Review Summary: While not revolutionizing the prog metal genre, Seventh Wonder's third album is easily their best one and one of the best albums the genre has to offer. Awesome.
Swedish Seventh Wonder had released two albums prior to their 2008 release, Mercy Falls. After the generally well-received albums, 'Become' and 'Waiting in the Wings', expectations were high for the album and the band's latest effort easily exceeded them.
Telling the story of a man who falls into a coma after a car crash, waking up in a place called Mercy Falls, the album has something that very few albums, concept or not, have - a clear narrative. That's quite possibly the most impressive thing about this. It's more than likely that you will get a good idea of the story even on first listen, and that doesn't by any means mean that the lyrics are oversimplified. Instead, the band used actors and dialogue during some songs to tell the story and it worked incredibly well, mostly. On a few occasions the acting is laughable (especially the "What?" at the end of Back in Time), but the overall quality of the concept and songs make up for the clumsy acting.
Musically this album is not all that different from the stuff we've come to expect from music classified as progressive metal. Combine Dream Theater instrumentation with power metal choruses and you'll have a fairly good idea of what Seventh Wonder sounds like. However, the band never blatantly copies anything, and manages to create their own sound in the process, one that doesn't really sound like either Dream Theater or generic power metal.
As is the case with most prog bands, the musicianship here is top-notch but unlike some bands, the vocals here are extremely good. Some people who dislike power metal might not find Tommy Karevik's to vocals to their liking but while one might argue that he 'oversings' a bit at times, he never goes into his high range so much it becomes annoying. While all the band members play their instruments well, it's bassist Andreas Blomqvist who stands out. This probably would not normally be the case, but on Mercy Falls he is given a handful of chances to play bass solos which are some of the highlights of the songs they're in, especially on Break the Silence, which has a beautiful bass solo around 6 minutes in.
Seventh Wonder's third album is quite possibly also their best one. Every band member plays their respective instrument well and the band doesn't fall into the trap that many bands in the genre do of overly indulging themselves with a disregard to writing quality songs. Add to that a vivid story, that despite a poor quality of acting, is told really well and you get one of the best progressive metal albums of all time.
One Last Goodbye
Fall in Line
Hide and Seek