Seven Kingdoms
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Seven Kingdoms

DeLand, FL | Established. Jan 01, 2007 | MAJOR

DeLand, FL | MAJOR
Established on Jan, 2007
Band Metal Hard Rock


This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Seven Kingdoms @ O'Malley's Sports Bar

Margate, FL

Margate, FL

Seven Kingdoms @ Rok Bar

Daytona Beach, FL

Daytona Beach, FL

Seven Kingdoms @ The Haven

Winter Park, FL

Winter Park, FL

Seven Kingdoms @ Crowbar

Tampa, FL

Tampa, FL

Seven Kingdoms @ Jewel Nightclub

Manchester, NH

Manchester, NH

Seven Kingdoms @ Webster Hall Marlin Room

New York, NY

New York, NY

Seven Kingdoms @ Foufounes Électriques

Montréal, Quebec, Canada

Montréal, Quebec, Canada

Seven Kingdoms @ L'ANTI Bar & Spectacles

Ville de Québec, Quebec, Canada

Ville de Québec, Quebec, Canada

Seven Kingdoms @ Mod Club Theatre

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Seven Kingdoms @ Token Lounge

Westland, MI

Westland, MI

Seven Kingdoms @ Reggies Chicago

Chicago, IL

Chicago, IL

Seven Kingdoms @ Cabooze

Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis, MN

Seven Kingdoms @ Pyramid Cabaret

Manitoba, Canada

Manitoba, Canada

Seven Kingdoms @ The Exchange

Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

Seven Kingdoms @ Dickens Pub

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Seven Kingdoms @ Rickshaw Theatre

Vancouver BC, British Columbia, Canada

Vancouver BC, British Columbia, Canada

Seven Kingdoms @ Studio Seven

Seattle, WA

Seattle, WA

Seven Kingdoms @ The Bossanova Ballroom

Portland, OR

Portland, OR

Seven Kingdoms @ The Viper Room

West Hollywood, CA

West Hollywood, CA

Seven Kingdoms @ Adrenaline Sports Bar & Grill

Las Vegas, CA

Las Vegas, CA

Seven Kingdoms @ Brick By Brick

San Diego, CA

San Diego, CA

Seven Kingdoms @ Joe's Grotto

Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix, AZ

Seven Kingdoms @ The Rock Box

San Antonio, TX

San Antonio, TX

Seven Kingdoms @ Gas Monkey Bar N Grill

Dallas, TX

Dallas, TX

Seven Kingdoms @ Scout Bar

Houston, TX

Houston, TX



It’s been a pleasure to watch Seven Kingdoms develop as a band over the last nine years. In the early days, they were basically just a bunch of green kids from central Florida who worshipped Iced Earth, Blind Guardian and George R.R. Martin. No doubt, their hearts were in the right place; however, their enthusiasm and their ambition outstripped their abilities back then. But then something interesting happened. With each successive album, Seven Kingdoms took not just a step, but a substantial leap, forward. In terms of songwriting, performances, production, arrangements, artwork, and really everything, the band displayed marked improvement from one record to the next. The result was a steep upward trajectory spanning their first three albums. By the time 2012’s ‘The Fire is Mine’ came out, Seven Kingdoms had metamorphosed into a genuine force to be reckoned with, a top-shelf European-styled power metal band with killer songs, ripping guitars, speedy tempos, and outstanding female lead vocals.

The obvious question is what happens next. In honor of Seven Kingdoms’ tenth anniversary, they will be releasing their fourth full-length album, the appropriately titled ‘Decennium,’ early in 2017. Rather than aligning their fortunes with a traditional record label, the band have elected to go the Kickstarter route this time. Their funding/preorder campaign officially launches on Friday, December 9, 2016, with perks set for delivery in late January or February 2017. Unlike some bands who use crowdfunding to cover costs for as-yet unrecorded albums (with ensuing interminable lags from funding to reward fulfillment), ‘Decennium’ is already in the can. It’s completely finished. Your humble scribe was given advance access to the album tracks a couple of days ago for the purpose of contributing a review to coincide with the Kickstarter launch. Although I was happy to oblige, the compressed timeframe necessarily means that this review should be classified more in the vein of “initial impressions” than a carved-in-stone final say on the matter, simply because there really has not been enough time to live with the tracks, to let them seep under my skin and into my subconscious. That said, I have given ‘Decennium’ enough spins to generate confidence in the impressions described below. So, armed with that mild caveat, here we go …

