Album of the Week 51-2011: Seventh Angel – Lament For The Weary

As much as I despise the festive season, for you, my valued reader, an album of the week that fits these days seems appropriate. The fact that the British Thrashers of Seventh Angel are christian fits the religious origins of today’s holiday and the overall dark and somber mood of their masterpiece ‘Lament For The Weary’ responds perfectly with my opinion of the day.

Let’s get back to what counts: the actual music. On ‘Lament For The Weary’, Seventh Angel is essentially a Thrash band, but mixes that with a distinct Doom vibe. A combination that works surprisingly well. That much is already clear when the downright brilliant instrumental opening track – with one of the best song titles ever – ‘Recollections Of A Life Once Lived’ kicks in. Especially tempo-wise, the Brits take you through a lot of interesting twists and turns, which accounts for a satisfying listen more than once. The sudden bursts of speed in the chorus in ‘Full Of Blackness’ feel like a shot of adrenalin and the intro to ‘Dark Shadows’ is fantastic in its seemingly accellerating intro, only to turn into a midtempo stomper quickly. And that speedy ending to ‘Woken By Silence’ is just pure Thrashing bliss.

Two things on this album make the atmosphere. First of all, Ian Arkley’s vocals truly sound tormented. His style is not quite clean, yet his vocals aren’t exactly grunts either. Situated somewhere between Tom G. Fisher, ‘Spiritual Healing’-era Chuck Schuldiner and Lemmy in his best years with a few clean bits, he has a voice that is gruff and forceful. When he sings “I have nothing left to live for / All my friends have forsaken me” (‘Life In All Its Emptiness’), I believe him. His choice of words may help in that matter as well. Seventh Angel may be a christian band, but with the lyrics being poetic rather than preachy, the themes are universal. Even to me as an atheist. I mean, don’t we all long for salvation in one way or another?

Secondly, there are these brilliant lead guitar lines over simple, yet effective doom riffs. This combination creates a sound not miles away from what Paradise Lost was doing at the time, only combined with faster paced Thrash passages. Some of these lead melodies are simply breathtaking and so are the guitar solos. Neither Arkley or fellow guitarist Scott Rawson will ever be mentioned in one breath with an Yngwie Malmsteen or a Steve Vai – except for just yet maybe – but they never play any notes that don’t need to be there, always playing in service of the song and laying down a weary atmosphere that you can’t help but be sucked into.

Remarkably, all the instrumental tracks are interesting and among the album highlights. The title track is a short acoustic instrumental, but ‘Passing Of Years’ and the aforementioned ‘Recollections Of A Life Once Lived’ are well-written, well-structured and just enjoyable listens that enhance the general concept and atmosphere.

In conclusion, if you – like myself – think of the holidays as nothing more than dark days, you should consider putting on ‘Lament For The Weary’. It’s one of the few Thrash masterpieces of the early nineties and finds the perfect balance between Seventh Angel’s more Thrashy debut ‘The Torment’ and their Doom-oriented, yet almost equally brilliant comeback album ‘The Dust Of Years’. Don’t let the religious label the band gets scare you away from them, because to be honest, with these guys, it only enhances their music.

Recommended tracks: ‘Recollections Of A Life Once Lived’, ‘Life In All Its Emptiness’, ‘Full Of Blackness’, ‘Woken By Silence’, ‘Farewell To Human Cries’

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