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Ivanhoe - '7 Days' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/84/5a/d1/Ivanhoe-7-Days-89-1462650194.jpg Hot

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Could be something you'll grow to like if not love.

Over the years, I've always had a soft spot for Germany's Ivanhoe. I have admired the way that even with a revolving door of members, the band have still been able to put out, year after year, quality Prog Metal albums; '7 Days' continues this winning streak.

After the departure of the band's last vocalist Mischa Mang, Ivanhoe have recruited Alexander Koch (Spiral Tower) to take his place and I have to say it's an inspired choice. Part Andy B. Franck and part Geoff Tate, Koch brings a strong, forceful presence to this new release and the band seem to relish in this and the music they play, whilst dark, dramatic and moody, is some of the best I think they have recorded.

After the "it's now "European Law" to have one" intro ('Alert'), the band launch into 'Light Up The Darkness' and 'No Sorrow', two songs with broodingly dark guitar riffs and sweeping synths, that when joined with Koch's vocal's bring to mind Queensr├┐che circa 'Empire'. 'Overrun' follows and it's one of the faster songs on the album and again we find Koch leading from the front.

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'Innocent' features the wonderful keyboards of Richie Seibel, a haunting ballad sung from the heart and in a sea of Metal, this song is an island of calm against the oncoming storm. This storm is unleashed in the form of the title track. With its mercurial guitar work, shadowy keyboard fills and sinister bass and drums, this one epic song sums up the whole album. Koch (again) is on fire, yet it's the previously mentioned musical elements that, when put together, make this track a joy to listen to.

'Dancing With A Ghost' is the most different song on the album, with a violin/fiddle solo and an orchestra backing the band which gives a whole different slant to the Prog Metal of Ivanhoe. Lastly, to finish things off, comes 'Left Behind'; seven minutes of heavy, menacing Prog Metal, full of strident riffs and acerbic vocals, this is a very forceful way to bring this release to a close.

Now I have to say that even though '...Days' is an album that falls into the Prog Metal category, it's one that not every fan of the genre will like. The overall pace of the album leans towards the slower side of things and there is an overall darkness and melancholy that saturates the songs which, combined, doesn't make this an easy album to listen to. Given time and a chance however, Ivanhoe's '7 Days' could be something you'll grow to like if not love.

Ian Johnson

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