SEVENTH ANGEL, Heed the Warning – Live (2005, Bombworks)

The skull:
What we have here is a Photoshop catastrophe that could only grace the cover of a thrown-together compilation. Although I applaud the band for selecting only flying Vs, and only Jacksons at that (even if one of them is a King V, of which I generally disapprove, and with a fixed bridge no less!), they could have found better than these bottom-of-the-barrel imports, especially as they clearly just grabbed these jpgs off the ‘net somewhere. The skull is muddled and ugly, and the background went at least four Photoshop filters too far. But to me, the most confusing aspect of the whole thing is the radiation symbol. This is a Christian band, so you’d assume that the epynomous warning has something to do with sin or Jesus or something, and not… nuclear war, which, by 2005, was already a pretty distant threat. But hey, no one ever accuses Christians of timeliness, so I guess it makes as much sense as we could expect. And half of the music on the album is from around 1990, so maybe this title is just short for Did You Heed The Warning? You Did? Great! Then I Guess Everyone Gets To Live.

The music:
Seventh Angel are a long running Christian thrash band who are not as good as the best of their kind (Believer, basically), but who can hang pretty comfortably with the likes of Tourniquet and Deliverance, which is to say they’re not that good, but they’re also not completely horrible. Seventh Angel have always hung their hook on their “doom” aspect, but I think you’d have to have lived a pretty sheltered musical life to call this doom metal. Of course, a lot of Christian thrash fans DO live pretty sheltered musical lives, so it all makes sense. Yes, there are slightly more slow parts in your typical Seventh Angel tune, but there are tons of thrash bands who slow it down just as much, and nearly as often, and no one would ever call them doom. In any case, this release is a compilation containing a four track demo from 1990 and some live tracks recorded Lord knows when. They don’t appear to be mixed at all, but as soundboard recordings go, the quality is perfectly fine, and the band is tight enough that you won’t hear many mistakes. You also won’t hear a lot of great music, because that’s not what put Seventh Angel on the map, but if you only jam for the lamb, and you like your metal a little more rugged than Sacred Warrior, then you almost certainly aren’t reading this blog, and if you were, you’d almost certainly already own this, so why go on?
— Friar Johnsen


CLAIRVOYANT, Curse of the Golden Skull (2011, self-released)

The skull:
Seriously? What’s the title of the album? Curse of the White Skull? Is that it? No? Then print the fucking thing in yellow or something! I’m not asking for gold leaf on a self-released CD, but for fuck’s sake, is a little title/image congruity too much to ask for? Unless… maybe the curse of the golden skull is color blindness? Woah.

The music:
I’m not gonna lie: I didn’t expect much from this. I mean, look at it! This has “shitty demo” written all over it. But, it’s a reasonably good slab of Running Wild style power metal. It might even be about pirates, but I don’t really care to examine the lyrics so closely as to find out. It’s a bit rough around the edges, as you might expect, and as cheesy as any Running Wild inspired band has to be, but the music is about 10000000x more professional than the cover art. The singer reminds me a little of Stefan Schmidt, of Jester’s Funeral and Heavatar (and one other band I won’t mention), doing his euro Hetfield thing. He’s got enough range to deliver catchy melodies, and not much more, but he works well with what he has, and fits well with the rigging. The rest of the band have their shit together, too, and the guitarists in particular play well together. After releasing this album, the band changed names to the even worse Wölfrider, but they’ve yet to follow this with another full length. Still, good new power metal is thin on the ground these days, so while you wait for the next Solar Fragment disc, maybe these Poles are worth checking out.
— Friar Johnsen