Country of origin: United States
Location: Deland, Florida
Formed in: 2007 Genre: Power/Thrash Metal
Lyrical themes: Fantasy, Battles, George R.R. Martin
Current label: Nightmare Records
Keith Byrd: Drums (2007-present)
See also: ex-Cast Asunder
Kevin Byrd: Guitars (2007-present)
Camden Cruz: Guitars (2007-present)
See also: ex-This Solemn Vow
Sabrina Valentine: Vocals (2009-present)
Aaron Sluss: Bass (2010-present)
See also: Vermiform
THE INTERVIEW (With Camden Cruz (Guitars) and special input by Sabrina Valentine (Vocals)
1. I first want to start this interview by saying how impressed I am with the content of this new release. Forgive the flattery, but this literally does sound like Blind Guardian with an incredible female vocal performance. I've listened to your album twice already, and the songs are still playing in my head. For a band who started out just doing this for fun, did you ever expect to become so popular?
Camden: Haha, well thank you very much! It’s always nice to see that the album is having such a great reaction! We really like what we do and genuinely love the music. We hope that we get to play lots of shows in 2013 and bring the music to the masses!
2. Speaking of Blind Guardian, (a band which I am more than completely familiar with) they hand-picked you to open for their 2010 North American tour. What was going through your heads at that time? I mean, these guys are absolute legends in the genre, they practically had a hand in conceiving it. It must have been a life-changing experience. What was it like playing on the same stage with these guys?
Camden: It was definitely a dream come true. I always joked with Kevin and Keith the whole time we have been a band that our first tour would be with Blind Guardian. Who-da-thunk? Haha, a little band from Florida getting their feet wet for the first time, it was very terrifying the first show or too but we learned really quick! I wish we could have played another 25 dates after the last show! They were really good guys and very nice. They also had the nicest crew and tour manager ever!
3. What was the recording process like for the new album? What was the toughest part of that process?
Camden: Well it was much more together this time. There was a lot more of riff trading and just helping each other constructing a song. We also spent some time to make sure it was right. The hardest part was coming up with the cold hard cash to get it done. We have to bring our material in the highest definition possible so Morrisound is always the choice, and its right here in Tampa!
4. This question is for the frontwoman, Sabrina Valentine. First of all, I really have to say that I like what you add to the band. I know there have been a few bands out there that use the female touch with power metal (Vision Divine) but your vocals work incredibly well with the material. These days, more women are coming into metal music, which I personally think is a great thing. I think bands like Evanescence and Lacuna Coil helped to spark that seed, but it has grown into bands like yourself, Arch Enemy and Huntress, which show much more maturity and structure. What is your opinion of women in metal and how do people receive your band when you're playing shows? I hear all the time about idiots who holler obscene things in the crowd because the vocalist is a woman.
Sabrina: Well thank you! I'm glad you like what you hear. I believe in this style of music you have to have a different sound in order to be noticed among the sea of new bands that pops up every day. Being a woman is both a privilege and a challenge. Women are just as able as men and one day I truly hope everyone excepts us with open arms (just as we have the men) the truth of it is, women really look up to the men. It's like watching a big brother show you how to do things. You want to be just like them and be loved just like them... But the hard part is the way women are perceived. Your only acceptable if your beautiful (by a great percentage of the fans/media) and to the rest, you better have something that stands out or you get called a Nightwish rip off or the next blah blah blah. As far as shows go, I believe by the time we leave the stage the people who didn't think twice about us have become a fan. We have something real to offer, in both talent and in person. We are the kids next door, the ones out in our practice unit till all hours of the night writing music that we hope changes not only our lives but our fans... We are the believers and the doers that just wanted to show the world there are something's you can truly believe in, yourself. People see and feel that, and it changes them into a fan for life. Just ask Joe Foster, he'll tell you all about it :)
5. What was the worst fan-reaction that you guys have received, and how did you guys handle it?
Camden: Honestly, I’m not sure. If there was ever anything you just brush it off the shoulders ;)
6. I'm sure you guys have some great stories from being on the road. Everybody usually does. What are some interesting or funny stories that you can share with us from the tour?
Haha. if this interview is published online, here are some great videos from the Blind Guardian tour!
7. Who came up with the name Seven Kingdoms? I'm sure it refers to the seven kingdom's in George R. R. Martin's "A Song Of Ice And Fire" but was it a set name from the get-go? What were some other band names that you were throwing around at the time?
Camden: Originally Bryan approached me with the names inspired by the book series: Dragonstone, Valaria and Seven Kingdoms - I immediately said, Seven Kingdoms \m/
8. I noticed a great deal of Game Of Thrones content, not only in the band's name, but in several of the tracks including "The Fire Is Mine" which I believe is a song about Daeneryus finding the strength to get over Kal Drogo's death by making dragons rise from the ashes of his pyre. (Yes, I am also reading the books.) Who does the majority of the lyric writing, and explain the process of coming up with ideas which mirror the mythology of the series so well?
Camden: Bryan usually helps with the Martin songs, he’s a fantastic lyricist. He kinda gives us a story and we make it fit the song. It works well. Now several of us are making it through the series it could get pretty deep! Lol But other than these, we just write the stories ourselves, anything that’s cool and sounds good.
