospect, probably one of the best decisions the band has made in the span of their career so far. This time, Kyle also no longer has to handle the bass and drum machine: With Adam Thorpe, they feature a new addition on the four-string. But that’s not all: Steve Loftin sends Angelo Sasso into retirement – and turns Seven Sisters into a real band, which is also ready for concerts in the new lineup.

As already indicated above, Seven Sisters create the first classic in their discography on their first single: The title track, which is still one of the live standards of the Englishmen, impresses with a breathtaking, memorable chorus that thrills every listener. However, the verses are no less well-done, since they make their contribution to an appropriate build-up of tension. I don’t have to say anything more about the guitars at this point: just like on The Warden, we are operating at the highest level here – even the quite raw sound of Lost in Time doesn’t rob anything of the magic of the melodies that Graeme and Kyle elicit from their instruments. The latter cuts a good figure on the microphone right from his debut in this role, though he will be able to further improve on the upcoming outputs. The second track Seven Sisters 2015 gives us, “Wicked Steel“, is first and foremost a straight heavy metal number that goes forward well and is quite catchy. The song only has the disadvantage that it can’t keep up with the outstanding “Lost in Time“ in terms of quality. However, even in the third year of its existence, the band does not have any weak compositions in store. Thus, in 2015, the time is ripe to tackle the first full-length in order to finally secure the attention of the underground scene.

2016

Even though I didn’t conduct a representative survey on this topic, I’m pretty sure that most people got to know Seven Sisters with their self-titled debut. It was no different for me: when the album came out on 14 October 2016, I bought almost all releases that were associated with the NWOTHM in the broadest sense. Mostly I moved around Sweden and Canada, but occasional trips to the UK were of course part of it. Seven Sisters immediately scored with a cover that deserves to be called eye candy and is a wonderful illustration of the band’s anthem – THE highlight on this first full length. While researching for this article, I was quite surprised that the creator of the artwork, Nick Huck, is not mentioned as an artist on any other records in the Metallum. I would like to get to see a bit more from him…

But let’s get to the music: While many heavy metal records start with a bang, Seven Sisters initially keep things calm in “Destiny’s Calling“. One or two impatient listeners may have already checked whether their stereo is working properly. But after less than a minute, the marvellous guitar melodies of Graeme and Kyle, of which I have already raved so often above, can be heard for the first time. The song, recorded like the whole album by the line-up of the single Lost in Time, turns out to be a typical NWOBHM-like Seven Sisters anthem. Worth mentioning, besides the really good production, is Kyle’s superb vocals, which have improved enormously compared to the previous output from 2015. All in all, Seven Sisters is consistently on a high playing and compositional level, there are no failures to be noted. However, the aforementioned band hymn stands out, which I would call the second great classic from the early phase of the Englishmen following “Lost in Time“. 

“Seven Sisters“ fascinates with some of the most gorgeous, yearning guitar melodies we have heard from Graeme and Kyle so far. The latter sings very soulfully and always gives me goosebumps with his performance. All in all, the track is a big exclamation mark, because it is simply more sophisticated, more varied and more sublime than almost everything that has been offered by other NWOTHM bands up to now. Even if “Lost in Time“ is unquestionably an immortal anthem, “Seven Sisters“ is a kind of modern “Hallowed be thy Name“ – a signature track where everything fits and which sets the bar enormously high. Here, at the latest, it is clear that we are not dealing with one of many up-and-coming acts, but perhaps with a band that has what it takes in terms of quality to become one of the leaders in our scene.

Another number that deserves to be highlighted is undoubtedly “Commanded by Fear“. The rather simple but efficient chorus is perfect for singing along at concerts. However, the verses also convince me, so that we are also dealing with a small hit in the back catalogue of the Brits. No wonder Seven Sisters played this track every night on their current tour. The following, compact “Gods and Men Alike“ would also have deserved that by the way – at first glance a somewhat unspectacular composition, but you never get it out of your head after several listens.

Conclusion: Seven Sisters impressively prove in 2016 that they only hinted at their potential with their demo and single. The current line-up seems very well-rehearsed and whets the appetite for live experiences. The only problem: The overabundance of NWOTHM means that some releases are unfairly overshadowed and don’t get the full attention. Looking back, I have to admit that I enjoyed Seven Sisters, but only became a die-hard fan with the follow-up. This one should become so magnificent that it was not even possible to neglect it in any way.

