Review Summary: 7 Horns 7 Eyes go against the grain to create a crushing progressive death metal album with accessibility.
With influences ranging from Katatonia and Daylight Dies to Decapitated and Morbid Angel, an unknown band from Seattle has created a surprisingly balanced sound which is damn refreshing in the sea of sterile djent and Sumeriancore flooding the current metal scene.
The album begins with a lullaby-esque melody layered with synth strings and a growl as a facilitating device to kickstart another a layer of sound. They layers continue to grow and build into a mix of what is to come on the rest of Thrones of Absolution. The atmosphere is what I can describe as a desolate warmth. At this point, the tone of the guitar sounds somber enough, but at the same time there is an uplifting element which separates 7 Horns 7 Eyes from many progressive death metal albums that surround themselves in frail and despaired themes (Be’lakor and Ikuinen Kaamos are two bands that come to mind).
At the peak of the album’s intro, a seamless transition into deep throaty growls seals the dense death metal overtones. After a crunchy palm-muted rhythm enters the foreground, an airy melody gives way to one of the album’s many searing leads. On the subject, goddamn, lead guitarist Sean Alf can rip. The mix of driving melodies and tapping flurries found throughout the album are at times chilling.
After 4 solid slabs of songs (especially Phumis, which rules) , Delusions and A Finite Grasp of Infinite Disillusion take a step back quality wise and drag despite the strong vocal presence of JJ “Shiv” Polachek. While his deep and discernable technique adds depth and fits the music well, the reverb could have been toned down a little at times. Aside from that, and a few awkwardly placed yelps in a few songs, this is what death metal vocals should sound like both delivery and production-wise. No better example than the slamming first verse of Vindicator. It stands alone as the most brutal and headbangable part of the album - having the sudden urge to punch an ostrich in the throat while listening to it is perfectly normal.
Despite being a top-heavy disc, Thrones of Absolution ends on a high note with a guest solo by Jeff Loomis on the song Regeneration. The album displays great musicianship and creativity in the djent and –core obsessed current state of metal. Unlike other bands riding trends and having dime-a-dozen vocalists, 7 Horns 7 Eyes displays a balanced attack of influences from the progressive, doom, and death metal genres to create their own atmospheric and lead-driven entity.