The band was originally called REVELATION and was formed in the fall of 1985 in Kristiansand, NORWAY. One listen and it’s apparent that the band was strongly influenced by such artists as Yngwie Malmsteen, MSG, TNT, and
modeled after classic twin guitar bands of the 70s and early 80s like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. After recording two demos between 1987 and 1988, the band was well received in their hometown of Kristiansand and the band did. Receiving local radio play in Oslo resulted in the band getting signed by the local office of the Dutch label CNR. The full length debut CD Messengers of Love was subsequently recorded in July/August of '88 at Loud Level Studios in Hamar, Norway, and due to a name conflict with another band on the label, the band changed its name to SEVENTH SEAL. However, when presented with the finished product, the label gave the band a cold shoulder and never released it. Trying to push on despite the let down by the label, the band stayed active on the live front until the summer of '89, and the studio eventually decided to release the album on its own label, Loud Level Records, but not until 1990 after the band had already disbanded. The record was never properly promoted, and only about 1000 copies were ever released.
Retroactive Records thrives on being able unearth some hidden treasures. Messengers of Love easily qualifies as a Norwegian metal masterpiece. Complete with twin guitar attack, Yngwie-styled guitar solos, and soaring vocals in the vein of Sacred Warrior and Geoff Tate of Queensryche, the remastered reissue of this ultra rare 1990 progressive metal release is sure to please metal fans across the globe.
KEY SELLING POINTS
**For fans of Sacred Warrior, Yngwie Malmsteen, MSG, TNT, Iron Maiden
**Fans of this genre are extremely loyal and dedicated to bands in the genre
**Features a track on the promotional compilation HEADBANGIN’ 101
**Full radio/advertising campaign
**Features track on the Heaven’s Metal Magazine subscribers compilation
**Original release has been out of print for 17 years.
**First time released in the USA
Messengers of Love (5:00), Fantasy (2:13), Revelation – God Has the Power (4:46), Your Love (6:00), Free (3:22), Sparkling Diamond (4:21), The Seventh Seal (1:28), Visions of Tomorrow (4:22), Born Again (4:40), Break Out (4:39), Eternal Love (3:58), The Calling (4:41)
Getting started in 1985 while initially under the name Revelation, Norway’s Seventh Seal was founded by the talented guitar team of Geir T. Ugland and Geir Knutson. After spending the next several years in rehearsal, the band recruited American born vocalist Mark Bjorvant in early 1987 prior to recording its first demo tape and making its debut live performance the summer of the same year. A second demo was put together in the spring of 1988 with the resulting airplay leading to a contract with the Dutch label CNR. However, when it was discovered another band on the label was also using the moniker Revelation a permanent name change was made to Seventh Seal. Seventh Seal proceeded to record its full length debut, Messengers Of Love, in July/August 1988 at Loud Level Studios in Hamar, Norway but CNR, for reasons unknown, refused to release it. Undaunted, Seventh Seal pressed on and continued to play live shows until the summer of 1989 when the studio decided to put out the album on its own label, Loud Level Records, a year later. By this time Seventh Seal had broken up, and the subsequent release of Messengers Of Love received little in the way of promotion with only 1000 copies being pressed. The good news to report, on the other hand, is that Messengers Of Love – an out of print and hard to find collectors item for years – was re-issued in mid-2007 by Retroactive Records.
Seventh Seal, as one would expect, reflects the musical trends of the decade it came out of, combining elements of melodic metal, melodic rock and neo-classical metal to create a sound certain to appeal to fans of other Northern European bands such as Leviticus, Motherlode, Emotion and TNT. Yngwie Malmsteen and MSG must be mentioned as well along with Stryper, Dokken, Siloam, Holy Soldier and Impellitteri. The influence of the previously mentioned acts can be found in up-tempo numbers such as the hook driven “Messengers Of Love”, the edgy “God Has The Power” and “Free” (a song that has Stryper written all over it) in addition to the neo-classical flavorings of “Visions Of Tomorrow” (a stunning piece), the catchy “Break Out” and album closer “The Calling”. Some of the finest moments to Messengers Of Love, nevertheless, take place on its ballads in that “Your Love”, “Sparkling Diamond” and “Eternal Love” all stand out with notable melodies.
The talent level of Seventh Seal is without question. Vocalist Mark Bjorvant, with his high end and classic tenor lead vocal style, is a near dead ringer for Sonny Larsson (Motherlode, XT). Other accurate comparisons might be Lee Guthrie (Siloam), Tony Harnell (TNT) or even Mikael Lagermo (Emotion). In the end, what we have is a guy with near unlimited range who cuts loose with more than his fair share of high pitched falsettos. And that is a very good thing. Guitarists Geir T. Ugland and Geir Knutson bring the same high level of ability. When listening to the dual lead work of the two on “Messengers Of Love”, “God Has The Power”, “Visions Of Tomorrow” and others I am reminded of Malmsteen, Chris Impellitteri, Rex Carroll (Whitecross) and Carl Johan Grimmark (Narnia). Yes, the quality is that high.
Production values are competent but would have improved with an element of big budget polish. No, nothing that will detract from your listening experience, but I cannot help but think things could have been beefed up in places (such as the albums low end). Obviously a low budget project, my overall feeling is that I am thankful to have the opportunity to hear this for the first time.
Messengers Of Love proves a very bold and upfront Christian effort with a lyrical direction capturing the spirit of the White Metal movement that got its start in the mid-eighties.