2017

This year, Seven Sisters are participating in the compilation British Steel – The Rising Force of British Heavy Metal with the track “The Witch’s Eye“ – this release also features Amulet, Dark Forest and Wytch Hazel, among others. The song is convincing with particularly sparkling solos and a very intriguing riffing, which is far away from the standard stuff. The same goes for the pre-chorus and chorus, which are immediately memorable and once again prove that Seven Sisters are able to write hits that get to the point, but also have the necessary long-term effect to be really interesting.

2018

Only one and a half years after their first full-length, Seven Sisters are releasing their second studio album, The Cauldron and The Cross. This time there is another change in the line-up: Bassist Adam Thorpe has left the band after two years to found Skyryder. The new man on board comes from Spain and is called Javi Rute. The Cauldron and The Cross once again impresses with its extremely well-made artwork, this time by Simon Pye Parr, who is also responsible for the design of Eliminator’s debut album, Last Horizon (as well released in 2018). What we get to see here by Seven Sisters already sets the mood for the record excellently, both lyrically and musically. The Arthurian legend plays an important role – and the band succeeds in setting the scene excellently. With “Avenger“ and “Seven Sisters“, Kyle and Graeme had previously indicated that they could write exceptionally epic NWOBHM numbers. On their second album, which was released on 13 April 2018, however, they take this to a whole new level.

The latter applies to the quality of the entire album: of course, The Cauldron and The Cross once again impresses with the strengths that have already distinguished Seven Sisters in the past – to name but a few are fantastically beautiful guitar melodies, wonderful vocals with a high recognition value and highly melodic, sophisticated songs. In 2018, Seven Sisters deliver nothing but smash hits: Whether it’s “Once and Future King“, “Turning of the Tide“ or “Oathbreaker“, we’re dealing with Champions League level throughout, which almost all other bands can only dream of. Especially the first mentioned track would actually have to be a big hit in our scene by now, as it has all the ingredients that usually excite fans of classic steel who don’t like it banal.

Nevertheless, the guys have saved the highlight for the end of the album: The two-part title track can be called a milestone in the band’s history. What Seven Sisters offer in these 16 minutes still makes people open-mouthed to this day, not least live. In musical terms, Avalon has definitely never been honoured with a more glorious monument in this millennium. Part 2 in particular, eight and a half minutes long, is one of the best classic metal songs composed after the golden era. So if “Seven Sisters“ qualifies as a modern “Hallowed be thy Name“, what we face here is the band’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner“.

Conclusion: With The Cauldron and The CrossSeven Sisters present an immortal classic five years after their band’s foundation, which unquestionably belongs to the crown jewels of the NWOTHM. In my eyes – and also in the eyes of my colleague Aidan – this is an album that deserves the highest rating and should not be missing from any well-stocked record collection. In this sense, 2018 is, in retrospect, a turning point in the band’s history: from then on, Seven Sisters were no longer a good-quality NWOTHM band, but one of their flagships in terms of quality. Anyone who still claims that there are no more exciting, individual-sounding young bands today has definitely never heard a note from The Cauldron and The Cross in their life.

2019

13 November 2019 sees the release of the first split in the band’s history, co-issued with Californian heavy metal outfit Haunt, led by workhorse Trevor William Church. Seven Sisters describe their tune on the 7″ single itself as follows: “The Crystal Temple is a prequel to album number three and sets the scene sonically and thematically for what’s to come.“ 

In retrospect, it can be said that the guys didn’t promise too much in this regard, because the song would have cut quite a fine figure on Shadow of a Fallen Star Pt. I. Stylistically, it is clearly different from the epic. Stylistically, it clearly differs from the epic ending we are treated to on The Cauldron and The Cross – we are dealing with a compact, rather straight metal number that can convince with a good pre-chorus and a catchy chorus. The sound, however, is a clear step backwards compared to the previous release, even if this does not limit the listening pleasure to a significant degree. A tasty little appetiser to bridge the waiting time until the following album.

2020

The year 2020 has a lot to offer to the Seven Sisters fan community: As the pandemic gradually paralyses the world, the boys delight us on 1 May with the EP Campfire Tales, which contains five acoustic songs, including four of their own numbers and, in addition, the Thin Lizzy cover “Borderline“. The band itself states: “These new arrangements offer a different view of the music: These new arrangements offer a different view of some of our older material – swapping soaring leads and layers of distorted guitars, for carefully arranged acoustic guitars and a moody atmosphere. Some parts have been completely reimagined making it an interesting alternate look at familiar songs.”

