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VII Gates - 2003 Fire, Walk With Me

Criss Blackburn - vocals
Robert Makek - guitars
JJ Rockford - guitars
Tim Diaz - keyboards, guitars
Moe Ason - bass
Mick Van Slowfoot - drums

Ok folks, this is where it's at for me. I'm finding it more and more difficult to find quality melodic rock/AOR releases, while time and time again I can turn to the melodic metal genre to quench my thirst for fresh blood. Previously it had been the likes of Twilightning and Supreme Majesty punching my buttons. Now I have VII Gates to drive the winter blues away. There's a ton of old school metal on offer with the slick production and melody that this style of metal needs. Cheesy? Perhaps. Fun? Bloody Oath!!!

The Songs
Vocalist Blackburn serves notice straight away that he can either shatter glass or crush vertebrae with an excellent and varied performance on 'Bonded By Hate'. The song is pretty heavy with Criss singing clearly during the verses, but then changing to a more aggressive high pitched Rob Halford approach to the chorus. Great stuff. I wonder if VII Gates had been listening to a lot of early Nocturnal Rites when writing 'The Saviour', which stacks up well against their Swedish counterparts. 'Under The Crossed Bones' is another beauty in the N'Rites mould. I'm starting to hear quite a few similarities, and that probably explains why I'm enjoying this album so much. We can keep the Swedish comparisons for 'So Far Away', but this time Amaze Me might be more suitable. This track is a pure melodic rock semi-ballad with one of the most memorable choruses heard in some time. 'A Dark Room Of My Mind' is the moodiest track with a long intro before erupting with a majestic riff. Headbanging heaven!! I wouldn't have been surprised if 'Like A Rock' was a cover of a Dream Evil song, the likeness being so strong. And just like Dream Evil, this track is catchy as hell. You can the hear the heavier side of Dream Evil on 'Love Ballet'. Crunchy riff and memorable chorus.

In Summary
I've stacked VII Gates up against some of my favourite melodic metal bands and they compete admirably. Tracks such as 'Under The Crossed Bones' and 'Bounded By Hate' are melodic metal at its very best. The production is bloody awesome as well. There are a couple of tracks that stutter a little, namely 'Tormented' and 'The Madman Inside', but only briefly. I've walked through the fire with VII Gates, now its your turn.

Track Listing:
01 Bounded By Hate
02 The Saviour
03 Seconds Left To Live
04 Under The Crossed Bones
05 So Far Away
06 Tormented
07 Love Bullet
08 A Dark Room Of My Mind
09 Like A Rock
10 The Madman Inside

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