Prequels are commonplace for books, movies and even TV shows. But how often do you come across a music album that has a prequel?
Boston-based metal band Seven Spires released their second album, “Emerald Seas” on Friday.
In an interview with The Daily Free Press, Adrienne Cowan, lead singer for Seven Spires, described “Emerald Seas” as a prequel to the band’s first album, “Solveig.”
“In ‘Solveig,’ there are two characters. One is a lost soul that is wandering in the underworld and the other main character is the demon who rules the underworld,” Cowan said. “So ‘Emerald Seas’ is the prequel, and it’s the backstory to the demon character when they were still a human.”
Cowan said “Emerald Seas” was a milestone album for the band because it was the first album they created while signed to a record label.
“This has been a really interesting experience,” Cowan said, “seeing how the numbers have changed and our reach has grown.”
“Emerald Seas” gives the details and background to the story told in “Solveig,” starting right off the bat in its first song.
“Igne Defendit” sets the tone for the album. The distant-sounding voices harmonizing in the background of the song, combined with the percussion, French horn and string parts, give the song a very nautical and mysterious sound that lives up to the title of the album, even after just one 2-minute song.
“Ghost of a Dream,” the second song, continues establishing the tone and story of the album. The demon character, one of the two main characters in “Solveig,” is still human in “Emerald Seas,” Cowan said. The listener can pick up on this difference even without knowing the full context of the demon’s story.
While “Solveig” had a dark and almost underworld-like sound to it, “Emerald Seas” feels brighter, more mysterious and even tempting to listen to at times.
“Ghost of a Dream” also features some interesting musical moments, including times when castanets are prominent, which is not an oft-used instrument in this type of music. At some points, acoustic and electric guitars work in tandem, which gives the song a whole new layer, making the song feel like a symphonic metal tango.
The next song, “No Words Exchanged,” also features experimental moments that bend the barriers of genre. Cowan said “No Words Exchanged” is “almost not even really a metal song” and draws inspiration from the electronic music trio Nero.
“I was listening to so much of their discography and this really loving, intimate scene appeared in my mind and I had to write about it,” Cowan said.
The influence from Nero is clear as the song features electronic vocals layered over the metal base, giving the song a mysterious effect with a creative spin.
“Unmapped Darkness” offers a chance for the versatility of Cowan’s voice to come into full view. The beginning of the song feels almost gentle, like a lullaby with a bit of a kick to it. But the song shifts gears quickly, picking up as Cowan sings in a way that is more characteristic of most metal music. The way Cowan switches between these vocal styles is nothing short of amazing. The song also features an impressive guitar solo, courtesy of Seven Spires’ guitarist Jack Kosto.
Released as a single in November 2019, “Succumb” is undoubtedly the catchiest song in the album. While it’s a good listen on its own, “Succumb” is even more rewarding in the context of the full album. It becomes part of a story, rather than just a song.
“Silvery Moon” is another song that fits in perfectly with the nautical feeling of the album. It feels reminiscent of a sailor’s lament while on a journey at sea.
This message is aided by the unique instrumentation of strings and piano at the beginning and end of the song and the rhythm, which makes the song feel like a ship bobbing in the waves in the middle of the ocean. It also helps that the melodic line feels enchanting and inviting, as if a siren was singing it.
“The Trouble with Eternal Life,” the song just before the finale that packs one final punch and brings the story towards a close. The lyrics indicate that the story of the demon character’s backstory is drawing to a close. The lyric, “Follow the songs that the sirens sing / until we’re together again,” points the listener to the original “Solveig” album to continue the story. Everything about the song feels like a finale, a perfect wrap up to the continuous story told by “Emerald Seas.”
Seven Spires will be playing at the Palladium in Worcester on March 14 on their North American tour with Finnish death metal bands Insomnium and Omnium Gatherum.