As many readers undoubtedly know, Seven Kingdoms actually commenced the ‘Decennium’ cycle in September/October 2016 with the release of a four-track teaser EP entitled ‘In the Walls.’ In addition to a pair of exclusive non-album tracks (fine remakes of standout songs from their 2007 ‘Brothers of the Night’ debut), the EP previewed two tunes from ‘Decennium,’ namely “Undying” and “In the Walls.” Both newbies are scorching, high-velocity hammers of the highest order, particularly “In the Walls,” which immediately vaulted to one of my favorite Seven Kingdoms tracks of all time. While the EP had its desired effect of whetting my appetite for ‘Decennium,’ it also made me worry just a bit. What if the rest of the record couldn’t live up to the sheer awesome power of these two EP songs? Worse yet, what if “Undying” and “In the Walls” weren’t representative of ‘Decennium’ and the rest of the disc was bogged down in soggy ballads and midpaced snoozers? When I saw Seven Kingdoms play the Pathfinder Empire Metal Showcase in Atlanta last month, guitarist Camden Cruz reassured me that the band had stuck to their guns and that the album was filled with fast power metal.

Camden was right. Upon becoming acquainted with ‘Decennium’ this week, I can emphatically vouch for the stylistic purity and integrity of Seven Kingdoms. They haven’t watered things down. They haven’t tried to latch onto any trends or write radio-friendly songs. They haven’t slowed down or compromised their artistic vision in any way. ‘Decennium’ is the work of a band that not only embrace what they are, but have doubled down on it with single-minded focus and clarity of purpose. I guess what I’m trying to say is this: ‘Decennium’ is fast. Really fast. It’s got to be the fastest Seven Kingdoms album ever. There are no ballads, and really only two songs (“Castles in the Snow” and lead video track “Neverending”) that I would classify as predominantly midtempo, although even those have flecks of speed interwoven in their fabric. Now, don’t get the wrong idea: All of the songs have dynamics and different parts with shifting tempos inside each of them, so ‘Decennium’ isn’t a nonstop blur of fatiguing, mind-numbing speed. Seven Kingdoms are adept at ratcheting the tempos and mood up and down in the context of any given song as needed. But if you love Seven Kingdoms’ faster moments like “After the Fall” or “Flame of Olympus,” you will find yourself right at home on ‘Decennium.’

To get the objective description out of the way, ‘Decennium’ weighs in at 10 songs and approximately 52 minutes. There are no intro tracks, no instrumentals, no spoken-word narratives (a la “A Debt Paid in Steel” from the last album), just pure undiluted energy from start to finish. Interestingly, the band did not pen a lengthy epic this time (in the vein of “Seven Kingdoms” from the self-titled album or “The King in the North” from ‘The Fire is Mine’). Nearly every song clocks in at between five and six minutes, with none being longer and two being a little shorter. While I’ve enjoyed Seven Kingdoms’ more expansive songs, ‘Decennium’ feels complete without the traditional closing epic. The band once again worked with Jim Morris and Morrisound in the recording process (along with Phil Pluskota and North Avenue Studios), with mastering by Jacob Hansen, so listeners should expect a powerful, top-notch sound conveying both majesty and grandeur. I can’t tell for sure from these mp3s, but damn, ‘Decennium’ sounds huge. Every instrument is clearly audible in the mix (there a few spots where even Aaron Sluss’s monster bass lines reach out and smack the listener in the head), the guitars slice and dice with razor-sharp alacrity, and there’s plenty of ear candy for the discerning listener. Hell, I could spend a paragraph gushing about the choirs alone. They are simply masterful in execution, but that’s long been a Jim Morris hallmark and a strong suit of Seven Kingdoms. They may have outdone themselves in the choir department this time. Overall, the production on ‘Decennium’ is high-caliber, clean, and polished, just as one would expect. It complements Seven Kingdoms’ music perfectly.

