7 Rivers - Path Of Fire

Year of Release: 2002
Label: self-released
Catalog Number: 7R7088
Format: CD
Total Time: 44:05:00

7 Rivers is based in the New England area, but listening to their sound, they seem more influenced by southern rock. The two bands that came to mind most often in the southern/country rock genre were .38 Special and the Eagles, though often darker in tone. Most especially, if you take some the harder edged Eagles material from albums such as, say, Desperado and One Of These Nights, you'll have some idea of what they sound like. And yet, that doesn't really give you the whole picture, because here's what else came to me as I was listening to this CD, and they are decidedly "unsouthern," especially due to geography: Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, and Alan Parson's Project. Add in America, Steve Miller, and Porcupine Tree and you begin to get an even clearer picture of the 7 Rivers alchemy. Of the band's stated influences, only the Moody Blues and Pink Floyd are mentioned. In terms of Moody Blues, think mid-to-late period. Vocalist Ted Handrich does sound a bit like Justin Heyward, though to look at you'd think he'd sound quite different. The way his vocals have been recorded, there has been some filtering done, which gives his voice a hazy, dry sound (and thus the Parsons mention, though it doesn't have the dreaminess that a Parsons production has). With this element, any song heard in isolation would be okay, but hearing them in succession, leaves an "afterhear" of sameness, at least when looked at afar. Well, this is true of the mellower tracks. I guess because Handrich's delivery is understated for the most part, the haziness results in an almost monotone delivery.

Looking at the fine details, and in this mostly the guitars, there are some differences. The core of 7 Rivers is, in addition to Handrich on vocals, Mike Groove on guitar, bass, percussion and backing vocals, and Mike "Boka" Boisclair on drums and percussion. A number of additional musicians fill out the sound, and are often in the lead role: Rich Mosher on lead guitar, keyboards and backing vocals, Tim Miller on keyboards, backing vocals and programming, Sean Blaine on electric guitar, Jim Smith on lead guitar, and Vani Dahlgren on tamboura. The liner notes available at their website give insight to the formation of the tracks and who played what lead where. Mosher's distinctive contribution is keening slide guitar that is heard on "You" and elsewhere on the album, though, after playing this album a number of times, it feels a little overused.

The highlight tracks are "Aeroplane," which has a dark, dramatic feel. Though we hear some light acoustic accents, the grinding electric guitars leave us with a feeling of both being airborne, but that something isn't right about being so. The other is rocking track "Flood" which has a nice mix of electric, synth and acoustic guitar elements. The guitars churn darkly, giving this track a driving energy that is absent on the moodier (no pun intended) tracks. And I like the chiming intro to this piece as well. The heavy throb of "Death Of 2" is kind of cool, but would have been even better with a darker vocal delivery from Handrich. Think Soundgarden with a happy-go-lucky Heyward on vocals ? it's not a mix that works? not really? and yet it does? The element that's missing from Handrich's delivery in other songs on the album is present in the closing, title track "7 Rivers." This is has a very classic sound. That isn't to say that his tone has changed any, but how he delivers it works. The chunky guitar and bass rhythms that swirl about like a tempest are rather cool. There's a great deal of churning energy in this piece. Reading the liner notes at the band's website, this track was an experiment for the band, and one that pays off well.

Overall, 7 Rivers has a nice sound, but the way Handrich sings does get tiring after a while. For there next release, I'd go for a more natural tone. Though, if that is natural ? then they need to warm them a little more in mixing. Where they excel is the instrumentation, so I hope the whole gang's on board for the sophomore release (which the band are working on).

Oh, and despite the Pink Floyd reference? I wouldn't really call 7 Rivers prog, but sometimes that doesn't matter.

You (3:39) / Aeroplane (3:10) / Lady Luck (3:04) / Michael Doesn't Live Here Anymore (4:22) / Halloween (6:12) / Flood (3:26) / We Never See The End (3:51) / Death Of 2 (4:37) / Shadows (3:59) / Mr. And Mrs. Reed (3:34) / 7 Rivers (6:11)

Mike Groove - guitars, bass, percussion, and backing vocals
Ted Handrich - lead and backing vocals
Mike "Boka" Boisclair - drums and percussion

Path Of Fire (2002)

Genre: Rock

Origin US

Added: January 12th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.7-rivers.com
Hits: 1960
Language: english


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