Seventh Key - The Raging Fire

Year of Release: 2004
Label: InsideOut Music America
Catalog Number: IOMA 2077-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 56:04:00

Seventh Key's The Raging Fire is a rocking, cool AOR release of a very classic 80s rock sort, bringing to mind folks like Journey, Survivor, Loverboy, .38 Special, Night Ranger (maybe these last two especially), and a host of others that flit through my mind. No, it's not really anything you haven't heard before, but these guys play this "kick-ass" rock with such conviction and sincerity that you don't really care. Besides, they aren't retreading any particular song from that era, though you can hear bits here and there that trigger thoughts of other bits there and here. Okay, maybe the Loverboy and Survivor references are a little out of whack of what's heard here, but... certainly the music here evokes the time and place when those very bands were "ridin' the airwaves." What's different this time out is that all the songs are new to this release (some of the tracks on the debut Seventh Key are tracks originally written for Kansas but not used).

Seventh Key are Billy Greer (Kansas) on bass and lead vocals (and great vocals at that) with Mike Slamer on guitars, bass and keyboards (guitar solos abound, keyboards provide just the right accent, though never do they dominate in the mix); Jamie Thompson on drums (driving and powerful, never overwhelming the mix) and Terry Brock on background vocals. Kerry Livgren guests on the bonus track "I Remember You Well" (a sunny, cheerful piece that comes on the heels of a dark piece, "Winds Of War").

This is the kind of stuff I was raised on, and so listening to this CD takes me back to my high school days. It's big, ballsy and heavy classic rock. I dig nearly every track here - really every track - though my favorite is the title track, which is the most Kansas-like to me ("An Ocean Way" is very close second; the rest of the album bunched up at third). The ballads ("It Should Have Been You," for example, which reminds me of "Sister Christian" to some degree) aren't simpering or saccharine, yet do have just the right amount of sensitivity. "It Should Have Been You" is followed by the perhaps sexist-ish "Run," which uh ... sounds for a moment as if they are going to launch into "Pour Some Sugar On Me" (Def Leppard). Its companion in groove is the catchy, if a tad cliché, "Sin City." A Kansas feel, if a little heavier maybe (maybe) is the crunchy "Pyramid Princess." And what album would be complete these days without middle-eastern figures? Well, of course, with pyramids, would you not expect that? (Okay, I don't think they appear in Alan Parson's Project's "Pyramid" track, but that was a pyramid of a different sort). And not to keep making Kansas comparisons, another track that fits into that mold is "Winds Of War," a track is ostensibly about the current conflict in Iraq, it is generic enough in its theme to really apply to any time and place of conflict.

The album kicks off - truly - with the fiery, spicy sing-a-long-able "The Sun Will Rise." Follows this with a tasty power ballad in "Always From The Heart" that would have been a monster hit 20-something years ago (and really could be if classic rock radio picked up on it). "You Cross The Line" begins with dark atmospheres, sparse guitar, and vocals. And a strange thought came to me, as I thought a bit of Marillion ... certain early passages of the piece recall the This Strange Engine/Brave period, before the ballsy, heavy, chunky AOR elements really kick in (guitars grind, percussion shimmers). Think that Marillion reference seems out of place...? The intro vocals to "Always..." made me think of Kamelot's Khan. But hey, this is just the associations in my head. "The Ocean Away" is an arty, groovy piece - very much like Kansas. It's an epic piece, that underscores a touch sentimentality; a hardened ballad.

Great stuff, this Seventh Key. A thoroughly enjoyable release that keeps moving from the first moment to the last. Steady, consistent, with a great flow - and great production. One of the highlights of 2004 to be sure (yes, I know its now 2005 as I write this).

(The bonus content is a 9-minute plus interview with Greer and Slamer and a video of the track "Always From The Heart")

The Sun Will Rise (4:37) / Always From The Heart (5:11) / You Cross The Line (6:47) / An Ocean Away (4:29) / The Raging Fire (5:59) / Sin City (5:08) / It Should Have Been You (5:25) / Run (4:17) / Pyramid Princess (5:18) / Winds Of War (6:05) / Bonus Track: Remember You Well (4:57) / Bonus Multimedia Tracks: Always From The Heart ? Video / Video Interview With Billy Greer and Mike Slamer

Billy Greer - lead vocals, bass
Mike Slamer -guitars, keyboards, bass
Jamie Thompson ? drums
Terry Brock - backing vocals

Seventh Key (2001)
The Raging Fire (2004)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: May 16th 2005
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1141
Language: english


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