There is nothing on ‘Decennium’ that I would term a “curveball” or a big musical experiment. At this point, Seven Kingdoms have settled on their sound and they’re sticking to it. They’re doing what they’ve always done, only better. So rather than overhauling their style, Seven Kingdoms have simply tinkered with it around the margins, honing the final product to a gleaming sharp edge. For example, the twin-guitar melody to “Stargazer” sounds a bit like classic Kai Hansen or Piet Sielck, which is a bit different for Seven Kingdoms. Likewise, the arrangement in a couple of verses of that same song where the guitars drop out and Sabrina Cruz sings over pounding drums and a shimmery guitar effect is not something they’ve tried before. So it is certainly true that Seven Kingdoms have incorporated a few new elements and tried some things to freshen up the melodies and arrangements, but there’s nothing drastic. Also, in the past, the band have been subject to the not-unfair criticism that some parts blatantly “borrow” from the likes of Blind Guardian, Iced Earth or Dragonforce. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. My feeling is if you’re going to borrow, then borrow from the best. But I’ll admit that when I listen to past Seven Kingdoms albums, there are a few moments where I chuckle because the resemblance to their influences is just a bit too close. I don’t get that same impression from ‘Decennium.’ Oh, I have no doubt that the band’s primary influences are unchanged, but they’re slightly better disguised this time. That said, there is a lick in “The Tale of Deathface Ginny” that is pure, unadulterated Andre Olbrich (Blind Guardian lead guitarist), and I love the band for doing it. There ought to be a law requiring every Seven Kingdoms album to contain at least one part like that in homage to the master. But here (unlike in the past) it doesn’t crop up time and time again in multiple songs to become a distraction.

A sure sign of a great album is when the listener falls for a different favorite song on each pass through. Such is the case with ‘Decennium.’ I’ve probably picked out a half dozen tunes that I would classify as “my favorite” on the disc at various times. When the dust settles, the teaser EP title cut, “In the Walls,” will no doubt be viewed as a standout cut on the album, with its hyperspeed attack, terrific vocal performance from Sabrina Cruz (just listen to how she delivers the line “these bastards, they will not let me sleep”) and haunting lyrics derived from an H.P. Lovecraft short story. Track 9, “Hollow,” also seems destined to be enshrined in Seven Kingdoms immortality. It’s a sub-5:00 speed workout, the most relentlessly fast tune on the record, boasting a chorus to die for (key lyric: “It’s just a game you see / In the end you mean nothing to me”) and a ridiculously awesome choir part leading into and accompanying the final chorus. It’s just jaw-droppingly good. Elsewhere, “Kingslayer,” “Awakened from Nothing,” “Stargazer” and “The Faceless Hero” are all very special songs incorporating all the elements that make Seven Kingdoms great. There is no filler, not a single song I would dream of skipping.

Like many of you, I harbored many questions before hearing ‘Decennium’ in its entirety. Now, I fully understand the answers that I seek are beyond my wildest dreams. In time, you may come to the same realization. For now, let it suffice to say that Seven Kingdoms have cemented their legacy as America’s premier power metal band with an album featuring all their trademarks, only executed a higher level than ever before. If you buy only one traditional power metal album in 2017, there is a compelling argument to be made that it should be ‘Decennium.’ And for heaven’s sake go see Seven Kingdoms live if they come anywhere near you. The band have promised an extensive and ambitious slate of touring in support of this record, beginning with a spring jaunt supporting Evergrey in the USA.

~ Review by Kit Ekman ~ - True Metal Lives

Hailing from Florida this female fronted Power Metal five-piece has already made its way up since their forming in 2007. After numerous tours around USA and Canada, three full length studio albums, it’s now ready to take the next step and join forces with Napalm Records.

