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15th June 2017
After a decade in existence, and with a new album that's been aptly titled 'Decennium', Seven Kingdoms are still proudly flying the flag for unpretentious power metal. Fast-paced, fiercely heavy and rich with melody, songs on the record might be all about generic pastiche, but it's an energising, entertaining and exhilarating ride from start to finish. Utilising online crowd-funding means to finance the album's recording, they reached double their original target... proof enough that they have a ready-made audience hungry for their music. And the band, themselves, were seemingly hungry for a Bacon Explosion. Guitarist Camden Cruz reveals all to Metal Discovery...
(Camden Cruz on the new Seven Kingdoms album, 'Decennium')
"The album... was not written to be a musical masterpiece but, rather, a fresh, modern reminder of what fast, classic power metal should sound like. To us, this album was all about bringing the speed, force, and melody back to the forefront."
Seven Kingdoms - promo shot, 2016
Interview by Joshua Jaeger
Photograph copyright © 2016 - Evan Dell
Thanks to Andy Turner for arranging the interview
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METAL DISCOVERY: I’ve read various reviews of your latest work, with nearly all raving about the high quality. Have you received fan feedback? What are people saying?
CAMDEN: We are so happy that, basically, everyone seems to really be enjoying the new album! This album is all 100% all the time; I think the only thing we didn’t do on purpose was create more of the dynamic of more rhythmic changes with slower songs, or different riffs. The album, however, was not written to be a musical masterpiece but, rather, a fresh, modern reminder of what fast, classic power metal should sound like. To us, this album was all about bringing the speed, force, and melody back to the forefront. We are thrilled with the final product, as are many people!
MD: I think the most unique story going into bringing ‘Decennium’ to life was the method in that, rather than working with a record company, you guys used Kickstarter for funding. What prompted you to do this?
CAMDEN: Well, to be honest, that was the only way to really get it done financially at the point the band is at now. We had to do things ourselves for it to pay off and it has so far! We have kept our eyes open on what is changing within the industry and I think the idea of crowdfunding, in general, is a huge part of the future.
MD: How was this any different or similar to recording and writing, while working without a record company?
CAMDEN: It really is no different. A record label usually doesn't have much say into what the band produces musically, so we always just do our own thing. The only difference this time, really, was we go to spend more time recording and we didn’t come home broke! Haha…
MD: Are there any traditions that you follow during the process of putting together an album?
CAMDEN: Honestly, at this point, we just mostly go with the flow. I guess we always start out with riffs, then it goes to drums and bass, then vocals and lyrics. Once we have the demos down and everything titled and in order, we go in and record and shine it up. The only actual 'tradition', I guess, would be the grilling of the Bacon Explosion, a grilled meat concoction that only gets made every time we record, haha. Luckily, that’s only every few years, otherwise we would all be dead!
MD: What would you consider the biggest struggle this time around, either creatively or otherwise?
CAMDEN: It’s mostly being a small fish in a new pond, I’d say. From about a year or so ago til now, and continuing through, this is somewhat all uncharted territory, for me, personally. So just learning a new way of handling things and being in charge of more is really the newest experience. I think we will start writing a little here and there as well, come soon, while we are looking for tours.
MD: What is the overall theme of the cover art? Do you feel this image is conveyed through the music on ‘Decennium’? Also, do you have any secrets or Easter-eggs hidden within?
CAMDEN: We really just wanted something spacy and sci-fi, with lots of bright colors. We wanted to do something a little different than other bands typically have, as far as color scheme and design. I guess you could say that each song represents a planet in our artwork, and the swirling tracklisting is pretty cool vs. the standard list!q
MD: Listening to ‘Decennium’, one of the most impressive tracks is ‘In the Walls’, with amazing key changes and the impressive range in Sabrina’s vocals. Do you wish to share any techniques on how you piece together a song like this?
CAMDEN: Kevin wrote most of this song. He always has a great vison of what a power metal song should sound like and this was one of the first songs he did for the record. He wrote it to be fast and catchy, and then we worked on it as a band and with Jim Morris in the studio to make it what it is today.
MD: Was the stylistic move from a ‘thrash’ style into more European influenced power metal a creative decision or a more natural process?
CAMDEN: It’s funny because I never really pinned our band into the thrash side of things, even though we have 'moments', I guess. I think the more classic power metal sound is what we all do best, but we always have some moments of thrash everywhere.
MD: Your work has historically had many of George R. R. Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and fire’ references and themes throughout, but what would you say also influences your works? H.P. Lovecraft, perhaps?
CAMDEN: We have always had a strong ASOIAF reference but, for sure, Kevin is very attached to some of the H.P. Lovecraft stories, which gave us songs like ‘In the Walls’!
MD: You have taken your brilliant act on tour in the US recently and have performed alongside Evergrey. How was that experience?
CAMDEN: It was a great tour! We were able to meet many new fans and it was, overall, a great experience and tour for growth for the band!
MD: Do you have any specific bands that you enjoy touring with the most? Do you have a dream band that you wish you could share the stage with?
CAMDEN: I would, honestly, at this point, just dream to tour with a band that we can open for that is drawing thousands of people and they all like our music! Whoever that is, that’s the band for me at this point! Haha…
MD: Do you have any wild or bizarre stories you’d like to share from your most recent tours in 2017?
CAMDEN: The booking agent for the tour we just did for Evergrey actually fell out of the bunk right at the USA border patrol office. He’s totally fine now but he broke his nose in two spots, and had a mild concussion. He passed out when he was inside the border office getting checked and they ended up taking him to a hospital to be checked out. Everything is great now, but that was for sure a road story! Haha…
MD: The release of ‘Decennium’ could be regarded as a celebration of your tenth anniversary as Seven Kingdoms, but what else is in store for the band now? Any plans to celebrate ten years of Seven Kingdoms?
CAMDEN: We are doing that all year and next year! Haha. Right now, we are looking to next year, trying to book a European tour and get some festivals down. After that, it’s back to writing to get a new record out!
MD: Thank you for taking the time to go over these questions, we really appreciate it! Can’t wait to see you guys on tour!
CAMDEN: Thank you for your time and support of the band! Hope to see you in your neck of the woods soon!