While Jack Frost’s unexpected removal from Savatage may seem like negative, in all actuality (musically) it appears to be a blessing for the talented guitarist. “Passage To The Other Side” by Seven Witches is the kind of disc Savatage has not come close to recording since “Hall Of The Mountain King”.
Recruiting Helstar’s James Rivera into the fold on vocals was a tremendous acquisition. Rivera’s vocal screams are still in the same league as they were on the “Burning Star” release from almost 20 years ago. Don’t believe me, just take one listen to “Mental Messiah”. He still possesses a certain sinister side to his vocal phrasings that make the tracks all the more wicked.
Much of “Passages To The Other Side” recall “The Dark” era Metal Church and “Painkiller” era Judas Priest. Frost’s guitar heroics are of the meat and potatoes variety that should satisfy any traditional metal fan. Mixing thick riffs with piercing solos on “Fever In The City” the song segues from fast and furious to mid-tempoed and back again. The cover of Def Leppard’s “Wasted” is powerful and sad reminder of what the mighty Leps has been reduced to recording such drivel as “Slang” and “X”.
Hopefully, Seven Witches will be able to do some touring for this release. Rivera’s vocal performance on this disc may be the best of his distinguished career (considering how highly I regard the first two Helstar discs in the history of metal that is a bold statement from myself). Frost and company have quite possibly recorded the best pure heavy metal release in the new millennium.
1) Dance With The Dead
2) Mental Messiah
4) Apocalyptic Dreams
5) Fever In The City
7) Last Horizon
8) Natures Wrath
9) Wasted (Def Leppard Cover)
10) Passage To The Other Side