A band started for fun, found that hard work and dedication to their craft has major pay offs... SEVEN KINGDOMS is carving its own path in metal history creating something genuinely unique, yet undeniably Power Metal!

SEVEN KINGDOMS on the signing & their new home at Napalm Records:
"We are really happy to announce that we signed a deal with Napalm Records! We were able to pinpoint a deal that will help the band reach many more fans at home and overseas. Along with the newest album Decennium and the In The Walls EP, Napalm will also be repressing our earlier albums, Brothers Of The Night, The Self Titled and The Fire Is Mine. Bands such as Hammerfall, Kamelot, Delain, Powerwolf and Devildriver have made this label home and we are again, just very happy to join those ranks. Napalm has been an undeniable tool in many bigger artist's careers. Thomas and the gang have been really receptive to the material and we are looking forward to getting the band on the next level with the help of Napalm Records."

SEVEN KINGDOMS’ brand new and upcoming album Decennium will be released worldwide via Napalm Records and is already scheduled for a 2017 release! Stay tuned for many more exciting news to come!

The band will be out supporting Evergrey in May and June this year on a massive USA and Canadian tour. Check all dates listed below and make sure to see this power package live on the road:

5.6.17 The Haven - Orlando, FL
5.7.17 The Orpheum - Tampa, FL
5.9.17 Scout Bar - Houston, TX
5.10.17 Gas Monkey - Dallas, TX
5.11.17 The Rock Box - San Antonio, TX
5.13.17 Joe's Grotto - Phoenix, AZ
5.14.17 Brick By Brick - San Diego, CA
5.15.17 Adrenaline bar - Las Vegas, NV
5.17.17 The Viper Room - Los Angeles, CA
5.18.17 TBA - San Francisco, CA
5.19.17 TBA - Portland, OR
5.20.17 Studio Seven - Seattle, WA
5.21.17 The Rickshaw Theater - Vancouver, BC
5.22.17 Dickens Pub - Calgary, AB
5.23.17 Exchange - Regina
5.25.17 The Cabooze - Minneapolis, MN
5.26.17 Reggie's - Chicago, IL
5.27.17 The Token Lounge - Detroit, MI
5.28.17 Mod Club - Toronto, ON
5.30.17 L'Anti - Quebec City, QC
5.31.17 TBA - Montreal, QC
TBA - New York, NY
TBA - Philadelphia, PA

More dates will be announced shortly.

Sabrina Valentine - Vocals
Camden Cruz - Guitar
Kevin Byrd - Guitar
Keith Byrd - Drums
Aaron Sluss - Bass

For More Info Visit: - Napalm Records

Florida power metal act Seven Kingdoms will release new album "Decennium" this January. This 10 year anniversary album follows the successfully crowdfunded "In The Walls" EP, and will feature two songs from the EP along with eight brand new tracks.

A crowdfunding campaign for "Decennium" kicked off on December 9th and surpassed its goal in less then one week. New perks are being added daily, as the campaign runs through the middle of January. Check it out and contribute here.

The band is overwhelmed with the support so far and comments: "We are really thrilled that fans are looking forward to 'Decennium!' With 32 days to go the Kickstarter campaign has already surpassed its $13,500 goal, and is currently at $16,679. We want to thank all our fans for supporting this and showing how powerful crowdfunding and fans can actually be for a growing band. We have now posted our stretch goal and have one more in store if it continues to grow."

1. Stargazer
2. Undying
3. In The Walls
4. The Tale Of Deathface Ginny
5. Castles In The Snow
6. Kingslayer
7. The Faceless Hero
8. Neverending
9. Hollow
10. Awakened From Nothing - Metal Underground

Click link - Wallstreet Journal

In May/June, Danish power/trash quintet MANTICORA will be heading out on tour in Europe alongside US power metal act SEVEN KINGDOMS. The tour is called Re-Claiming The Land Tour, and the final dates for the trek are now announced.