The artwork this time is created by Jack Welch (Seventh Bell Artwork), who has also embellished releases by Sanhedrin and Bütcher, among others. Campfire Tales is special for several reasons: It is not only the first EP and the first acoustic release, but also the first and so far only recording that was done by Kyle completely alone. The quality is impressive from the first moment: both “Lost in Time“, which functions here as the opener, and the band anthem “Seven Sisters“ that follows shine in new splendour. The intimate atmosphere goes straight to the heart. It is remarkable how much effort Kyle has taken to rearrange all the tracks we get to hear on Campfire Tales – In this respect, the above quote hits the nail on the head. But it’s not least his vocals that characterise the EP – I admit it, I could listen to him for hours, and frankly, I do so frequently. 

There’s another special feature I’ve just left out: “Borderline“ is the first cover to be heard on an official Seven Sisters output. With the Johnny the Fox number, composed by Phil Lynott and Brian Robertson, Kyle reminds us of a band that has unquestionably had a lasting influence on Seven Sisters – the twin guitars that the Englishmen have been spoiling us with since their formation can be traced back to Scott Gorham and his changing partners on the six-string without any doubt. If some young listeners have discovered the Irish thanks to Campfire Tales, Kyle has presumably achieved one of his main goals.

On 4 December 2020, a second release from Seven Sisters gives many fans cause for excitement just before Christmas: The compilation Echoes of A Distant Time bundles both of the band’s first releases, the demo The Warden and the 2 song single Lost in Time. For many, this is certainly the first opportunity to acquire these songs in physical form. The grandiose artwork, once again by Jack Welch, deserves a mention. 

Conclusion: Seven Sisters unquestionably provide their fans with some pleasant, light-hearted hours in the miserable year 2020 with two strong releases that are far more than just a mere supplement to the two full-lengths. If you love the band, you can’t get past Kyle’s acoustic worship or the reminder of the early phase, which is already very much worth listening to. Finally, I would like to recommend the very interesting interview that Aidan did with the band in November 2020.

2021

February 5, 2021 sees arguably the strangest record release in the band’s history to date. 8-Bits and Smash Hits was originally released as a Bandcamp Friday EP to support The Black Heart club during the times of the Corona crisis. A noble gesture by the band, who together with their fans raised £250. Seven Sisters write about this release: “Take a trip back in time when tabletop games ruled supreme and 16-bit graphics were but a distant future-dream. 8-Bits‘ is a collection of Seven Sisters songs reimagined in a ‘retro video game’ style.“ 

The song selection is interesting, because on the one hand there are tracks from the first two full-lengths – “Highways of the Night“, “Blood and Fire“ and “Once and Future King“ – in completely new guises. In addition, 8-Bits and Smash Hits contains the excellent demo song “Onwards They Ride“ as well as “The Crystal Temple“ from the split with Haunt. The question of whether you need this release in your collection doesn’t arise when you know the background. A Seven Sisters die-hard fan needs everything anyway – and it may be noted that the band has put a lot of effort into their work here as well. The cult cover alone, designed by Kyle himself, is worth the money. It is noteworthy as it features two new band members: Javi Rute had already left Seven Sisters in 2018 – his successor is Gareth “Gaz“ Martin. In addition, there was a drastic change on the drums – Steve Loftin was in the band from 2014 to 2020 and thus a defining face next to Kyle and Graeme. His successor Sammy Christou had worked as a driver and merch guy for Seven Sisters in the past. With this line-up, the band had also recorded their third longplayer, which I was to choose as my album of the year in 2021.

I have already written a lot about Shadow of a Fallen Star Pt. 1 on this blog – I refer you to my review, where I gave it the highest score for the first time for the Epic Metal Blog. Looking back, I may say that I would do this again every time. The question of whether full-length number three is better than The Cauldron and The Cross does not occur to me, as we are dealing with two perfect albums. After two live experiences, I can say that the songs from 2021 have grown even closer to my heart – above all, “The Artifice“ and “Horizon’s Eye“ are among the best metal numbers written this millennium. From now on, Seven Sisters are the benchmark for all bands that claim to play high-quality, soulful classic metal that in no way has to hide from the legends in our scene.

Epilogue

7 May 2022 was to be a very special day in the history of our blog. As you can see from our live report, we were able to spend a wonderful evening at the Helvete in Oberhausen, which Aidan and I, as well as everyone else, enjoyed enormously. As it is not a given, it remains to be said at the end of this discography check: Seven Sisters are, as I have often written above, a magnificent band. But first and foremost they are four enormously likeable, down-to-earth, intelligent and hard-working guys who have thoroughly earned every success. On behalf of my dear young colleague, I can say that we can’t wait to see Kyle, Graeme, Gaz and Sammy again in the foreseeable future! Maybe there will be a motto shirt again….

Note: All quotes from the band that have been cited in this article can be found on the Seven Sisters Bandcamp profile.

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