Seventh Wonder
The Great Escape


4.0
excellent

Review

by Xenorazr CONTRIBUTOR (115 Reviews)
March 13th, 2016 | 25 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Comfortable holding back.

Time is an important part of progressive music. The genre leans towards lengthy songs, and attention must be made to keep the listener interested without turning into sensory overload. From 2005 to 2010, Seventh Wonder made impeccable use of their time; Waiting in the Wings showcased them in a bright, reinvigorated light after a sloppy debut; Mercy Falls tempered that same light, resulting in arguably the band's best release to date. As for The Great Escape, their most recent effort" Well, this was an interesting turn for the band. Not in the sense that they took a drastically different approach, unless that's what you constitute going from concept album to non-concept album as. Rather, The Great Escape shows Seventh Wonder doing what they do in a way that feels different from all of their prior efforts, yet it somehow harkens back to them all the same.

From a technical standpoint, this is the best Seventh Wonder have ever sounded. The instruments are clear and distinct, with Johan Liefvendahl's guitar leads finally achieving a sense of prominence. "Alley Cat" features smooth guitar playing, even at its most punctual, as if to be less abrasive and more accessible. In fact, going from three comparatively muddy albums to The Great Escape can feel a bit jarring. One driving force behind this is the album's mixing, which is by all counts and measures excellent, except when it comes to demonstrating Michael Blomqvist. I've previously gushed over Seventh Wonder's talented bassist, undoubtedly thanks to the previous three albums constantly putting him front and center. He's a key reason the music felt so distinct. The Great Escape does not, however, showcase him in that same light. Blomqvist's performance is still top-notch, but his immediately remarkable moments aren't in high supply. This isn't to say that he's been shoved aside like Jason Newsted on Metallica's ...And Justice for All--that'd be disingenuous, it's just harder to pick up on him than before.

Such a shift in direction may be a blessing in disguise, since The Great Escape is, for all intents and purposes, Seventh Wonder's balancing act. You get the impression they wanted to refine their sound, avoid making one member consistently steal the spotlight, and focus on delivering a host of material to illustrate their changes. Indeed, one word that repeatedly comes to mind while listening is actually "casual," with the ballad-like "Long Way Home" being a defining example. Even when tapping into its most progressive elements, The Great Escape never feels demanding, especially when it houses Tommy Karevik's irresistible voice on each track (all six of them). This combination of factors grants the album an extremely accessible identity, not just for the band, but for metal and progressive music in general. This is primarily where the similarity between it and Waiting in the Wings comes into play, since The Great Escape is almost completely upbeat, from the strong opener ("Wiseman"), to the aformentioned "Alley Cat" and the rousing, penultimate "Move On Through."

As I've mentioned, the album is oh-so cleanly produced, almost to the point where it could put off some more established fans, even if the music is tightly crafted and avoids descending into overindulgence. Yet this is still a progressive piece, and if any doubts settle during one's initial run through, the final track will see those doubts swiftly crushed. Clocking in at over 30 minutes, "The Great Escape" is the ultimate testament to Seventh Wonder's ambition. Yet just like the preceding tracks, "The Great Escape" isn't set on knocking the socks off your feet with epic, cinematic aspects you'd otherwise find in a group like Dream Theater. Instead, it's all about the five band members playing in a way that suits them. The results are natural and mostly unpretentious, though I'll admit it lacks that bone-chilling or euphoric climax that makes you want to return and experience the whole thing all over again.

Seventh Wonder had all the right tools in place on The Great Escape, and for the most part, they realized much of their potential. Like any good progressive album, there's enough variety in and between the small selection of tracks to leave any listener fulfilled. The music sounds nice and crisp, forgiving and completely inviting; yet it also has the structure and depth one would expect from an even more established group. The Great Escape doesn't quite fire full-blast and on all cylinders, which may or may not be for the better. This depends on how much restraint you think a progressive album should have. Outside of the title track, there's not much of a "loose" feeling, and even then it's hard to label such an epic as overzealous. Ultimately, Seventh Wonder's fourth effort is a strong contender for a newcomer's foray into contemporary progressive metal. The first five tracks are a nice, proper warm-up to the full-fledged closer that gives listeners a more-than-hearty meal. How good you'll feel afterwards is something you'll need to experience yourself.



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user ratings (196)
Chart.
4.2
excellent
other reviews of this album
porcupinetheater (5)
The Great Escape shows an already outstanding band reaching their absolute potential....



Comments:Add a Comment 
Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
March 13th 2016


1318 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

These guys are not easy to write reviews for.

Lord(e)Po)))ts
March 13th 2016


39659 Comments


i can tell by the way that this is that it is bad and that willie would like it

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
March 13th 2016


1318 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

How dare you!

Lord(e)Po)))ts
March 13th 2016


39659 Comments


:]

EvoHavok
March 13th 2016


7566 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice read, Kenneth! I wonder when they'll release the next record.

CalculatingInfinity
March 13th 2016


8432 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Tommy completely makes this band.

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
April 23rd 2016


1318 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Apparently Tommy had an interview recently where he said a live recording of Mercy Falls should be getting released and that despite the work between two bands and a full-time job (he's a firefighter if I remember correctly), he's working on new SW material, that as soon as they have something to officially announce fans will be in the know, and to "stay tuned." So new material is being worked on, it's still probably going to be a while. I think 1-2 years should be a pretty safe bet.

EvoHavok
April 24th 2016


7566 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That's great news!

Titan
January 12th 2017


18988 Comments


'i can tell by the way that this is that it is bad and that willie would like it'

literally laughed out loud

Ocean of Noise
January 12th 2017


10184 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hahaha yea quality comment

Digging: Khanate - Clean Hands Go Foul

Titan
January 12th 2017


18988 Comments


on track 3....pros and cons so far, but im definitely interested

Ocean of Noise
January 12th 2017


10184 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Fair enough man. Their sound isn't for everyone but I think you'll come around to appreciate them given your taste.



You should check out Mercy Falls ASAP if you enjoy this.

Titan
January 12th 2017


18988 Comments


it will be next

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
January 12th 2017


1318 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Yeah, it took me a while to get used their particular blend of prog/power metal, but once I did I went from viewing them as competent but awkward to really solid. They have the catchy appeal of power metal but the growing effect of progressive metal.

Titan
January 12th 2017


18988 Comments


i hear a little Threshold in here

MarsKid
January 12th 2017


7042 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

These guys are amazing

Titan
January 12th 2017


18988 Comments


amazing how you bump an album and some of the lurkers come out lol

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
January 12th 2017


1318 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Hey, getting even one more potential fan for SW isn't a bad thing :D

Titan
January 12th 2017


18988 Comments


i will have some ratings in a week or so.....almost up to the t/t here

MarsKid
January 13th 2017


7042 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I didn't know I was a lurker, I've loved these guys for quite a while.



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