Review of Seven Planets New Release, Explorer (Small Stone, 2020)

Heavy groovists Seven Planets have a February release that will help you rise above the winter gloom: Explorer.

With roots in West Virginia, the band’s music is guitar-driven instrumental groove, loaded with boogie, blues, and funk, all wrapped up in a heavy desert vibe. The two guitarists, Leonard Hanks and Jim Way, are joined on the album by bassist Mike Williams and the steady and clever drumming of Ben Pitt. No vocals. With this music, you do not miss the physiological voice because the instruments do all the art, leaving no gaps. Even with the proliferation of instrumental bands in doom and heavy music in recent years, Seven Planets stands out with its spacey construction, its cohesiveness, and flavorful riffs that are all its own.

Following Flight of the Ostrich (2008) and their self-titled 2012 release, Explorer is the third full-length set from Seven Planets. The shorter songs pop, giving off a Bakerton Group glimmer – “206,” “Vanguard,” and “The Buzzard” especially. The longer pieces have more of a nebulous doom presence, in some ways ethereal, and reminiscent of the sound Seven Planets established in their earlier albums. The warbling “Seven Seas” is the perfect example of this second type, where a bed of solid floating groove carries you along while exploring guitar fingers spark and reach out into the unknown. In “Great Attractor,” the two guitars even go off and explore in different directions at the same time, bringing a broader environment of sound into a greater inclusive whole. The album closes with “The Buzzard,” a sharp, insisting punch wearing melodic robes. Taken together, it is like experiencing eight separate micro-doses that ebb and flow and blend into a gaining collective that outpaces the sum of its parts.

There are no tour dates listed on their socials, so keep an eye out for Seven Planets because you want to see them whenever you can. Christopher Berry is now playing bass after the departure of Mike Williams, and the transition has been seamless, by all accounts. The album Explorer will be released on February 7, 2020, and it is available for preorder now at Bandcamp (link below) in digital and many solid forms. After you preorder the new one and while you are waiting for it to drop, listen to the first two on Spotify or wherever you stream. It’ll put you in the mood and give you some idea of what is coming. The new album is in the same cosmos as the first two, but it is also an evolution. Recommended.

Band photo by Holly Pittman.


Review of Seven Planets New Release, Explorer (Small Stone, 2020)