DEATH SS – The Seventh Seal

DEATH SS - The Seventh Seal
  • 5/10
    DEATH SS - The Seventh Seal - 5/10


Regain Records
Release date: August 28, 2006

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

25 years, and still it is necessary to start a review of Italian’s oldest living Hard Rock band with the remark that the SS part in their name has nothing to do with a certain German Third Reich group. The singer calls himself Steve Sylvester, so the band called themselves In Death Of Steve Sylvester.

Still, those two letters have given them a hard time almost everywhere, except in their home country. So, they remained in the underground and released album after album. Since they found a new home now with Regain Records, it seems they started another assault on the international Metal world with their Horror Metal. Until now, mostly the only horror in all those masked horror and shock bands was the blatant lack of musical abilities, be it Gwar, Misfits, Slipknot, Green Jelly, even Lordi (regardless of how much success they now have) and how much fun everyone had when they flipped the Metal finger to the world at the Grand Prix de la Chanson. Most of the time, the creativity of those bands ended after they finished knitting their costumes.

Death SS look a lot like the above, so one may fear the worst, but fortunately Italians do it better. That does not mean that everything you find here turns out to be gold, there are quite a few unspectacular tracks on the album, but the mixture does the trick and somehow makes the whole very interesting, while each song for itself would probably not be something to write home about.

With the exception of the opening track, of course, which managed to convince the Italian Wrestling Foundation to make it their theme song. One can see that it probably works well when a hall full of beer-drinking, uh, masculine-smelling, sport intellectuals shout “Give ‘em Hell,” though on the album it is only interesting for a very short time because of the electronic beats and industrial influences.

But, fortunately after that, it gets much better. Already the next song, “Venus Gliph,” which is a Metal version of an 80s Electronic Pop song, manages to make brows rise. It is mellow, but somehow catches attention, although one cannot put the finger on the thing that makes the song interesting. That is true for a lot of songs. The Metal, Goth, Glam, Industrial, Hard Rock mixture simply works in a handful of songs, and the variety of the compositions is remarkable. There are only two constants in the style and sound of Death SS: The cheesy keyboards and Steve Sylveter’s voice, which fits for some of the songs like “Shock Treatment” or “Venus Gliph,” and fails miserably during others (“Psychosect” or “Another Life”). But, whenever one thinks he’s got them figured out, they just change direction and hit you from a new angle, like the melancholic violin intro for “Der Golem,” which is obviously inspired by the classic Paul Wegener movie, or a cool chorus, like the one in “Absinthe.”

Several times Alice Cooper influences are undeniable, but that would be a compliment for almost every band, even if they show rather obviously like in “Heck Of A Day.” In the second half of the album, the keyboards’ beeping sound begins to get on one’s nerves, even when the songs are good (“S.I.A.G.F.O.M,” “The Healer”). But, at the very end, The Seventh Seal impresses with the title track, which is the highlight of the album. Dramatic, catchy, and probably a great song live, this ends the album. Still to come is the Bonus Track, which is a cover version. Unfortunately, they try to redo a real classic: “The Four Horsemen,” originally done by Aphrodite’s Child on the famous 666 album, and Death SS must acknowledge defeat in the vocal section after 3.04 minutes – technically KO’ed by two old ladies from the Progressive past.

Overall, a two sided album, where half a dozen really cool tracks are on the have-side, while some strange sounds and some rather boring songs taint the overall impression. With 13 songs, one can take out a handful and still have a complete album. Not too bad, after all…


  • Frank Jaeger

    Frank was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Bavaria, Germany. He has worked in the games industry for more than 20 years, now on the manufacturing side, before on the publishing end. Before this, he edited and handled the layout for a city mag in northern Germany ... maybe that is why he love being part of anything published. Frank got hooked on Metal at the age of 14 when a friend introduced him to AC/DC. They were listening to The Beatles, Madness, and The Police, and he decided they should move on. Well, they did, Back in Black became Frank's first Metal album, and since Germany is reasonably close to England, they had some small New Waves Of British Heavy Metal washing up on their shores: Tygers Of Pan Tang, Samson, Gillan, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Sweet Savage, Diamond Head, etc. If he had to pick his favorite styles, Prog and Power Metal would be at the top of the list.

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