CD Reviews: Review of Amped by Seven Witches

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starstarstarno starno star Label: Candlelight Records
Released: 2006
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Formed in 1999, Seven Witches has certainly been through the wringer when it comes to lineup changes. Three vocalists have come and gone, which would prompt most bands to change their name or pack it up. But not Seven Witches, who, in addition to new singer Alan Tecchio (ex-Non-Fiction/Hades/Watchtower) also have a new drummer, Jeff Curenton, and bassist, Kevin Bolembach (ex-Valkyrie and Non-Fiction). As you may be able to tell, members of the metal community get around.

Amped is the band’s sixth studio effort, and it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. The music alone is a nostalgic throwback to thrash and metal of old, but there’s also little deviation from formula and mediocre songwriting at best. Hell, the band even references Buffy the Vampire Slayer (“Sunnydale High”). I didn’t see that one coming.

As talented as the band is, led by Frost’s merciless shredding, it all just sounds too well-worn to be truly enthralling. On top of that, with all the lineup changes, this is a band that has been together for seven years (more than the average band, I’m sure) and still has not been able to find its niche. The progressive elements of their first two offerings are absent here, as they just go for the jugular for nine tracks.

The album does boast some quality metal, particularly on “GP Fix.” Extended solos and machine gun drums are always welcome these days. Seven Witches slows things down on “BE” with a meandering piano ditty and some nice power metal/ballad elements. The single is the aforementioned “Sunnydale High,” which I regard as one of the weaker offerings on Amped.

New vocalist Alan Tecchio has fantastic range, and can be brutal when need be. The production doesn’t pretty up his voice and the resulting effect is a raw and natural sound. Hopefully he’ll stick around long enough to build on this record. If there’s another fault with the production, it’s that the drums don’t really pack a punch at all. Curenton’s work is all but drowned out by Frost’s axe and Tecchio’s windpipes.

Seven Witches are clearly a solid band, but they’re also one who feels like they are still trying to find their way. If Frost can keep a lineup together, I feel that the band’s best album is still yet to come. You have to give them credit for tenacity and carrying on the tradition of the metal of old, but at the same time you’ll be wishing for a more adventuresome and envelope-pushing experience, especially with the talent involved.

~Bill Clark