“Seven Seas” – Barock Project
9.1/10 | Progressive Rock

Album covers are important. They have to be eye grabbing, creative, thematically appropriate, and above all they have to look good. The resurgence of vinyl can be attributed to many different things, but for me it’s because it is the only media that captures the importance of the cover. There are many albums I love that I never would have listened to without their cover and even more that I never hear due to their poor first impression. Are there good albums with bad covers? Absolutely, look no further than Arena’s Double Vision last year. However, the best covers will make the album ten times better.

This is not a new concept for me and it won’t be the last time I return to it. I started tracking my favorite album covers of the year before I listed the best albums. The newest entry in both of these categories, though, is the new album from Barock Project, a progressive rock band out of Italy. A fan of their previous album, Detachment, I was blown away by lead single “I Call Your Name” and could not wait to hear Seven Seas.

Naturally, I missed the album when it came out. My primary listening platform is Spotify, on which the single version of title track was released at the same time as the album. This meant that I saw the new single, grew even more excited, and then went about my day. When I’m looking forward to a new album, I’ll usually listen to the lead single a lot but then only listen to the second single once. As a result, it took me two weeks to finally recognize and rectify my error. Never before have I wanted two weeks of my time back so badly, as I would have listened to this album over and over throughout it.

Seven Seas starts with the two lead singles, with the cinematic title track and the poppier sounds of “I Call Your Name” showing Barock Project’s ability to excel in a variety of sounds right out of the gate. Following these is the excellent “Ashes” which features a steady first half before delivering an intricate piano breakdown that transitions into some comparatively heavy elements. This falls back to the calming waters in its final minute as the guitar and piano interplay to create a shimmering atmosphere, enhanced further by strings and synths. This penchant for soundscape design is a hallmark of the album, with many different layers always present and perfectly matched to bring out the best of each.

Another album highlight is the lovely “Mirror Trick,” which is the shortest track on the album and comes between the two longest tracks. While the bordering tracks are both stellar, they benefit from the quick breath between. Scaling back on the grandiosity, “Mirror Trick” is driven by an acoustic guitar and melodious vocals. The accompanying instruments grow over the course of the song, from a lone piano to the full range, yet it never becomes overgrown. It then leads to a pleasant outro that sets the stage for the album’s centerpiece, “Hamburg.” Altogether, “Mirror Trick” is a wonderful song that manages to succeed both on its own and in making Seven Seas better as a whole.

This is one of those albums that are actually hard to pick highlights for, because of how interwoven they are. Though individually strong, these songs exist as part of a greater whole. As a result, they become even stronger when listened to in the context of the entirety of Seven Seas. In a sense, every single song is a highlight, and it is difficult not to sing the praises of each one. This is a work that deserves to be heard and appreciated for its musicianship and impressive technical design.

From the art to the music, Barock Project have delivered a gorgeous album that sets the bar even higher. Seven Seas is compelling, memorable, and may be the band’s finest work yet. I look forward to making up missed time with it.

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