9. I also noticed an intermission track called "A Debt Made In Steel." I don't recall this be taking from the television series, so was this acted by members of the band? If so, it's a great job. You guys might want to consider acting.
Camden: Haha, yes we wanted to bring a little part of the book to life in that one, and it hasn’t been done yet so we made it, The legendary Jim Morris is actually one of the voices! Can you guess which one?
10. This is for the axemen in the band. Your solos are absolutely tremendous, on par with some of the best solos from Blind Guardian that I've played air guitar to. Could you talk a little about what equipment you use, how long you've been playing, and what bands/musicians inspired you guys to pick up the guitar?
Camden: Kevin and I have been using ENGL ever since we had the chance to own them. They are a key ingredient in our sound and we consider them the best amps on the market for metal guitarists. Kevin has been playing the longest Probably for 8-10 years? Myself I am on 6 years going on 7.
11. What are some bands that you guys are currently into in the metal scene, or in music in general?
Camden: We mostly listen to power metal in general but we also branch off a little into other genres. Aaron is our resident extreme metal guy. He usually keeps us posted on good Death, Melo-death, Black and stuff like that. There are a few local bands in the area that are good. One that comes to mind is the band Wirethrone. They should be releasing their first album in early 2013 so watch out for them ;)
12. What do you guys do when you're not playing music? Any hobbies, or interesting things that you do outside of the band?
Camden: We’re Working! Hahaha making as much money as possible to throw at our future goals. Other than that, we are video game heads, writing new music or cooking! I love to cook! I have a goal to be on food network, even as a guest, before I die!
13. Here's an interesting question. What are some ways that you think we could improve the world, or society in general? Is there anything about this generation that really irks you?
Camden: If more people listened to Seven Kingdoms! Haha nahh but honestly I think it would have to start with some transparency in the USA government but who really knows when or if that will happen? The Media over here is also a huge culprit. Depending on which news station you watch, you get one side or another, never anything ‘right or true’. Someone is always paying someone. I think our generation will have to step up to the plate and fix this heap of a mess we have here. Time to get to work!!!
14. If you guys could compose a song with any other bands/musicians, who would they be and what would the song consist of? What would you call it?
Camden: Oh man, well we would have to have a flock of guest vocalists right off the bat. Im sure that would include Hansi, Stu Block, Kai Hansen and Andy Deris, minimally. We would have a few guests guitar solos from Jani (ex- sonata arctica, I would FIND him and make him do it), Christian Muenzer (obscura), Michael Romeo and Paul Gilbert. I think we could tackle the other guitars, bass and drums ;) Of course this song would be the most power metal thing of all time! Imagine Avantasia Pt 1, but even more power metal!!!!!
15. Is there anything else that you think we should know about the band, or it's message?
Camden: not really lol! We are just a bunch of normal people trying to make our mark on the world doing something we love. I just thank everyone that has followed us in our journey so far and hope for their continued support! We are far from done ;)
Thanks for such a mind-blowing power/thrash disc. These ears really needed it. I wish you guys the best of luck, and hope that you'll continue to take the metal world by storm.
Camden: Hey, thanks man! We appreciate the time and hope everyone gets a chance to hear “The Fire Is Mine”!
The Fire Is Mine
SEVEN KINGDOMS are a wonderfully fantastic power/thrash band from Florida, much in the vein of legends like BLIND GUARDIAN. One would be perfectly sound in saying that these guys (and gal) sound just like BLIND GUARDIAN with a female vocalist, and however blasphemed you might feel by that statement; you only feel that way because you haven't heard this album yet. The disc thrashes with new classics like "After The Fall", "Flame Of Olympus", "The Fire Is Mine" and closer "The King In The North" and that's just for starters. The solos on this thing are just as immense as some of the solos I'd expect from BLIND GUARDIAN's early thrashers "Born In A Mourning Hall", "Somewhere Far Beyond" and "Traveller In Time" for example. The album even incorporates the background choirs in a couple of the tracks, which really add to the atmosphere that these guys were trying to achieve and successfully did. But not all of the songs are perfect, despite the dual guitar onslaught and thundering drum barrage, and there is an acoustic ballad here "Kardia" that follows the title track and kills the mood for me. I know there will be fans out there who will like this, but I personally would've rather had more thrash. Also, "Forever Brave" is a little weaker as well as the groovier "Symphony Of Stars" despite the fact that the track does showcase some good melodies. However, I know of people that will also eat this one up and the chorus does manage to capture Hansi's Kursch's vocal acrobatics, which I found intriguing. There's also a modern approach taken to "Fragile Minds Collapse" which might not appeal to fans of the classic style of power/thrash. I also might mention that while there are eleven tracks here, only nine of them are actual songs. Despite all of this, I still think that Seven Kingdoms and their amazing Siren on vocals Sabrina Valentine, have brought much to the world of power metal. But not only that, they've also helped to further bring down the barrier that metal is man's game, as she seems to be able to hold up just as well, if not better than any man I've heard in the genre of power/thrash. Her soaring vocals are more than enough to carry this album throughout all of the twists and turns that this band takes as they weave you through Greek Mythology, the worlds of George R.R. Martin and many other lands of mystical enchantment. An absolute must for the power metal fan.