Seven Spires – Live At Progpower USA XXI (English)

Let me say one thing up front: I am a fan of Seven Spires. I am a very big fan even! The term ‘mega’ might even apply. So, unless there are gross mistakes or blue notes on this first live album by this progressive dark metal (very dark but not black enough for black) quartet from the United States, expect nothing less than a jubilation from me! The objectivity for this review is bleeding and gagged somewhere in a corner.

I find it quite difficult to write this review. Whlie listening, I get completely sucked into the music, so much so that nothing gets on the metaphorical paper. When I turn off the music, I think of what I want to write down, but then I want to go listen again… In short, I can’t get much done like this…

New attempt:
For those who don’t know Seven Spires yet, a short introduction: the band members met each other during their studies at the famous Berklee College of Music in Boston (you know, with Dream Theater as the most famous alumni). The musical qualities of brilliant multi-vocalist and composer Adrienne Cowan, virtuoso guitarist (teacher and sound engineer) Jack Kosto, inimitable Peter ‘bet I can use every fret of every kind of bass in every half of a song’ de Reyna and drum beast (and multi-instrumentalist) Chris Dovas are more than fine. If I may elaborate on the latter for a moment: on every Seven Spires album he lays down a particularly solid and creative basis that the rest can indulge in, but on this live record you can really hear the enormous box of tricks he has at his disposal. That was also what impressed me very much when I finally got to see them live a few months ago when they visited Eindhoven in their European tour with Twilight Force. It was also great to experience, when I had the opportunity to shake hands with this man, that he is also just a very warm and friendly guy! The saying ‘never meet your heroes’ certainly does not apply here! So as far as I’m concerned, the four minutes of drum solo on this album is more than deserved! Really? Gonna have another listen just to be sure… 

Yup, still great! Okay, so that’s about the musicians. But what have these topnotch people served us up to now? That is a three conceptalbum story about (very succinctly) lost and found love, the oceans and gods. The last album Gods Of Debauchery was my album of the year 2021, one hour and seventeen minutes of listening pleasure! In 2019 my album of the year was Emerald Seas and if I had already known them in 2017, their debut Solveig would have been my album of that year. And now as the crowning glory of the story this live record. It should come as no surprise that most of the songs are from the latest studio album, but with Cabaret Of Dreams (the first song I heard from them and that instantly sold me), Succumb and Bury You, the other two are also represented. The last one is especially beautiful. Let’s listen one more time…

And another half hour further… Don’t worry, time well spent. Speaking of time, Live At Progpower USA XXI is exactly one hour and fifty-four seconds long. And this hour of playing time is so crammed full of music that the outro Through Lifetimes has to be turned away halfway through and that especially Adrienne’s comments between the songs are thrown out at record speed. But everything so that there is enough time left for the dessert at the end: the more than ten minutes long epic This God is Dead. And there is definitely a big icing on this cake! On the studio version, this is partly a beautiful duet with singer Roy Khan (Conception, ex-Kamelot). And let Conception have been on the line up of this festival! Fortunately, and despite the fact that it is a prog festival, here one and one is also two and this duet will also be performed live, recorded and therefore put on CD for the whole world to enjoy! Am I going to do that again…

Chris, how do you manage to mix and match four different blast beats in one song?! Unbelievable… Let’s go back one song. Dare To Live, one of my absolute favourites, both the studio version and live. Wonderful power metal atmosphere with great clean vocals, interspersed with brutal grunts and nasty screams. That so much, and so many different sounds can come from such a beautiful, small woman… 

Listened to the CD again until I came across Succumb again. There are some wonderful guitar solos in here, after all. They are wordless poems. Such a pity that Jack’s guitar was so far in the background in Eindhoven… a shame and a big middle finger for the sound engineer that evening. Now of course I also want to personally push Peter some feathers in the ‘behind’, but for which song… Because every bass line on every song is perfect. So what could be more perfect than perfect? I’m going to listen… Well, Ghost Of Yesterday might just stand out in that respect. Just double check… No, Oceans Of Time jumps even higher! Phew, I don’t know either. There is simply no such thing as more perfect than perfect. Finished. Point.

It’s that live albums are generally not allowed to count for albums of the year otherwise it would have been decided this year already, as far as I’m concerned. The only thing that could be better would be a new studio album from Seven Spires, but I can’t imagine there will be another one this year, with all the tours they’re doing this year (currently in North America with Eluveitie and Omnium Gatherum). Also, live albums usually don’t get a score rating. Not here at Zware Metalen either, otherwise this would have been my first review that would have received the full whack of points!

Yes Berry, we know now (I think you are thinking now): Live At Progpower USA XXI is awesome! But can’t you let go of the shackles trapping your objectivity and try to listen to it with a critical ear? Come on, I’m going to do another round… 

 Alas, it is no match for a critical ear. But what if I start measuring it against a legendary album? Live At Progpower USA XXI by Seven Spires vs. Live After Death by Iron Maiden? Do I dare? Because I’m also a big fan of Iron Maiden! And that for more than thirty-five years! As a boy of twelve I already jumped around my room, miming to this album of gods. There were even nearly men in white suits with teenager-sized butterfly nets, Valium and anti-rabies drugs involved. In a manner of speaking, of course. But I dare (to live), I’ll just do it! I hear two differences: on Live After Death I only hear legendary classics, while on Live At Progpower USA XXI I hear songs that have yet to become legendary classics. But that’s only a matter of time as far as I’m concerned, it’s not a question of quality. The other thing is that with Seven Spires I get the feeling of being on stage more and experiencing the show the way they do and with Iron Maiden you seem to be squeezed into the front of the stage. But that may of course have to do with the perceived sound of the audience and the difference between a hall of less than a thousand fans and a stadium of ten thousand screamers.

It’s about time to close this paean to Seven Spires in general and Live At Progpower USA XXI in particular. At least then I can listen quietly, undisturbed. Is there really no criticism at all? Really, really not at all? Oh well, come on, just one then: the album is way too short and should have been at least a double or triple album… 

Live in Eindhoven, with your crazyhappy writer (somewhat) in the middle of the picture.


Frontier Records, 2023


  1. Wanderer’s Prayer (intro)
  2. Gods Of Debauchery
  3. Ghost Of Yesterday
  4. Cabaret Of Dreams
  5. Succumb
  6. In Sickness, In Health
  7. Bury You
  8. Drumsolo
  9. Oceans Of Time
  10. Shadows On An Endless Sea
  11. Dare To Live
  12. This God Is Dead (met Roy Khan)
  13. Through Lifetimes (outtro)


  • Adrienne Cowan – Vocals
  • Jack Kosto – Guitar
  • Peter de Reyna – Bass and vocals
  • Chris Dovas – Drums