Both bands are super excited about the chance to present a load of strong and powerful material from their respective careers, with the chance of mixing both new and old material. Manticora will headline the tour, and Seven Kingdoms will be the direct co-headliner. It is the plan to turn things around later in the year, where the tour will hopefully visit North America.

Tour dates:


28 - Copenhagen, Denmark - Amager Bio
29 - Hamburg, Germany - Markthalle/MarX
31 - Maasmechelen, Belgium - Concordia (Secrets Of Metal Festival)

1 - London, England - The Underworld Camden
2 - Paris, France - Le Divan Du Monde
3 - Essen, Germany - Turock
5 - Barcelona, Spain - Razzmatazz3
6 - Nice, France - Altherax
7 - Pratteln, Switzerland - Z7
8 - Milano, Italy - Blue Rose Saloon
10 - Bratislava, Slovakia - Randal Club
11 - Wien, Austria - Replugged - Brave Words

Florida power metal act Seven Kingdoms has finalized its schedule of tour dates for the upcoming U.S. headlining tour beginning in Delaware on August 15th. The live dates are in support of the band's latest LP "The Fire Is Mine," which is available now via Nightmare Records (see review at this location).

The final list of dates are as follows:

August 2013:

15: Thur - New Castle, DE @ JB McGinnes
17: Sat - Toronto, Ontario CN @ Rancho Relaxo
18: Sun - Montreal, Quebec CN @ L'Alize
19: Mon – New York, NY @ Webster Hall (get tickets here)
21: Wed – Raleigh, NC @ The Maywood
22: Thur - Charlotte, NC @ Tremont Music Hall
23: Friday – Atlanta, GA @ The Masquerade
24: Sat - Orlando, FL @ The Haven
25: Sunday - Miami, FL @ Churchill's
26: Monday - Tampa, FL @ The Orpheum - Metal Underground

According to an update from Finland's STRATOVARIUS, the US-based band SEVEN KINGDOMS have been added to the bill for their European tour alongside AMARANTHE as support.

For information on Seven Kingdoms go to this location.

The Nordic Nexus Of Nemesis Tour 2013 will kick off in Munich, Germany on March 20th. Confirmed dates include:


20 - Backstagehalle - Munich, Germany
21 - Stadtgarten - Erfurt, Germany
22 - Masters Of Rock Cafe - Zlin, Czech Republic
23 - Club 202 - Budapest, Hungary
24 - Majestic Club - Bratislava, Slovakia
26 - Szene - Vienna, Austria
27 - Hirsch - Nürnberg, Germany
28 - Matrix - Bochum, Germany
29 - Grünspan - Hamburg, Germany
30 - De Pul - Uden, Netherlands
31 - La Cigale - Paris, France

2 - La Laiterie - Strasbourg, France
3 - Le Kao - Lyon, France
5 - Razzmatazz 2 - Barcelona, Spain
6 - Arena - Madrid, Spain
7 - Rock Star - Bilbao, Spain
9 - Z7 - Pratteln, Switzerland
10 - Alcatrazz - Milan, Italia
11 - Rockfabrik - Ludwigsburg, Germany
13 - PPM Fest (Festival) - Mons, Belgium - Brave Words

German power metallers BLIND GUARDIAN will embark on the North American leg of the "Sacred Worlds And Songs Divine 2010 World Tour" in the fall. The trek, which is scheduled to kick off on November 19 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and conclude on December 22 in West Springfield, Virginia, will feature support from California's HOLY GRAIL and Florida's SEVEN KINGDOMS.

Commented BLIND GUARDIAN lead vocalist Hansi Kürsch: "Christmas will be a little earlier this year, 'cause the GUARDIAN is coming to town in November and December!

"The band is really excited to announce this upcoming tour. Finally we will get the chance to preach our Sacred Words and play our Songs Divine somewhere near your neighborhood.

"We have prepared a nice package of music and bands for our Northern American followers. Our friends from HOLY GRAIL and SEVEN KINGDOMS will join us on this glorious mission and will have their part in these magical nights to come. Both bands are underground now, but I can feel that the future is theirs. They really carry the spirit of a new American power metal generation.

