The third and final installment of the song-by-song breakdown of Seven Second Circle’s album, Divide. This album has brought forth a joy in knowing that Progressive Rock and Neo-Progressive rock co-exist in the same way that breathing and oxygen does. Highly recommend you getting this album and visiting their site to hear their music and absorb what I have several time over by now and will continue to do so in the future to come.
Choral and attentively building is how this song opens up to us. The droning keyboard and vocal harmonies call upon for penitence as it bays to the world. The drumming reminiscent of Led Zeppelin’s When the Levee Breaks brings our attention to the forefront and take heed and bear witness to the song becoming a slow burn on the album. It moves like an abandoned boat on the waves of a rough sea never getting to shore and making to its final resting place beneath the waves in a watery grave that speaks to no one. Coming to the surface is what this song does and reaches to the sky above only to be dragged back down in to waters. That does not say this song has drowned in the mire of a soundboard’s mixing console, the exact opposite. I found it to be very much a protruding track on the album. Never taking flight like the other songs have but this one remains a grounded piece of Prog that incorporates elements that make it that slow burn on the record which is necessary. It leaps and bounds in smaller steps but that doesn’t make it any less a triumphant track here. The lengthy fade out here gives you that sense of isolation of asking if there really is anyone out there. Be it in; space, your street, your world, your mind.
Reaching through a strain of pain withered memories the vocals make their final ditch effort to be on top but are pushed aside by the every changing and shifting world that waits for no one.
All My Life
A tight dirty guitar riff opens up this track with assurance that it’s only the beginning of what will become a song a true dictation to the life it now leads. The vocals, a command performance of stout and determination lead forwards and belts out the strife it’s endured of the agony from which it’s come from. The upswing of the bass strikes down like the edge of a large axe repeatedly as if a Viking awaits his chance to swing at his enemies with discord and strength. The drums fill the air with an ambience of running through the lines and crashing the gates of the opponent as the snare hits are unforgiving as they pelt us with their snap and contention. Yet the battle never took place, like a dream gone wrong, but we are intervened by an angelic keyboard refrain that calms the savagery of the song’s lament. Keyboards never play a large role in SSC’s music but definitely the band has recognized their place and has applied this technique appropriately whenever they use and never drown out songs in a swamp of over saturated synth pretensions. Like with other SSC songs the fade away has become a style and sound of distinction creating a diversity of never drowning out the songs with an overkill of mediocre musicianship. Each member of the band has carefully crafted themselves again on this song and the 1:39 left in the song given to the keyboards spins like a jewelry box with a ballerina twirling as it fades to stop and become silent. A poignant fitting end to a song that gave so much from so few was brilliant here. The final cymbal roll calls for the curtain to be closed.
Centre of Nothing
Sullen eyes entrance here by the bass and drums till a drop in triad of voices starts off with the feeling of insanity, uncertainty and maybe a hint of anxiety. The casual feel of this song lets us fall in to a waltzing flow as it whisks us away again. This song keeps true to form with its swirling and flowing myriad of vocals and instrumentation. It plays out as if we are being led down a path to emptiness and a black hole to unknown territory. But it also has a Buddha in the room of telling you that you are not alone and not just a nameless face in the crowds and that the song tells you that IT is the nothingness that you don’t have to be. Every piece of this song wounds up at the same place at the end and leaves you going home feeling that you’re ok and tomorrow you will wake up still ok.
Upswing and bright bristling guitar opens this one up full scale attack of brightness. Again another ode to Rush I find here which is an awesome feeling to hear other bands sound like themselves but remind you of some of my hometown heroes.
The vocals are equally as alive here as the music and it creates a spring in its step as the guitar continues along with the triplet riff. Then we’re blessed by the drums and bass kicking in to fulfill the recipe for that again 80’s King Crimson Prog sound. But it also has accents of bands like; Asia, UK and IQ in there as well to qualify it for the running of the bulls here. Again, SSC never emulates or imitates their forefathers and mothers in Prog but embraces their essence in this song as they have throughout the album. Halfway through the song stops its brisk walk and slows right down to a sombre like crawl as the keyboards quietly swing inwards and the guitar pulls from its effects of mild flange and the drums walk along in the puddles after the rain. The bass slinks its way in and out and hits the root notes to call it a day as the vocals call upon the angels to carry it to sleep. This is a great example of the Neo-Prog sound where it completely changes mid song and slowly fades in to obscurity. The fade away has become somewhat of a signature in some SSC songs and it brings back a theme of yes they can play longer or cut it short on you but can also let you enjoy the ending of the song like a sunset over the ocean.
We close out with an unspoiled ending to the album with the song, The End. No, not a Morrison-Doors cover here but a swansong of amassing sound. The cello adds a brilliant addition to the finale and to what appears to be a string quartet in a couple of bars later and it spins such a pleasure to this song. Classical instruments are a key component to traditional Prog Rock, just listen to your: Pink Floyd, Gentle Giant, King Crimson, Genesis, Camel, Pineapple Thief, Mahavishnu Orchestra, etc records and so it was a hats off to these bands and others like them for SSC to use this element as nice surprise to finish off with. The acoustic work again is classical in its tone and fluidity. The doubling up on acoustic guitars is stunning in the tone they provide here. One of my favourite vocal tracks on the entire album, albeit said every vocal track on the album has been nothing short of great and powerful. The troubadour chant comes back and brought along harmonies that are a treat to fulfill a destiny of sound. The lack of drums and electric bass per se is also a kind way of saying that the drummer and bassist are probably doing another instrument here and it encapsulates the multi talents of the entire band. This would be a wonderful track to go in the middle of their set to offset the balance of light and dark over and undertones to their show. Yes I am drawing from my days of overdosing on Led Zeppelin bootlegs when I was 16 but I can’t help but be paused in a lull on this song as a brilliant closing track to a great album. The band was right on the money putting it as the final blessing/offering to our audio palettes. It incorporates the stylish fade away again and goes to a silence that stems your brain to do one thing only…. Play the album all over again. As much as the entire album is a; rocker, journey, quest, trial, an expedition in to vast realms and the human psyche but The End isn’t really the end is it? No, but merely the beginning of a promising start to a great band and a great group of guys who appreciate their Prog rock bands they grew up with and have stepped to the plate and took the reins to give us the 21st Century Schizoid Men they are and what they do.