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Seven Witches Xiled To Infinity And One

By Daniel Höhr, European Correspondent
Thursday, February 7, 2002 @ 8:28 AM


(Sanctuary)

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After changes in the line-up, Seven Witches now present their third studio album which seems to mark the beginning of a new era in the band's short history. Founder and guitarist Jack Frost, who also worked with bands like Metalium, Bronx Casket Co. and Speed before he was recruited by Savatage, Crimson Glory singer Wade Black, drummer Brian Craig and bassist Billy Mez (Single Bullet Theory) have recorded an album that reminds us that there is more to metal than image and three chords, namely good guitars, exciting rhythm parts, power and exceptional vocals that you won't find in any other rock music genre.

The opener, "Metal Tyrant,” which is rooted in uncompromising Priest-style metal, is a statement of what real metal is all about and sets the tone for the whole album: fat guitar sounds, speedy drums, kick-ass rhythms, impressive vocals and a lot of power. The motto is "we're taking back the metal" and Seven Witches really mean it. The complete album is fast, apart from the title track, which contains some quieter passages and adds a little bit of atmosphere to the album.

Xiled To Infinity And One is foremost dominated by Jack Frost's driving rhythm guitar, providing the basis for songs that have power without being noisy, speed without being rushed through, heavy staccato riffing without sounding monotonous, great lead guitar parts without self-indulgence and melodic vocal lines without sounding cheesy. Everything on the album is well-balanced and even when singer Wade Black, whose voice has an enormous range but stays under control all the time, goes up into the higher regions, he does so without showing off or breaking glass. At the same time he shows versatility and feeling, virtues many metal shouters seem to neglect these days. It's hard to single out special highlights, because all ten numbers are good, but personally speaking I really like "Salvation" with its high vocals and driving riffing, "Pain,” a track with a heavy stomping feel and the cover version of Grim Reaper's "See You In Hell,” which features a guest appearance by Joe Comeau (Annihilator), who shares the vocals with Wade Black.

A word about the production sound: Xiled To Infinity And One was produced by Jack Frost himself and he has achieved an overall sound that is crunchy, clear and well-balanced at the same time. A special mention goes to the cool drum sound (fantastic snare!). The mix of the album was, by the way, in the capable hands of Joe Vera (Armored Saint, Fates Warning, Engine), and he's done a fantastic job as well. You can really follow every instrument throughout the album.

Xiled To Infinity And One is a great album of what I'd like to call the American Renaissance of True Heavy Metal (something which includes Armored Saint's Revelation and the latest Virgin Steele double release). To me, one of the highlights of the year so far.

*****


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