"Touring the U.S. and Canada does always means a tremendous amount of fun, so we are really anxious to see if the people in Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, and Albuquerque — where we have not played before — can scream as loud as their brothers and sisters in New York, Quebec, Toronto, or Hollywood. We'll soon find out when we meet you at the edge of time.

"Of course, we have to arrange some time in between playing and traveling for some Christmas gift shopping. I am sure I will find plenty of cool 'Star Wars' action figures and I am already aware of some great Christmas shops near Washington where I will be able to get some great atypical Christmas tree ornaments.

"Strange worlds we are living in: The funniest ones sometimes have been produced in Germany, where you can't get them in stores, so the U.S./Canada trip definitely pays off.

“As for books: Last time we ended up in Portland for a day, and whether I'll make it to Powell's (City of) Books, you never know. :-) All in all, I have far too many books which I have not yet read, but I am constantly working on it. Since I am getting older and the saying is: 'The older you get, the less sleep you need,' I am very optimistic I will manage to read them all when the nights are getting shorter."

Confirmed North American dates for the "Sacred Worlds And Songs Divine Tour" are as follows:

Nov. 19 - The Trocadero - Philadelphia, PA
Nov. 20 - Nokia Theatre - New York, NY
Nov. 21 - The Palladium - Worcester, MA
Nov. 23 - Metropolis - Montreal, QC - Canada
Nov. 25 - Theatre Capitole - Quebec City, QC - Canada
Nov. 26 - Kool Haus - Toronto, ON - Canada
Nov. 27 - Royal Oak Music Theatre - Royal Oak, MI
Nov. 29 - Bottom Lounge - Chicago, IL
Nov. 30 - The Cabooze - Minneapolis, MN
Dec. 01 - The Garrick Centre - Winnipeg, MB - Canada
Dec. 03 - MacEwan Hall Ballroom - Calgary, AB - Canada
Dec. 04 - The Starlite Room - Edmonton, AB - Canada
Dec. 06 - Showbox at The Market - Seattle, WA
Dec. 08 - The Regency Ballroom - San Francisco, CA
Dec. 09 - Henry Fonda Theatre / The Music Box - Los Angeles, CA
Dec. 10 - Marquee Theatre - Tempe, AZ
Dec. 11 - Sunshine Theater - Albuquerque, NM
Dec. 12 - Bluebird Theater - Denver, CO
Dec. 14 - Trees - Dallas, TX
Dec. 15 - Scout Bar - Houston, TX
Dec. 17 - The Orange Peel - Asheville, NC
Dec. 18 - The State Theatre - St. Petersburg, FL (Florida Power Fest)
Dec. 19 - The Masquerade - Atlanta, GA
Dec. 21 - Lincoln Theatre - Raleigh, NC
Dec. 22 - Jaxx - W. Springfield, VA

Read more at - Blabbermouth

After a successful run a year earlier, Camden had looked forward to returning to Europe, where Seven Kingdoms' fast, melodic, heavy metal music with soaring vocals and rousing choruses is popular.

But he didn't know enough at the time to ask to see the budgets.

Now the band he had nurtured for seven years, that gave his life new purpose after head injuries ended a promising motocross career, was in financial peril.

And it wasn't just Camden who needed the band. It fulfilled his wife's dreams of a professional singing career. It gave brothers Keith and Kevin Byrd the courage to make important lifestyle changes. It provided a family to bassist Aaron Sluss, who lost his parents and home in a tornado at age 16.

Without a major turnaround, it could all come to an end.

• • •

LOREN ELLIOTT | TimesGuitarist Camden Cruz, left, drummer Keith Byrd, center, and bassist Aaron Sluss, right prepare the stage before a show at the Orpheum in Ybor City in May. Seven Kingdoms was opening for Swedish progressive metal band, Evergrey.
Before the tour, Seven Kingdoms appeared to be on a steady upward trajectory. The band had released three albums to increasing sales and critical acclaim.

It had been supporting bigger bands, including a North American tour with Blind Guardian and a European one with Stratovarius, two titans in the genre. Seven Kingdoms even headlined its own shows.

