While surfing through videos, I stumbled across the band Seven Kingdoms and was completely blown away by the vocals of Sabrina Valentine. She’s blessed with powerful pipes and I instantly knew that I needed to interview this band. The video for “After The Fall” was the first song that I experienced so I reached out to see if there was something new from them. I was fortunate that I was able to speak with the guitarist and founding member Camden Cruz via the phone.
Please enjoy some excerpts from our recent interview conducted on October 7th 2018.
Anita: Hi, it’s Anita from The Metal Channel! How’s it going?
Camden: Doing great, you?
Anita: Doing awesome! Are you the bassist, drummer, or guitarist for Seven Kingdoms?
Camden: I’m the guitarist.
Anita: Sweet deal, I was seriously impressed with the awesome riffs and rhythms of your material.
Camden: Thank you.
Anita: Your welcome. Who are the current members of the band?
Camden: Sabrina, my wife, is the vocalist. Brothers Keith and Kevin Byrd handle the drums and the second guitarist positions respectively. We also have a new bass player, Tyler McDaniel.
Anita : How many albums has the band released starting with the most current? I was recently surfing videos and stumbled across the Seven Kingdoms video for “After The Fall” from 2012. I was blown away and I was thinking, “Who is this band and why haven’t we interviewed them yet?”
Camden: Our latest effort is titled Decennium which we released back in 2017 via Napalm Records. Before that we released Fire Is Mine back in 2012. I believe that we released the self-titled album back in 2009. Our first album Brothers of the Night debuted in 2007.
Anita: So “After The Fall” was on the 2012 album and the most current song from the latest album that you’re promoting is “In The Walls”. There’s one part of that song where the rats are in the walls being bastards and they won’t let anyone sleep. What is that song about?
Camden: Our second guitarist Kevin Byrd wrote that because he was inspired by the short story from H.P. Lovecraft, “The Rats in the Walls”. It was kind of like a short horror story that we made a song about.
Anita: That’s a great song. I thought, “Wow, those rats won’t let anyone sleep, they’re bastards!”
Anita: What’s Sabrina’s vocalist background? She sounds like she was operatically trained.
Camden: She has a pretty hardcore country and bluegrass background actually, so she doesn’t do a lot of the opera stuff. She just did country stuff and didn’t know about metal until we started dating . Then she started singing so she had her crash course with metal stuff when she met me.
Anita: Wow, she’s got some pipes! Where is the band from?
Camden: We’re from all over Florida, central Florida in the Deland area.
Anita: I have Steve from The Metal Channel with me also. Is it cool if he asks you a few questions?
Camden: Sure, fire away!
Steve: Cool, how’s it going Camden?
Camden: Hey, how are you?
Steve: Not too bad, fellow guitarist here! Anita asked for some power metal references since I’m kind of a power metal and thrash guy. I was wondering if your into some of the deeper European stuff like Sonata Arctica?
Camden: Oh yeah, for sure! Our first major tour was with Blind Guardian over here in the United States. We did that one in 2010 and then in 2013 we went over to Europe with Stratovarius and Amaranthe. In May of 2017 we went on tour with Evergreen.
Steve: I noticed that the band has a very distinct symphonic sound. In my opinion with American metal, that’s something that’s really been lacking. It’s as if the torch wasn’t passed and when I experienced Seven Kingdoms it seemed to me like that’s kind of the direction it went.
Camden: Yeah, we obviously still try with the music to have that classic hard metal sound. We try not to do too much slower stuff and it’s a lot more melodic, shredding guitar riff driven kind of music. We don’t utilize a keyboardist. We try not to go too hard into the operatic side of it because a lot of people will see a female vocalist with a keyboard player and then it becomes centered around that. We want to bring that classic Stratovarius feel, the heavier side of power metal. With Sabrina singing there’s not a lot of US-based bands that are doing that right now. Helion Prime is probably one of the few up and coming power metal bands. I like it because it makes us more unique and we always joke about the day that Blind Guardian gets too old and retires, we’ll be taking their place at the top.
Steve: I’m very impressed by that, touring with Blind Guardian. Other than some prehistoric power metal bands from my childhood, Blind Guardian was a band that really got me into the genre. Blind Guardian and Sonata Arctica.
Camden: Yeah for sure, Blind Guardian was a big deal for us. That’s obviously one of our favorite bands collectively and just being able to do that as our first major tour was one of the best we’ve done to date.
Steve: No doubt. You mentioned that you’re wanting to go for a heavier sound with less emphasis on keyboards. Trying to avoid that direction and sticking more to really fast melodic power metal. I noticed that ties in with very early Blind Guardian, like “Battalion of Fear” era, it seems that you have some thrash influences as well.
Camden: You’re right, actually we labeled ourselves on the first record as power thrash but we definitely listen to our fair share of thrash. We kind of power-metalize the thrash.
Steve: How’s the metal scene right now in Florida? It’s always been good for extreme metal. Is it the same way for the power metal genre as well?
Camden: Yeah, I promote shows so we book 50 to 60 shows a year here in Orlando. If the bands are good, people want to see them. I tell kids all the time, even the local bands , if people aren’t at your shows it’s your fault. It’s not the scenes fault because we’ve had plenty of great shows. The fans are plentiful and the scene is good for those who have the product
that people want to hear. If your not getting results the question you need to ask is, “What’s wrong with the product?” We had HammerFall sell out with both power and death metal fans coming together at the last two shows here in Florida.
Steve: That’s amazing! The last question that I have for you: (This is just obligitory as a guitarist.) I’m curious as to what your rig is like?
Camden: Kevin and I kick ass together and we kind of flip our gear. Both of us still have endorsements with Comparison Guitar’s. It’s a Japanese and British company. Micheal Romeo from Symphony X plays the same guitars. We also have endorsements with Bareknuckle Pickups. They have really great passive strong types of pick up. Like an emg without having to put batteries in them and they work better too. Both Kevin and I are die hard EVH guys so we have those EVH 5150’s and a few peddles here and there.
With a tour coming up, Seven Kingdoms is performing at the Riot Room in Kansas City on November 15th 2018 in my neck of the woods. Check their page for a city closest to you and keep on headbanging! \m/
Seven Kingdoms are:
Sabrina Valentine – Vocals
Camden Cruz – Guitar
Kevin Byrd – Guitar
Keith Byrd – Drums
Tyler McDaniel – Bass