The Cauldron and the Cross – the second album from UK heavy metallers Seven Sisters – is definitely one of the more notable traditional metal releases that has seen the light of day this year. Good sound, good songs, good singer, good attitude; The Cauldron and the Cross ticks a lot of the right boxes.
The band’s guitarist – Graeme Farmer – answered some of my questions, so take the time to get to know this band a bit better…
For those who are unfamiliar with your band – introduce yourself!
We’re a Heavy Metal band from West London. I’d say we play traditional Heavy Metal in the British tradition. It’s very melodic, and there are increasingly more progressive elements creeping into our sound, but I’d still say we have more in common with bands from the NWOBHM movement than anything else.
Give us a bit of background to Seven Sisters
We formed towards the end of 2013, and released a four track demo tape called The Warden the following summer. We then put together a proper line-up to star playing shows, and released a 7” single called Lost in Time in 2015. Our self-titled debut album was released by High Roller Records in 2016, and we then signed to Dissonance Productions and released our newest album The Cauldron and the Cross earlier this year.
What are your influences?
There’s too many to list, but I guess the main ones would be NWOBHM, as well as select 80s metal bands from Europe. We also listen to a lot of power metal, speed metal, progressive rock and AOR. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, in summary.
What are you listening to at the moment that you would like to recommend?
In terms of Heavy Metal, at the minute I’m really enjoying the current albums from Gatekeeper and Sanhedrin. They’re two of the more interesting bands for me at the minute. As always, I’m still spinning a lot of Dokken, Europe and Yngwie Malmsteen. Some things never go out of style!
How do you feel that you fit into the wider UK metal scene?
I suppose what we do is still relatively underground at the minute, but there’s enough bands playing a similar style that we’re never short of gig offers. I think we’re pretty fortunate in that our sound fits with old school metal bands as well as more modern power metal bands, and even some speed/thrash bands to an extent, so we have a pretty large demographic of potential fans. We play a lot of shows with NWOBHM bands, and the mums and dads all seem to love us which is pretty cool.
Give us a bit of background to The Cauldron and the Cross – I believe it’s a concept album?
It is indeed. It basically chronicles the rise and fall of the kingdom of King Arthur, and was initially inspired by a novel called The Mists of Avalon (although plenty of other background reading went into it and provided further ideas and inspiration). It’s all pretty nerdy I suppose, but we really enjoy trying to tell a story with our records rather than just releasing a collection of un-related songs, and Arthurian mythology is something that I’ve always been really interested in. I lent the aforementioned novel to Kyle and he really enjoyed it too, so we thought it’d be a cool topic for a concept album.
Tell us about the album artwork and how it relates to the concept
The artwork is basically a reflection of the album title. The cross is obviously the symbol of Christianity, and the cauldron represents the traditional Pagan beliefs that existed in Britain at the time. In the story, Arthur gets caught between these two ways of life, and by trying to appease everybody at the same time he inadvertently brings about the downfall of his kingdom. The cover was designed by a very talented chap called Simon Parr, and we couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. It suits the album perfectly.
How do you go about writing your songs?
Most of the music starts with Kyle, but I’ll chip in with riffs here and there. The lyrics are more of a collaborative effort. Steve and Javi them add their drum and bass parts which really take the arrangements to the next level. For this album we wrote all of the music first and then did all the lyrics in one hit, but that isn’t a steadfast rule, just the way it happened to go this time.
How did the recording process go?
It was incredibly hard work, but it was worth it as the results speak for themselves. This was actually our first time recording in a proper studio, as all our previous releases had been self-recorded. We recorded at Knight Time Studios in Ealing with producer extraordinaire Jim Knight. He was an absolute pleasure to work with, and we’ll definitely be going back to him in future.
What’s your favourite song on the album and why?
Probably the title track, as it’s the most epic and ambitious thing we’ve ever done. It’s really progressive, but still manages to be catchy and anthemic, which can be quite a challenge to pull off. I’m really proud of that one. I also really like Oathbreaker, just because I’ve always wanted to do a ballad and I was finally able to persuade the guys to try one on this record!
How would you compare The Cauldron and the Cross to your previous work?
I think it’s easily our best release to date. The song writing and the individual performances have all improved, and the production is a million times better than anything we’ve done before, which I think really makes it stand out. I really don’t think this record could have come out any better than it did, so it’s going to be a real challenge trying to top it with the third album!
What does the future hold for Seven Sisters?
Just more touring to promote the new album really. We’ve got some shows in Europe and Ireland this autumn, and we’re hoping to do as many summer festivals as possible next year. After that, I guess we’ll sit down and look at writing some new songs!
Any final words?
Nothing in particular, just thanks for taking the time to talk to us, and cheers to anyone reading this!