Yeah, any Tiara review’s opening will use the 8 years time span between Seventh Wonder‘s last record, The Great Escape, 2010, and Tiara. Is it more or less tacky to go meta? Anyway, eight years! That builds expectation. Especially as the Swedes have never disappointed with their albums, putting out prog metal opus one after another. Granted, after the epochal Mercy Falls from 2008, there is little left to be said. The band could have stopped right then and there with one of the greatest prog metal albums of all times in their catalogue. Fortunately for us, we are still getting new stuff, even though at a relatively slower rate than in the ’00s. Part of that is surely singer Tommy Karevik’s engagement in Kamelot, which seems to have left little time for his true home. Let’s shed no tears here though and get instead rejoice that we get another Seventh Wonder record after all with the band in peak form and Tommy exercising the whole range of his prowess.
Just like on Mercy Falls and opposed to The Great Escape, Seventh Wonder add a few rather storytelling and calm moments in between the heavy prog/power songs of Tiara. Representative of that is the double ballad whopper of “Beyond Today” and “The Truth” right in the middle of the album plus a few calmer parts in the longer tracks. This is a smart move, it portrays more of the album’s diverse side than Seventh Wonder‘s intricate progressive metal already is doing, and makes it feel the mighty 70 minutes feel like way less. But fear not, there is more than enough classic Seventh Wonder material to be found on Tiara.
Through the course of 2018, the band released three singles, “The Everones”, “Victorious” and “Tiara’s Song”, of which the latter actually is Part 1 of a Trilogy entitled “Farewell”, with the subsequent parts called “Goodnight” and “Beyond Today”. In the context of the album, those three tracks depict Tiara‘s style perfectly. There’s the very Mercy Falls sounding “The Everones”, demanding, ambitious, yet catchy, but far from cheesy, which is joined in stylistic likeness by “Dream Machines” and “Damnation Below”, two more classic progressive metal tracks. “Victorious” and “Tiara’s Song” portray the elaborate power/prog tracks of Tiara. There’s a lot of sweet melodies to be found on Tiara which are edging on a melodic metal kind of corny, but the band’s excellent handling of arrangements and virtuoso drum patterns and guitar riffs keeps the songs on a straight forward track of prog metal excellence. “Victorious” is a good example; the chorus could very well be found on a classic power metal record, but fortunately the arrangements make it so much more interesting than a simple melodic metal piece.
A lot of Tiara‘s tracks rely on that ambitious interaction of sentimental melodies, often piano-lead, and difficult prog metal compositions. “Against The Grain” presents one of the catchiest choruses of Tiara, but is seasoned with some spicy prog patterns. “Goodnight” doesn’t go soft on the sentimental aspect of Seventh Wonder‘s music, with lyrics and music complimenting each other in drama, but just like with Mercy Falls‘ dramatic story and tracks, it just works perfectly. Think of “Tears For A Father”: cheesy or movingly poignant? That’s right, Seventh Wonder know how to make the coin fall with the hauntingly beautiful side facing up.
Shortly before the album’s longest track “Exhale”, the less-than-4-minute “By The Light Of The Funeral Pyres” comes over to kick your ass after reveling in the sweet, calm sounds of “The Truth”. Now that’s a great power metal intervention if you ever needed one. Alas, all albums must come to an end, and with “Exhale”, Seventh Wonder end on a rich, diverse 10 minute epic of the kind for which we have learned to love them.
Actually, the whole of Tiara is just one long song. Never in recent times have I listened to an album beginning to finish that many times. Once you start with a track, even if you just wanted to hear the sweet chorus of “Tiara’s Song”, you’ll get into the groove of the album and decide to just listen to the whole thing. Tiara is incredibly varied, yet concise and uniform. Don’t expect a second Mercy Falls, but it is close. Please, don’t let us wait 8 years again.