The albums title track opens to a brief hint of vocal harmonies before transitioning to the energetic guitar riff that holds sway over its verse portions in up-tempo fashion. Maintaining the vibrant momentum, “Messengers Of Love” moves on to a non-stop hook filled chorus that will pull you in and refuse to let go. A riveting dual lead guitar trade off brings out the best in a song that is aptly named:
We are messengers of love, that’s what we’re here for
And we hope to make you see what God’s about
‘Cause we’re His messengers of love, that’s what we live for
And there’s a battle for your mind
So never let go!
Don’t let go!
“Fantasy” is a short (2:13) instrumental shored up its distance by keyboards and slowly (but emotionally) played guitar.
The symphonic flavored introduction to “God Has The Power” gives way to a forward mix of rhythm guitar. Charging ahead with a deluge of resolve, the song culminates for a euphonic chorus talking about opening your heart to God’s love:
God has the power
To fill your heart with joy
Receive his love and you will never die
God has the power
To give you all you need
Just open up your heart
A sweeping instrumental section highlights more flashily played lead work.
“Your Love”, the first of the albums three ballads, begins to a blend of acoustic guitar and guitar feedback. Advancing through its verse portions acoustically, impetus is gained as the song breaks out for a poignantly delivered chorus backed by just the right amount of ardent rhythm guitar. All in all, the emotion and power of “Your Love” brings to mind Holy Soldier’s “The Pain Inside Of Me” (off the bands self-titled debut).
Initiated by vocal harmonies, “Free” takes off at an upbeat tempo only to taper off as a muscular rhythm guitar fortifies its first verse hard and heavy. The compelling chorus that ensues is accentuated by an even trace of keyboards. This one proves uncannily similar to Stryper’s “Free” (from To Hell With The Devil) in terms of not only the music but lyrics as well:
‘Cause you’re free
Free to make your choices
You are free to take a stand
Free to single out the voices
Your are free to take a stand
The ballad “Sparkling Diamond” commences to a short stretch of rhythm guitar only to settle down to a quietly played guitar line upon reaching its first verse. The rhythm guitar returns in time, however, to drive a stylish chorus in which Bjorvand showcases the abundant range to his voice. “Sparkling Diamond’ represents a synonym for God:
Can’t you see the sparkling diamond?
Just waiting to be touched
It will forever shine
And purify your soul
Can’t you see the sparkling diamond?
“The Seventh Seal”, coming in at just a minute and a half, features narration from the book of Revelation carried over keyboards.
The drum solo at the start of “Visions Of Tomorrow” is soon replaced by a symphonic based riff. Moving through its first verse with the rhythm guitar maintaining a forward place in the mix, the song makes an even transition to a chorus in which a majestic environment is put into place. Another lengthy stretch of neo-classical influenced lead guitar helps make this one of the albums better tracks. “Visions Of Tomorrow” maintains the apocalyptic themes started with “The Seventh Seal”:
And in the last days it shall come to pass
That the Kingdom of God rules the earth
And they shall beat their swords into plowshares
Take head and behold! These are visions of tomorrow
The days when the Lord puts an end to all the sorrow
All has been foretold by God’s prophets for tomorrow
When Jesus will be King for a thousand years
“Born Again” jumps out of the gate in quickly moving fashion, sustaining the stalwart initiative during its verse portions prior to obtaining a vibrant chorus dealing with the salvation experience:
Born again, we’re meant to be born again
As children of God to belong to His family
Born again, we’re meant to be born again
In bodies of spirit we’ll be…
A run of blazing dual lead work sustains another extensive instrumental section.
“Break Out” starts to a hard hitting guitar riff prior to picking up in pace and proceeding through its verse portions at the more determined tempo. Briefly pausing, the song smoothly makes its way to a brief but catchy chorus with a hook of the abundant variety. I enjoy how “Break Out” tapers off during its instrumental section to a joining of pounding drums and guitar feedback (similar to Rage Of Angels' “Are You Ready For Thunder?”). Several relevant questions are asked here:
Runnin’ with the night
Why don’t you see the light?
Runnin’ with the night
When will you start to fight?
“Eternal Love” brings the same high quality as the albums other ballads, “Your Love” and “Sparkling Diamond”. An emotional atmosphere is put into place the duration of the song as a melodic based chorus (bolstered by a crisp rhythm guitar) is combined with a very moving vocal performance from Bjorvant. “Eternal Love” talks about the search for exactly that:
You search for something real
Something you can feel
Something that will still your souls desire
And set your heart on fire
In front of God’s face, awaits a resting place
Take your chance tonight, and you won’t lose your fight
“The Calling” gets underway to a drum solo before launching into a driving guitar riff, a superfluity of energy generated as the way is paved for an extended chorus standing out as a result of its palatial feel. Ugland and Knutsen put on a virtual clinic with another display of their trademark radiant lead guitar work. A strong ending to a very fine album.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Messengers Of Love” (5:00), “Fantasy” (2:13), “God Has The Power” (4:46), “Your Love” (6:00), “Free” (3:22), “Sparkling Diamond” (4:21), “The Seventh Seal” (1:28), “Visions Of Tomorrow” (4:22), “Born Again” (4:40), “Break Out” (4:39), “Eternal Love” (3:58), “The Calling” (4:41)
Mark Bjorvant – Lead Vocals
Geir T. Ugland – Guitars & Bass
Geir Knutson – Guitars & Bass
Trygve Hansen – Drums
Sjur Lundstein - Keyboards