In the dance/electronic genre, where music is often made and consumed independently of an album, a full-length LP isn’t a prerequisite for success. Of this, Seven Lions is well aware.
Over the past decade, the American DJ/producer born Jeff Montalvo has emerged as one of the most propulsive forces in the popularization and evolution of melodic dubstep and melodic bass. And with founding credits to one of the dance/electronic genre’s most rapidly aggrandizing labels (Ophelia Records) to his name, Seven Lions has attained a level of acclaim sought by many, yet achieved by few. He’s done it all without an album in his catalog, and that’s precisely why the release of his debut LP, Beyond The Veil, 10 years after his first EP (2012’s Polarize) has engaged dance/electronic audiences not only in the melodic dubstep and melodic bass spaces, but also beyond.
Beyond The Veil arrives at a point in Seven Lions’ career where he arguably has nothing to prove, but as the meticulousness of the LP evidences, that’s not the attitude with which the head of Dancing Astronaut‘s 2021 Album of the Year approached the endeavor. It’d be easy for Seven Lions to fashion an album that panders to the earlier, nostalgia-inducing sounds of melodic dubstep and melodic bass, and undoubtedly, such an approach would be celebrated by fans nonetheless. But Beyond The Veil—an LP ambiguous in title, yet clear in its effort to embody a more experimental, fluid, and mature offshoot of Seven Lions’ classic sound—deserves praise for taking the road less traveled. Across a dozen tracklistings, Beyond The Veil proves to be a sentient and cerebral body of work. “Call On Me” with Vancouver Sleep Clinic and “Between” with Eli Teplin, for instance, represent a different, more muted and introspective—but no less striking—sonic approach reflective of Seven Lions’ inventiveness.
Importantly, there’s a place for melodic grandeur on Beyond The Veil, too. The emotive, melodic builds and breakdowns signature to Seven Lions have inimitably tugged at listeners’ heart strings over the years, and this pull can be felt at several junctures on the album. In this way, Beyond The Veil toggles between the familiar and long-embraced and a less expected, more nascent style of Seven Lions’ sound.
“Tonally, this album shifted my sound a bit to a more organic sound, and one that is less reliant on synths,” Seven Lions attested in a press release announcing the album. “This album is the first and possibly last album for me. I had an amazing time writing it, and I feel like I got to tell a story that I normally can’t tell in just an EP or single. [It’s] definitely one for the long time fans. It’s something I’m incredibly proud of.”
A peek at Beyond The Veil‘s credits indicates that the album bears no collaborations outside of vocal features. Fellow producers GG Magree and Mija lend only their toplines to the LP, which lays claim to a diverse cast of vocalists, including Lights, Dia Frampton, JT Roach, So Below, Eli Teplin, and Vancouver Sleep Clinic. In sum, Beyond The Veil is an intimate, focused exposition of Seven Lions, a pure and unadulterated vision of the artistry into which he’s grown over the years. It’s worth noting that much of the album’s power derives not from Seven Lions’ need to release an album, but from his desire to do so, the vantage point from which the best, most authentic art is usually born. Stream Beyond The Veil below.
Featured image: Dawndra Budd
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