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Ars Nova (JAP)

Symphonic Prog

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Ars Nova (JAP) Seventh Hell album cover
3.47 | 35 ratings | 4 reviews | 31% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2009

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Seventh Hell (11:39)
2. La Venus Endormie (5:43)
3. Cazadora de Astos (8:04)
4. Voice of Wind (4:16)
5. Salvador Syndrome (17:11)


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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Keiko Kumagai / keyboards
- Satoshi Handa / guitars, vocals
- Shinko Panky Shibata / bass
- Hazime / drum

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ARS NOVA (JAP) Seventh Hell ratings distribution

(35 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(31%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

ARS NOVA (JAP) Seventh Hell reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Errors and Omissions Team
5 stars "Seventh Hell" sounds like perfect example of hell to me. I forgot which style this is, but I suspect symphonic. And indeed, what else could it be. She sings in Japan language, so I don't understand, but I don't mind, because at least is pleasant language to hear, nothing strong, hard. And except first unpleasant seconds, I'm satisfied as much as possible. Because this track has a gift to enhance your imagination, if you already have it working. Just thinking about images connected with these sounds (Futurama's hell? something my own?). When it's symphonic, or supposed to be, I expect, well, symphony. Beautiful and complex melody, better if structured quite difficult, synth or real synths, singing not so important. From what I could saw, Japan Bands have a lot of synth prog bands. In this track, there are two parts. One is ascending part, where music is in fast pace and trying to reach the top of the mountain, then second parts, when it jump from the edge and enjoys free fall. What about similar fall to depths of hell ? 7:22-8:30 is long example of second one. It contains beautiful and absolutely incredible blend of transitions from guitar solo to synth one (so masterskilledly edited that you will not see any bump) and then to both.

Keiko Kumagai is probably this gorgeous girl on cover. She's so pretty and not at all Japanese looking here + when you consider her keyboard skills, her giving a lot of band's ideas and this erotic style her own (Android Domina, various photos), you can't help but think that's a quite weird combination. Not bad, just strange. Babel Tower on her head, bird eating a man from Bosch's famous painting (one of two I have in my room, second one is Eden by him too, so every time I see something from it, connection between this artwork and this where I see it is stronger.

5(-) stars for almost masterpiece. Well, sad truth is that there are few worse parts which does not fit me aat all in overall composition. But as depiction of Hell (don't forget about it) it's flawless.

EDIT: + 1/2 stars, because of solid state of this record, which provides original element enough (through wild ideas) to be considered as master-class.

Review by Epignosis
2 stars This is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder progressive rock. It is ultimately technical skill without direction. Any given piece will change styles multiple times, all while retaining a frenzied pace and weirdness almost without exception. Despite their unquestionable talent, it's almost impossible for me to enjoy this, no matter how hard I've tried. Fans of Koenjihyakkei may find quite a bit to love here, however.

"Seventh Hell" After a maddening introduction, something akin to progressive metal ensues. The track is riddled with chugging guitar and powerful synthesizer leads. Jam packed with notes from almost every instrument, the arrangement is all over the place- frantic, chaotic, exasperating, and exhausting. Midway through, the piece completely stops, and something very different but no less sporadic takes over.

"La Venus Endormie" After the mind-boggling instrumental frenzy that came before, it's nice to have a more peaceful track, this one featuring vocals, coming from a female who can occasionally be shrill. The peace doesn't last- the band jumps back into full force progressive metal with several seemingly random sections patched in. The organ solo is the king here, though.

"Cazadora de Astos" Various synthetic instruments lead the charge on this brighter piece. Almost predictably, it becomes a migraine-inducing barrage of sounds.

"Voice of Wind" Following a bizarre opening, the band plows through a heavy guitar and bass segment, which is punctuated by irritating vocal stabs.

"Salvador Syndrome" The opening is really reminiscent of Gentle Giant. As expected, the music that follows is explosive, screaming, and unrelenting. Something I almost never care for is present here throughout- in lieu of transitions, there are several places where the music stops and then starts up again. With the weird, Japanese operatic vocal, however, my desire would be that the stops would come more often. Even the lead guitar is irritating in its screeching. The bass guitar solo is really cool, though. After yet another non-transition, there's a queer section of accordion, operatic vocals, and otherwise cabaret music. Sorry everyone, but this is worse than channel surfing on a drunken evening and trying to make a coherent story of everything on the screen...not that I've ever tried that sort of thing.

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Seventh Hell is the latest release from Japanese band Ars Nova, not to be mistaken for the Italian band of the same name. It's an album of highly proficient high tech symphonic prog. The music centres around the talented Keiko Kumagai's grandiose and powerful keyboard work. Guitarist Satoshi Handa comes from the Steve Vai school of playing, again a highly proficient player who can shred with the best of them but injects the occasional acoustic moment for colour. The rhythm section of drummer Hazime and bassist Shinko Panky Shibata lay a solid foundation but are able to follow the twists and turns of the complex musical structures with ease.

Ars Nova's brand of symphonic prog in the main is very bombastic, often veering into metal territory, constantly shifting with some inventive chord structures on the five compositions. It's mainly instrumental with only the occasional vocal or spoken voices to break the musical onslaught. However I could quite happily live without the Japanese operatics that appear on closing track Salvador Syndrome.

I found myself quite enjoying Seventh Hell, particularly the opening title track which captures them at their best but the music generally comes across as a little clinical and soulless. The constantly changing nature of the compositions whilst being technically impressive does sometimes frustrate a little as an enjoyable section appears and is gone, never to heard again. This in turn leaves them fairly unmemorable, even after half a dozen plays.

Whilst I doubt I'd want the entire Ars Nova back catalogue in my collection, Seventh Hell is an album I'll enjoy coming back to from time to time when I'm in the mood. Worth checking out if you like your prog on the in your face bombastic side.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
3 stars Bombastic, heavy, chaotic, loud! Seventh hell indeed! I was drawn to this japanese outfit when I read some reviews here on PA, since I had never heard of them before. It was said they were a kind of ELP copycat but if they ever did that I don´t know. What I can say is nowadays their music resembles anything BUT ELP. Liking it or not, they have their own sound that is a mix of speed of light type of guitars, shifting rhythm patterns and very complicated musical structures. Most keyboards parts are really interesting and creative, but the overall music is just too shapeless and too changeable for me to enjoy it more fully. It sounds mostly like an exercise of virtuosity than really music for the ears or soul.

Don´t get me wrong. It is just my personal taste.Besides, there are some very nice and genuine unique sounds that could be a fine material for great songs if they were interested in writing ´straight´ songs, but it does not seem to be the case here. Their musical hability is beyond question, the musicians are all very skillful and the arrangements are quite demanding. So much I´ll have to hear at least some other of their works to give them a fair judgement. For now I can only recommend this album to the ones who love to hear an explicit display of great musical technique without much care for song structure or feeling. If you´re into that, jump right in!

Rating: 2,5 stars, that I´ll round up to 3, because of the terrific musicanship and some very good ideas.

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