Seven 13

Unleashed

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    5
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The debut album by Boston's Seven 13 is a convincing platter of melodic hard rock with a progressive edge. The songs lack some originality, but they are well written and well performed, plus a handful of melodies will actually stay with you after two or three spins. The group's sound is dominated and defined by lead singer Kenneth Michael and guitarist Justin Ballard. Michael pushes his pleasant voice intentionally too hard to give it that typical heavy metal roughness, trying to emulate Metallica's James Hetfield it seems. Ballard's crunchy riffs and solos (nothing spectacular in that department) fill the sound spectrum, close to obliterating Amanda Adams' piano contributions -- the wild card in the context of this group. The rhythm section of Brian Verrochi and Bryan Bales delivers the goods, anchoring the music in a squared-down hard prog base. "Drink!," "Out of Control," and "Whenever You Close Your Eyes" provide the best moments, while "Venus" and "Dianne" are too trapped in genre clichés to grab attention. It's funny how some of these songs seem to have been written with a pop group in mind and later dressed up in heavy metal fashion. Production is good for a debut album, although the mixing job leaves little chance to the keyboards and backing vocals.

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