Ars Nova is, and has been for almost 2 decades, Japan’s most bombastic prog rock outfit.
This band has been producing, quite often, deep dives into the most dynamic and powerful aesthetics of symphonic prog, and with Seventh Hell the band continues its tradition.
The music, as usual, is pretty much based
on the keyboard layers that normally (over)drive the bands sonic experiments. The
usage of vintage keyboards is one of this bands most recognizable attributes,
and therefore they keep on implementing complex structures in a savvy and most impeccable
way, providing those many times mentioned reminiscences to the works of
E.L.P and Trace.
Yet, the resulting sound, when combined
with hard edged guitars and heavy drumming, makes the band sound very modern
while respecting the classics.
The neo-classic approach is used with a
totally epic vibe and feel, therefore the complimentary use of the “bombastic”
word is a constant in the reviews to their music. This album does not escape
that epitome, and it even improves it in many ways, for this is their best
album to date, in my honest opinion.
The concept is also grand: musical
interpretations of great works of art, with each track dedicated to a well
known painting. The exception is the last track, which tribute a painter rather
than a painting. We know that the prog bands are always striving to find good
concepts for their albums…well, this one is absolutely well-thought and even
better put into practice.
Besides the mentioned E.L.P., I would also mention Dream Theater (for the heaviness and craft of some parts), Ayreon (for the epic feel), Little Tragedies (for the neo-classic approach) as some of the bands that share some particularities with this great Japanese band.
In sum, this is one of those albums that will wet symphonic prog lovers that like the most bombastic side of the genre. For those, this is Essential!