"A Fortress Called Home" (Frontiers New Recordings; 2024)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

A Fortress Called Home is unlike anything I've heard this year ... or maybe even maybe many years.

It's a 12-track collection of progressive metal/hard rock/symphonic metal and whatever-the-hell-else-you-want-to-call-it tracks that mix together what sounds like an epic rock opera, complete with beautiful female vocals, clean male vocals and screeching evil vocals scattered throughout. It's got furious bass, crushing drums, and guitar work that will melt your face off. Every song is epic, as if each one is the show closer in a big Broadway production. I hope this doesn't piss anyone off but A Fortress Called Home sounds like the soundtrack from a Disney Princess movie that takes place in Hell.

The production is crisp, clean and bigger than life and the juxtaposition between the clean and not-so-clean vocals—both male and female—is shocking and effective.

My favorite tracks are "Almosttown," in which the vocals just go off the scale in brilliance, "Architect of Creation" which sounds like it could come from Satan's version of Disney's Fantasia, and "House of Lies," where, once again, the female vocals shine like a beacon.

I'm not sure I've ever heard Seven Spires before but, man, am I glad I have now. I'll listen to this epic record a lot, and I need to go back and find the band's previous material as well.

Seven Spires: Adrienne Cowan - vocals, orchestration; Jack Kosto - guitars; Peter de Reyna - electric and upright bass.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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