7AT releases Sophomore effort
Pacific Northwest hard rock juggernaut Seven Against Thebes (7AT) deliver the most intimately produced rock album to emerge from Seattle since Alice in Chains’ Dirt in their brand new record Art of Deception, which is out everywhere independent music is sold now. While the mass media’s interest in their scene has started to wane, Seven Against Thebes have been quietly building up a reputation for unleashing pure intensity in their work, which has ranged from the simple (their debut EP) to the extraordinarily calculated (their self-titled album). Their latest effort is quite possibly their finest, and their diehard fans will be left very satisfied.
Art of Deception is built around a somewhat conceptual theme, but the real blood and guts of this record come exclusively from drummer Bruce Burgess and guitarist Cyrus Rhodes. Both Burgess and Rhodes bring veteran experience to the table, and their intense chemistry generates a sonic tour de force that bassist Mr. Black and singer Rusty Hoyle manipulate with stunning charisma. The massive riffage blends right into the percussion in tracks like the self-explanatory “Killing Time” and the brash blues of “Slave 2 the Needle,” but the clarity and depth of the individual instruments never gets lost in the firestorm.
In breaking down the lyrics contained in Art of Deception, we find a direct connection between the prose and the sense of urgency implied by the pace of the music. We’re constantly being reminded in Hoyle’s vocal pleas that time is of the essence, and if we are to come along with Seven Against Thebes on this epic journey, we’re going to have to keep up with their furious tempo. Even in the slow drone of the opening track “MMXXII,” there’s something pushing us forward, warning us of danger lurking just behind our backs, as if waiting to pounce when we’re least expecting it.
A carefully trained ear will definitely notice shades of the Melvins in Seven Against Thebes’ sound, but this is far from a post-grunge affair. I’d even go as far as to say that the band has made an effort to avoid the stigmatic elements that would date their sound to the 1990’s. There’s too much rhythm and adaptive grooves for this to be labeled a traditional alternative rock album in the retro sense. Seven Against Thebes’ music might have historical roots, but their style is firmly planted in this generation and its technologically efficient practices.
Seattle is one of the most diverse music scenes to behold on this planet, and as someone who has spent the better part of his life living, working and supporting the scene, I can attest to the impact that Seven Against Thebes’ music has had on Seattle. There’s something to be said about a band that maintains its core narrative and direction even when everyone else is abandoning their ethos, and that’s one of the more momentous takeaways I had from Art of Deception. They’re keeping the city’s hard rock heart beating, and from where I’m sitting I don’t see any end in sight for this highly skilled crew.