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Seventh Void - Heaven is GoneSeventh Void: Heaven is Gone
Big Vin Records

Type O Negative Members Embrace Heavier Roots on Debut Album

For years, Type O Negative has succeeded at genre-hopping on a whim, wavering back and forth between commercial accessibility and doom-laden denial of musical trends. Yet, there was always a nagging feeling that there was some unfulfilled energy within the ranks -- one that simply wanted the rock to outweigh the shock and the music to outlast the mood.

Enter Seventh Void.

The product of Type O Negative guitarist Kenny Hickey and drummer Johnny Kelly, Seventh Void's debut, Heaven is Gone, can best be described as containing the best of its daddy's most outright "rock" moments, but steering clear of the goth-by-numbers trappings that Type O Negative is known for. In other words, the meat and potatoes Black Sabbath sludge that metal fans crave.

From the moment the album starts, it's clear that there won't be any Beatles-influenced moments. This disc is all about filthy, 1970s-inspired Marshall stack rock, with just enough stoner/doom touches to keep skeptical fans at bay. But don't let the "1970s" tag dissuade you -- this is one seriously catchy, heavy album, written and produced in a way that will allow modern headbangers to lock into its grooves, while keeping the doors open for guys who live in their vans waiting for a Blue Cheer reunion.

Album opener "Closing In" sounds like Soundgarden before Chris Cornell abandoned his hard rock roots for pop drivel, utilizing a nasty groove riff that sets the tone for the rest of the album. Likewise, "Descent" and "The End of All Time" bring the classic Black Sabbath sound to the modern day better than Heaven and Hell ever could. Other than one or two experimental tracks (read: clunky, poorly-thought out misfires) the album maintains a consistent, enjoyable pace throughout.

Lyrically, however, Heaven is Gone is a disappointment. Despite the album's penchant for a more straight-ahead heavy rock vibe, the lyrics stay squarely within the Type O Negative mold of personal sadness, failure and general misery. The downtrodden lyrics don't exactly mesh well with the snaky grooves that lie beneath.

Despite the lyrics, what matters here is the music and Seventh Void brings the goods in spades. Neither a brutal metal album, nor a classic rock album, the band expertly bridges both audiences to create one of the most memorable releases of the year.

Through a tight set of catchy songs, with just enough experimentation to keep your interest, Heaven is Gone displays the work of two artists who seemed tired of the grandiose ideas that bloat most of Type O Negative's recent output. As a result, the album almost sounds cathartic, and its stripped-down, guitar-heavy hard rock sounds more exciting and emotional than a million washed out keyboards ever could.

It's probably not wise for Hickey or Kelly to quit their day jobs just yet, but Heaven is Gone sounds more vibrant and creative than Type O Negative has in years. Seventh Void fills an oft-ignored niche in today's modern music scene -- straight up heavy rock -- with an album that should be on your playlist regardless of whether you want your head to bob or bang.

-- Brad Bortone

Copyright 2009, Brian Heaton. All Rights Reserved.