Winger – Seven (Album Review)

Winger are one of those bands from the late ‘80s that deserve more respect than they garner. Oddly associated with the goofy MTV series Beavis and Butt-Head in the early ‘90s because the geeky neighbor Stewart always wearing a Winger t-shirt, opposed Beavis and Butt-Head who wore AC/DC and Metallica shirts… it somehow implied that Winger was ‘not cool.’ Silly, yes, strangely impactful, also yes. Nonetheless, this little piece of Pop culture history keeps Winger within the minds of many, but do they realize how good the band is? Probably not, because Winger is a band that is highly talented, highly musical, and always writes some killer tunes. Yes, there was the more Pop driven “Seventeen,” but thereafter, you had soaring Rock anthems like “Headed for a Heartbreak” and “Miles Away.”  

Rolling with the punches, Winger’s first two albums – ‘88’s Winger and ‘90’s In the Heart of the Young – both deserve further listening decades later. Shifting their sound a bit through the years, there is no hiding that Winger is much more along the lines of Progressive Metal opposed to any Glam Metal labeling. In fact, this was clearly evident upon their full-time return to music in 2006 moving forward. Still going strong, after much anticipation, they returned in 2023 with their seventh studio album entitled, well, Seven.

Released on May 5th through Frontiers, there has been speculation in recent years as to if and when the album would finally be released. With material sprinklered here and there through the lost pandemic years, it surely struck up a lot of interest, but was it all worth the wait? Depending on who you ask, for those actually paying attention, yes, it absolutely was.

Their first studio album in nearly ten years, their last being 2014’s Better Days Comin’, Seven finds itself in a little bit of a darker headspace. Naturally, considering all the chaos we have experienced in recent years, Kip Winger (vocals, bass) along with longtime members Reb Beach (guitars), Rod Morgenstein (drums), Paul Taylor (keyboardist/guitarist), and John Roth (guitar), harness a ton of energy into one serious Metal record.

When we say serious, it means Seven is an album that is dark, melodic, poignant, and quite heavy. The riffs are razor sharp, the vocals of Kip are powerful, yet rugged, and the song structures are engaging. Really impressive from start to finish, highlights include the catchy “Proud Desperado,” outstandingly perfect, razor sharp “Tears of Blood,” plus “Heaven’s Falling” and “Stick the Knife in and Twist.” There are also the beautifully presented “Do or Die,” plus the enchanting closer “It All Comes Back Around.”

Clearly a product of carefully written and recording songs, Winger shows that they are still capable of creating some fantastic music. Also possessing some striking lyrics that reflect the uncertain times, this is one of the biggest surprises in the Hard Rock/ Metal world of 2023. That is why Cryptic Rock gives Seven 4 out of 5 stars. 

Winger – Seven / Frontiers (2023)

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