"Call Upon the Wicked" (Candlelight; 2011)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

Seven Witches is back with their latest endeavor, "Call Upon the Wicked." Rejoining Jack Frost and company this time around is James Rivera, whose high-pitched wailing vocals set the tone for this 12-track release, assisting the thrashing backbeat and sharp riffs in liberally borrowing from all things Judas Priest to create this 60-minute metal marathon.

Chock full of histrionic vocals and blazing solos with a touch of progressive metal’s inexplicable buoyancy, the latest album by Seven Witches serves up a hearty batch of durable heavy metal that offers few surprises but yields a whole lot of room for headbanging and horn throwing (“End of Days”).

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"Years of the Witch" DVD (Screaming Ferret; 2006)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

I really like what Seven Witches does. The band plays heavy metal the way they'd want to hear it. And, for the most part, it works.

This DVD has lots to offer long time fans of the band. It features a full-length concert performance, a history of the band, interviews with bandmembers and those behind the music, archived concert footage, photos and more. 

The included concert has a great set list (although, like all set lists, it could be argued that some songs should have been included that weren't, and vice versa) and the band is tight and rocks hard. Unfortunately, the picture is rather soft and the sound quality just so-so; it almost looks and sounds like a good bootleg. And maybe that was the point. Maybe the band wanted their fans to see the band at their most raw. If that's the case, they certainly succeeded. Despite a great performance and a first rate editing job (and ignoring the cheesy and unnecessary video effects), the concert portion of this DVD is less than I would have expected.

The bonus features, on the other hand, are actually very interesting. First, the sound quality and picture quality improves (for most) and, second, guitarist Jack Frost offers a lot of interesting tid-bits into the making of the band's album, while introducing a few people that work in the background but, as Frost says, make Seven Witches what they are. The photo gallery is also worth a look, as is the archived concert footage (the quality of which is, obviously, a step down from the other footage contained here but is interesting for its historical value).

Seven Witches fans will find the entire package captivating even though I, personally, would have liked a higher quality version of the live show contained herein.

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"Amped" (Candlelight; 2006)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Once again, we've got a new Seven Witches CD and, surprise, surprise, a new band line-up. In fact, only the band's centerpiece, Jack Frost, returns from the band's excellent previous effort, "Year of the Witch" (although Jeff Curenton did perform with the band on their "Year of the Witch" tour).

"Amped" starts with a misstep. "West Nile" plays like an Iron Maiden song telling the world about an evil curse put on mankind and that curse just happens to be the West Nile virus. Don't get me wrong, the West Nile virus is serious, it's just not the black plague, at least not yet. So the song comes off as trying too hard and, while the music is tight and strong, it just doesn't quite work.

Thankfully, it's followed by one of the strongest tracks on the CD, "Sunnyvale High" and things, for the most part, stay pretty strong from that point on. Tracks of note include the aforementioned "Sunnyvale High," the poignant and powerful "Widows and Orphans" and a cover of Billy Idol's "Flesh for Fantasy." Lesser songs include the token ballad "Be."

"Amped" is a pretty strong, although somewhat unremarkable, Seven Witches CD. Throughout, "Amped" just doesn't feel as inspired as "Year of the Witch" although it may be unfair to compare the two, considering the completely different line-ups. Still, I liked almost everything on the previous CD better than I like what's on "Amped." The production was richer, the songwriting was better and I really liked "Year" vocalist James Rivera's unique style. Alan Tecchio (formerly of Hades) does just fine here but with a more straight-forward metal sound.

In summary, "Amped" is a successful addition to Seven Witches' considerable catalog, but it's a notch down from the band's high of "Year of the Witch."

Seven Witches: Jack Frost - guitars; Kevin Bolembach - bass; Jeff Curenton - drums; Alan Tecchio - vocals.

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"Year of the Witch" (Noise/Sanctuary; 2004)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

"Year of the Witch" is one of those rare but welcome CDs that grabs you from the very first track and holds you enraptured through the entire recording. A lot of this has to do with the CD's opening tune, "Metal Asylum," which is a heartfelt anthem to the bands that helped create and develop the heavy metal sound. It's as irresistible a tune as there can be and, once it comes to a close, you're ready for more from Seven Witches.

Thankfully, the band delivers. That inspiring anthem is followed by the solid title track and then the Judas Priest flavored "Fires Below." Of the remaining two songs on "Side 1" (more about that in a minute), "If You Were God," written by former Megadeth member Dave Ellefson, is the highlight, a powerful, poignant rocker (not a ballad!).

