Seventh Wonder
Tiara


3.0
good

Review

by Xenorazr CONTRIBUTOR (120 Reviews)
November 30th, 2018 | 12 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Deep down we strive to be more than we are.

Seventh Wonder haven’t had the easiest time breaking into the spotlight. From a debut that did little to reward curious listeners, to three stellar albums released within two years of each other, to an eight-year LP hiatus--likely due to singer Tommy Karevik joining the more established Kamelot in 2012, it would seem that timing (outside of music) hasn’t been one of the band’s strong points. As such, 2018’s Tiara has been a long time coming. 2010 was the last time Seventh Wonder graced us with a new collection of tracks, and if the breadcrumb singles “Inner Enemy” and “The Promise” released between then and now were any indication, then whatever followed would undoubtedly bring the goods. And while there are certainly goods to enjoy, they’re less savory and fulfilling than what fans may expect.

Unsurprisingly, Tiara is hardly a departure from previous Seventh Wonder outputs, with “The Everones” coming into the fray a la “Wiseman” from The Great Escape, right down to the opening guitar/synth rhythm. It instills an immediate sense of deja vu, which is less than ideal when attempting to be as objective as possible. This is compounded by the track’s slower tempo and less dynamic production when compared against its spiritual predecessor. Once we move past this distracting intro, Tiara quickly unfurls into what could be described as somewhat middling. Put more simply: “The Everones” leaves an appropriate first impression. When the allure of listening to new music wears off, what we’re left with during Tiara’s first act is something that represents Seventh Wonder without doing them justice.

The good news is that this representation has a mostly sound foundation, mixing an accessible blend of progressive and power metal together with an extremely talented group of players. Even at its most extravagant, Tiara remains collected and only indulges during the occasional climax. This results in a sound that strikes a nice balance between fun and intrigue, with just enough layers and experimentation to lure listeners in without coming across as overbearing. Yet Seventh Wonder already took a similar approach on their last album, with Tiara taking the overall simplified strides even further. Subsequently, Tommy is the real star of the show this time, putting out a positively rousing performance that demonstrates his vocal chops in all the right ways, be it his high-pitch belt at the end of “Dream Machines” or impending cries which initiate “Exhale.” Yet simply calling Tommy the highlight highlights one of the album’s surprising shortcomings: production.

The issue isn’t that Tiara sounds bad--it doesn’t, but that it comes across as stilted and bizarrely impotent. None of the instruments feel particularly lively in the mix, not even the synths and keys, which have a tendency to fog things up when they take over (see “Victorious”). Curiously, the kick drums are more pronounced than the bass guitar, which exists for the sake of a backbone rather than being a key player in the show. This is where the conflict of relativism versus objectivism once again comes to mind; should Tiara be considered on its own merits, or held against its predecessors, which “broke the mold” so to speak with their mixes" Even the guitars, which often assume one or both roles in the bread and butter act of metal, come across as muffled. It may seem strange to put such an emphasis on how Tiara’s production can get in the way of the music itself, especially since the album goes for a glossy veneer, but if the music isn’t allowed to shine in a way that it otherwise could or should, then it ends up feeling far less satisfying.

So let’s say the production was better, how then would Tiara hold up" In all honesty, it’d still be a bit of a mess. Most of the best moments are individual stretches or sections, instead of entire tracks; “Dream Machines” and “Tiara’s Song” mix enjoyable verses with blase choruses, “Damnation Below” only gets interesting during its throwback-featuring climax, you get the idea. The closest Seventh Wonder come to complete standouts are “By the Light of Funeral Pyres,” with its frenzied pace being just right for its length (3:55) and the aforementioned “Exhale,” which closes the album on a high, prog-heavy note. What really bogs the album down when listened to in its entirety is the second act, comprised by the “Farewell” tracks and “The Truth,” because apparently having two ballads in a three-part suite simply doesn’t provide enough saccharine to go around. To be fair, ballads can and do have their place, but not back-to-back like poor to mediocre installments in a horror movie franchise. Best-case scenario the album gets a nice break; worst-case scenario things are bogged down so much that listeners may skip a few tracks due to annoyance and bored. Tiara leans on the latter. Heavily so.

By the time Tiara liberates us of its sloppy second act, we begin to get a glimpse of an album that could have truly been excellent. And while these last 20 minutes are enough to leave a positive final impression, they don’t exactly nullify the at-times confounding nature of the preceding 50 minutes. If Seventh Wonder had toned back the aforementioned ballad overdose and injected more vitality into the production, then Tiara may have felt like a justified continuation after eight long years. Instead, the jump feels like going from an older, fully featured car to a newer base model; inviting and exciting, but neutered and fleeting.



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user ratings (48)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
November 30th 2018


1438 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Review is overdue and probably not up to snuff. Just like this album.

SteakByrnes
November 30th 2018


14569 Comments


It's like they saw Erra's album art for Impulse and were like "Let's do that"

Toondude10
November 30th 2018


13827 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

and everyone though that this was going to be better than Kamelot, fucking lol



it's good for what it is, but there are other bands that do this stuff way better

Digging: Devin Townsend - Empath

bloc
November 30th 2018


55050 Comments


"It's like they saw Erra's album art for Impulse and were like "Let's do that"

Lmao right? I called that shit when they announced the album art for this

Digging: The Chemical Brothers - No Geography

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
November 30th 2018


8940 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I really loved these guys and didn't want to be disappointed. Though, in hindsight, the singles should have been an indicator.

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
November 30th 2018


1438 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

@Toondude: Here's the thing, this IS better than The Shadow Theory. But it's also more frustrating.

teamster
December 1st 2018


4051 Comments


Listened to this once, it is good. The album art is awesome. Excellent review and thanks.

Scheumke
December 1st 2018


528 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Yeah this needed a review. At first I found this to be at least better than The Great Escape, but it has fallen off rapidly for me. The talent is there, Mercy Falls remains one of the best records ever made imo, but they've had a hard time showing any of that in the last 10 years. It's good, but not compared to what they have showed they can do.

Digging: Glen Hansard - This Wild Willing

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
December 2nd 2018


1438 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

TGE felt a bit shaky at first, but each listen made it a bit more enjoyable. This is quite the opposite; the more I listen, the more difficulty I have enjoying it as much as I'd like to.

TheNotrap
December 2nd 2018


10219 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

The album has some nice melodies here and there but the music is rather generic

Digging: Allegaeon - Apoptosis

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
December 2nd 2018


8940 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Great Escape and Mercy Falls are neck-and-neck when it comes to their best, they're both monumental accomplishments in the genre. In retrospect, it's hard to have any album top/meet those expectations, but this just feels so flat in comparison.

Fowo
December 3rd 2018


255 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review, and very true. Mix is bad, unfortunately. The album structure is not very good, unfortunately. The only reason I still consider this a good album are few moments where band (especially Karevik tho) show that they've got it somewhere there. Beyond Farewell is pretty fun. Truth starts as classic proggresive whatisthisthing song, but female vocal melodies make up for it.

Long story short, the only thing that really saves this album for me are vocals, still they can't be heard well because someone didn't know how to mix it so they put everything behind some curtain.

Idk, it's a weird album and I'm still not sure what to think about it



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