Friday, October 31, 2003

Review: 7th Moon - Alter Alma (2002)

7th Moon
Alter Alma
Icarus Music

Halloween 2003 has arrived, and what better way to "celebrate" the season than to wrap oneself in the haunting melancholy of a Gothic metal CD? Originating in 1996 as a project of guitarist Carlos Collazo and bass player Sergio Delgado, 7th Moon has evolved into a potential innovator of the genre. Incorporating the sounds of Lacuna Coil, early The Gathering, Amorphis, and Tristania into their debut album Alter Alma, 7th Moon creates a woeful soundscape worthy of comparison to any of the aforementioned bands.

While being particularly partial to this dark style of metal, objectivity forces me to state that Alter Alma does very little to further the genre or to give 7th Moon their own identity. Temper their limited originality with superb musicianship and the unbelievable voice of Sonia Carles, and you can't help but comprehend the boundless promise of these Spaniards. Throughout the album, Sonia's unwavering passion and depth of feeling as she delivers her memorable vocal hooks is absolutely remarkable. She reminds me more of Amy Lee from Evanescense than, say Anneke Van Giersbergen or Liv Kristine because she's firmly in the mid-range and rarely ventures into operatic bounds. Sonia also delivers the contrasting harsh vocals that are common to this genre of metal (although kept to a minimum on Alter Alma), providing the band with a bit of distinction.

As far as stand-out songs go, I'd have to start with the very catchy chorus of "The Eternal Flight". The lush atmosphere that opens "I'm The King Again" is fairly reminiscent of recent Amorphis. Heavy on the effects, this track also offers some fine leads by Carlos and great bass lines from Sergio. Next up, "Land Of Rain" is one of my favorite songs on the album. The catchy hooks and prominent snare drum weave a fine foundation for Sonia and the lavish keys of Albert Gómez. The band experiments with some interesting timings, yet manage to keep things moving along at a relatively active pace. "The Mermaid Chant", also a favorite for me, opens with one of the most up-tempo riffs on the album. Sergio delivers some very prominent lines, his bass and the complex work of drummer Oriol Basqués being focal points.

A solid album, Alter Alma lacks only that bit of innovation to set it apart from the many other good albums of the genre. As a debut, the disc is worthy of note for the quality of musicianship displayed and the promise of great things to come should 7th Moon choose to venture out from their influences and evolve in their own right. Fans of the genre, however, will be pleased with Alter Alma.

Track Listing
1Love, Sweet Death
2The Eternal Flight
3I'm The King Again
4ALand Of Rain
5The Shine Of The Unknown
6The Mermaid Chant
7Man Lives Apart

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