Now, back to that "Side 1" comment. "Year of the Witch" is really divided up into two sections. The first section plays like a normal CD - a group of songs that are really separate from one another. The second section is a seven song "concept album" entitled "Jacob." Although "Jacob" is only about half of "Year of the Witch," with another tune or two, it could easily stand on its own. Although it feels a little awkward having a concept storyline as only part of a full-length album, "Jacob" manages to tell its story completely and with rock solid power.

As one might expect, guitarist Jack Frost is fantastic here, taking metal clichés and building upon them, making them become something more than just something someone else has played a million times before. Vocalist James Rivera does his Ronnie James Dio voice in the foreground and sometimes adds his King Diamond voice in the background. The result is captivating and original and gives the CD added depth.

The songwriting, as usual, is above average and this time out at least part of that can be attributed to Joey Vera, who co-wrote six of the CDs 14 songs.

Yes, there are those who will complain that "Year of the Witch" doesn't really explore any new ground but I, for one, am thankful for that. This CD is exactly what I wanted to hear from Seven Witches and the fact that I've listened to this CD at least every other day since I received it - without once getting tired of it - is evidence enough for me.

Seven Witches: James Rivera - vocals and soul; Jack Frost - guitars, vocals and heart; Dennis Hayes - bass and Miller Light; Craig Anderson - session drums;  Jeff Curenton - tour drums.

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"Passage to the Other Side" (Noise/Sanctuary; 2003)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

In typical fashion, "Passage to The Other Side" features a Seven Witches that's 50% new. And, in typical fashion, the band pulls off another great CD, despite the troubles plaguing them.

Joining guitarist Jack Frost and drummer Brian Craig here are veteran bassist Joey Vera (Armored Saint, Engine) and veteran singer James Rivera (Helstar). The fact that all of the band's members are veterans certainly shows in the final product. "Passage to the Other Side" is a strong metal CD that can be described as a unique blend of Judas Priest, Megadeth and Ronnie James Dio.

Despite some standout tracks, however ("Betrayed, "Wasted" and the unique title track) "Passage to the Other Side" doesn't quite click as well as its predecessor. Don't get me wrong, it still kicks solid metal ass - it just doesn't do it like "Xiled" did.

The band likes to say that "Passage" has a more modern sound than "Xiled" did but I'm not sure I agree. I'd say they're pretty close in the era department. However, "Passage" just doesn't reach out and grab you by the throat like "Xiled" did. It's not quite as forceful, I guess. Then again, that may be something that subsequent listenings may prove inaccurate.

But enough about "Xiled." The fact is that "Passage to the Other Side" still rocks hard and most heavy metal fans will be thrilled with it. It never lets up, energy-wise, and the heavy metal chops are all here: the pounding drums, the crunchy guitars, the blistering leads, the throbbing bass, the powerful vocals.

Despite the latest line-up changes, fans who have followed Seven Witches throughout their career won't be disappointed. And neither will those who like their metal powerful and pure.

SEVEN WITCHES: Jack Frost - guitars; Brian Craig - Drums; Joey Vera - Bass; James Rivera - Vocals

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"Xiled to Infinity and One" (Noise/Sanctuary; 2002)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

This is the third studio album from Seven Witches ... although it's really not. Confused? Don't be. It's just that the band, founded by guitarist Jack Frost, has gone through so many line-up changes that this is virtually a new band.

Sometimes, when you hear about a band going through band members like the proverbial dung through a goose, it's a bad thing. That can mean that there's so much in-fighting and creative differences between the members that the final product can only be disjointed and nowhere as solid as it should be. Rest assured, that is not the case with "Xiled to Infinity and One."

Bringing to mind the glory days of Judas Priest and others, Seven Witches serves up a CD chock full of the stuff that makes metal metal. Chunky rhythm guitars with razor sharp leads. An irresistible, spine-thumping bassline. Powerful, mountain-shaking drums. And a vocalist with a range like that of a screaming banshee.

Fortunately, "Xiled" isn't just another band that wants to sound like Judas Priest trying to sound like ... well, like Judas Priest. Seven Witches takes that legendary sound and tweaks it creatively, adding unique guitars, a different songwriting style and lyrics that often delve deeper than one might expect. 

And the beauty of it, throughout, is that every single track kicks you solidly in the ass.

Add to that a cover of the classic Grim Reaper tune, "See You In Hell" (featuring guest vocals by Annihilator's Joe Comeau and a bonus track, "The Burning" featuring Savatage's Jon Oliva on vocals and you just can't go wrong.

SEVEN WITCHES: Jack Frost - guitar; Wade Black- vocals; Brian Craig - drums; Billy Mez - bass.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2011 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11 Sep 2022 13:46:19 -0400.