Seventh Wonder
Mercy Falls


4.5
superb

Review

by Xenorazr CONTRIBUTOR (120 Reviews)
March 5th, 2016 | 22 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "Just let go and you will see."

Few genres produce as many concept albums as progressive rock/metal--it's practically a rite of passage to release one. This commonality makes sense, since progressive music often aspires to constantly evolve, be it in one song or an entire album. Morever, many of our favorite stories in general are ones we love revisiting, despite knowing how the tale will end. At that point it becomes less about knowing the outcome and more about picking up on various details along the way. The same principle applies to music. Seventh Wonder must've had this idea in mind when writing their third album, Mercy Falls. Going from a buoyant showcase of their talents to a concept album only made sense, since it would give them a set goal to work towards in developing their music.

At first glance, Mercy Falls' story will appear similar to Ayreon's The Human Equation; a comatose man (by car crash) finds himself in a place called Mercy Falls, offering a sort of dual narrative for what happens in and out of his mind. Yet the two take very different directions, with Mercy Falls being the more traditional and small-scale. Voiceovers and dialogue make their way into the album, mostly during the first half, but they're kept to a minimum so the music can stand out. This will be an immediate relief for any listener, particulary those who enjoyed Waiting in the Wings. The nature of this tale sets Mercy Falls on a different pedestal than its predecessor, one that practically extinguishes their power metal influences. Just looking at the album art you can gather that this will be a darker, more personal affair, but not nearly to the extent that the band feel transformed again.

Instrumentally, Mercy Falls is a fitting successor to Waiting in the Wings, though Seventh Wonder have made a few small, appropriate changes. One of the band's endearing qualities has been (and continues to be) their emphasis on Andreas Blomqvist, who again shines by making a strong case for memorable basslines. This time, however, the rest of the band have started catching up; there's definitely a more balanced sense to not just how everyone plays, but how they've been mixed together. You can immediately notice this in "Welcome to Mercy Falls," the third of what could be called the album's intro tracks. The drums have been brought up to enhance the backing rhythm Blomqvist would've previously dominated, creating a stronger overall foundation for the music. From this we're able to notice a bit more from the guitar leads and keyboards, with the latter (by Andreas Soderin) being memorable thanks to a host of recurring notes throughout the entire album.

Discussing Seventh Wonder post-Become wouldn't be complete without appraisal to singer Tommy Karevik, who could deliver the same performance on every album and still leave our ears in a constant state of climax. Yet even he took a subtly different approach for Mercy Falls, namely with regards to how he handles his enthusiasm. He's still as powerful as before, but the serious nature of the album is kept all the more in-check when he sings. It doesn't feel like he's trying to show off as much, and to compensate, we get a more palpable sense of emotion from his deliveries. This works even better when you consider the above points about the band feeling wholly balanced. Where Waiting in the Wings at times felt like a clash of proficiency, often by Blomqvist and Karevik, Mercy Falls consistently feels like a true team effort.

Mercy Falls also remains Seventh Wonder's longest album to date, clocking in at just under 75 minutes. Since the aforementioned proficiency is still in high supply (just better handled), there is a slight growing curve. One may be turned off by the inital batch of spoken words ("A New Beginning" and "Tears for a Son"), especially when the voice acting leaves a lot to be desired--the doctor being the weakest link. Thankfully, the album barely contains any of these after "Paradise" kicks off, beginning a stretch of tracks that dedicated listeners will eventually find themselves engrossed by. Like Waiting in the Wings, Mercy Falls contains a 9-minute song ("Break the Silence"), only this time it's a captivating piece, and just one of many shining moments in what may end up being the band's bleakest album, ironically enough.

Third time is definitely the charm for Seventh Wonder. After establishing an strong, enthusiastic groove on Waiting in the Wings, they found a way to tighten their music on Mercy Falls. Where before things nearly sprawled out of control, here they learn the value of direction and focus. This approach allowed their music to hit harder thanks to an overall sense of concentration. Concept albums may be a dime a dozen in progressive metal, but Mercy Falls earns a spot among the best, modern-day examples.



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user ratings (206)
Chart.
4.2
excellent
other reviews of this album
Manon (5)
Seventh Wonder's masterpiece....

Wamwig (4.5)
While not revolutionizing the prog metal genre, Seventh Wonder's third album is easily their best on...

ZomarK (4.5)
A fine piece of work that all metal heads (and all other genres) should give a chance...

DoctorVelvet (4)
Prog/power near perfected....



Comments:Add a Comment 
Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
March 5th 2016


1437 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Starting writing this with the intent of giving it 4/5, but as I listened to it more, I began to like it even more, enough to rate it higher than WitW. Actual rating would probably be 4.2 or 4.3

EvoHavok
March 5th 2016


7680 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review! This band can do no wrong since Tommy joined.

Digging: Children of Bodom - Hexed

jybt
March 5th 2016


359 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I actually think the voice acting from the wife is great. Her lines on the first track really choke me up, and I think it's not just from the emotional weight of the words. She sounds empty, hollow, helpless.



The doctor isn't particularly bad but he simply cannot compete with the wife.

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
March 6th 2016


8876 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I still remember the chills I felt when Tommy started singing. Definitely one of my all-time favorite albums.

Digging: Ni - Pantophobie

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
March 6th 2016


1437 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

@jybt: The wife isn't bad, but it takes a lot to convince me when voice acting is incorporated into an album.

Ocean of Noise
March 6th 2016


10529 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Amazing album. I find the voice acting does interfere with the music a bit at times, though.

Digging: Agalloch - The White

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
March 6th 2016


1437 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Also, anyone else get a big Scenes from a Memory vibe at the beginning of "Destiny Calls"?



@Ocean: I agree, I prefer concept albums that let the music do the speaking, that's just one little reason I loved the new Avantasia.





Titan
January 13th 2017


19242 Comments


'Also, anyone else get a big Scenes from a Memory vibe at the beginning of "Destiny Calls"?'

i'm getting a big Scenes vibe from the whole thing, which is a good thing.....funny how i was thinking that and then saw your comment

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
January 13th 2017


8876 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

But these guys have Tommy

Ocean of Noise
January 13th 2017


10529 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

One Last Goodbye is the best song ever.

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
January 13th 2017


8876 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Your soul will fade like a rose in the dark



But your memory remains

Ocean of Noise
January 13th 2017


10529 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The ending of that song

Fuck

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
January 13th 2017


8876 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Hide and Seek and A Day Away are still my jams

Ocean of Noise
June 21st 2017


10529 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Best album ever?

Shadowmire
June 21st 2017


4623 Comments


do i have to check this?

Ocean of Noise
June 21st 2017


10529 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Depends. Do you like cheesy, poppy, yet will-written and moving prog metal? If so then hell to the yes.

Shadowmire
June 21st 2017


4623 Comments


well it's probably fun at least so i'll check it out soon

Ocean of Noise
June 21st 2017


10529 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Fair enough. It is definitely fun and catchy as hell.

Shadowmire
June 21st 2017


4623 Comments


i quite enjoy karevik's vocals

Ocean of Noise
June 21st 2017


10529 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah he's amazing. You've heard him in Kamelot or?



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