Review

SEVEN KINGDOMS Decennium

Album · 2017 · Power Metal
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4/5 ·
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American power metal act Seven Kingdoms have certainly left it a long time to come up with their fourth full-length album Decennium (2017). The follow-up to The Fire is Mine (2012), the album release marks the ten year anniversary of the band. I believe I read somewhere a few years back that the band were aiming for their next album to be released to coincide with the milestone. Don't quote me on it however, though I do have a recollection of feeling great disappointment at finding out that there were still years to wait for the follow-up to the excellent The Fire is Mine. Most bands would probably have been able to make their fourth album in the meantime and then lined up their fifth for the ten year anniversary rather than wait a whole half of their existence to release a follow-up. Finally the ten year anniversary of Seven Kingdoms is upon us, and the long wait, no matter its actual reasoning in case I dreamt that last bit, means that a lot is riding on Decennium to deliver.

Whether it does or not will really depend on what each listener is expecting or wanting to hear from it. If more of the same as The Fire is Mine sounds good to you, then Decennium is just that. It's polished yet guitar driven melodic power metal, topped off by Sabrina Valentine's excellent vocals. As far as a straight up power metal album goes you can do far, far worse than what Seven Kingdom's have served up here. It's basically like The Fire is Mine Part II, it's that similar in style. It's the kind of sound that makes me smile and it's undeniably a cut above the norm for the genre, with tracks such as In the Walls, Castles in the Snow and Neverending quickly establishing themselves as highlights. They also never resort to any balladry or slower songs, which is an area where many power metal albums trip up and lose their momentum. Just fairly hard yet melodic power metal from start to finish. In many cases for this genre, it's exactly what the doctor ordered.

However if you recall that over the course of their first three albums Seven Kingdoms were able to produce releases that each had their own identity from each other then Decennium may instead come across as a stark disappointment, as you'll find that trend has come to an end with this album. I shouldn't really be too surprised by this outcome as the band's sound has most certainly become more streamlined power metal since the debut album Brothers of the Night (2007), which featured male vocalist Bryan Edwards, gradually losing influences from melodic death metal and thrash metal, but I supposed a part of me hoped that I'd be proven wrong that this would be the case when album number four eventually arrived, especially given the amount of years the band have made their fans wait for Decennium. It leaves me with a single thought: 'they made us wait five years for this?'.

Or you could be in the middle group, which is where I find myself, where you acknowledge that both the above arguments have merit. I have to give credit where credit is due, because Decennium is a very well made power metal album, but I also have the unshakeable unfulfilled expectation of it being something more, preferably adventurous (this feels very safe) but at least something with its own feel once again. It's excellent, though perhaps a bit less memorable overall than The Fire is Mine due to the songs tending to blend into each other more. I'd even go as far to say that for a straight power metal album Seven Kingdoms have delivered a benchmark release for 2017 that others will have to beat, but that doesn't change that I've heard all their prior work and know that they can and have done better albums.
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