But after a decade of losing money, sacrificing friendships, changing jobs, missing social outings and watching parents struggle to help them, the band members needed to see some return on their investment.

Seven Kingdoms decided to take two major risks: putting the band on hold for two years to rebuild its savings, and changing the way it financed its albums.

Camden decided to finance a four-song EP and 10th anniversary album without a label. He hoped a crowd-funding campaign would allow him to recoup the anticipated $18,000 to $20,000 cost.

The band could collect 100 percent of its sales instead of the couple of bucks per CD that a normal licensing deal might give. And instead of accepting an advance it would have to pay back, it could start by owing nothing and still shop its catalog to labels afterward.

"They have abandoned the vestiges of the old music industry,'' said producer Jim Morris of Morrisound Recording.

It would be a risk, but a calculated one.

Each of them had overcome far too much to turn back now.

• • •

LOREN ELLIOTT | TimesFrom left, Kevin Byrd, Sabrina Cruz and Camden Cruz perform at the Orpheum in Ybor City. Seven Kingdoms has been a mainstay on the Florida club circuit for much of the past decade, headlining shows at the Orpheum in 2013 and '16.
Darlene Herndon didn't see her son cross the finish line, so she knew he was down. As he lay on the track, all Darlene remembers is running to the first ambulance she could find, banging on the windows and pleading, "Please help me."

Camden had been racing motocross nearly every weekend since age 11. He was one of the fastest riders in his class, regularly finishing in the top 10.

Except for a sprained ankle or broken arm, Camden had avoided injury. But that didn't make it easier to watch his races.

"I felt like every time he left the starting line, I had gone there to watch my child die," Darlene said.

Special to the TimesCamden Cruz raced throughout the east coast of the United States in the AMA motorcycle club. Here, he is pictured at the Loretta Lynn Southeast Regional Qualifier in 2003 at Paradise Off Road Park in Macon, Ga.LOREN ELLIOTT | TimesSeven Kingdoms performs at the Orpheum in May. "In many ways, they are more professional than the band I play with,'' says Stratovarius keyboardist Jens Johansson.
One day in 2003, he landed wrong on a jump, coming down on his face and cracking his helmet. He suffered a concussion and a broken arm.

A year later, Camden was hit by another rider during a tabletop jump 20 feet in the air. He landed on the back of his shoulder and his head, the impact knocking him out.

"It was the scariest thing I've ever seen," said Camden's father, Chris Cruz.

The result was a badly bruised shoulder, a torn rotator cuff and, worse still, a second concussion. A neurologist told the family another hit to the head could result in permanent damage.

Photo by Zack WittmanCamden Cruz tracks rhythm guitars at North Avenue Studios in Orange City in June 2016. Fellow guitarist Kevin Byrd's hands are pictured at right.
At age 15, Camden said goodbye to racing and the only life he knew.

"That's kind of a tough pill to swallow," he said. "But at that point, I knew that in order to take that next step forward (with motocross) it would take drastic changes I wasn't willing to do."

Camden took up guitar as a distraction. By the time he performed the national anthem a year later at the Daytona Supercross, he was playing with a purpose.

"Guitar kind of saved him," Darlene said, "because the sport he grew up in and all of the friends he had were racers. So, guitar really was a bridge between the life he could have no more and something else."

• • •

Photo by Zack WittmanSabrina Cruz, left, and former Seven Kingdoms vocalist Bryan Edwards, right, perform at Cafe DaVinci in DeLand in October. Bryan has his own band, Soulmass, and continues to write lyrics and occasionally appears on stage with Seven Kingdoms.
Bryan Edwards co-founded Seven Kingdoms with Camden in 2007. The friends wanted to get away from the metalcore scene and write the music they enjoyed.

When they started the band, it was about having fun. But over time, things changed. Camden needed more from Bryan as a vocalist: time, commitment, progress. Bryan had other priorities: school, health, a girlfriend.

Things came to a head as the band was preparing its second album. They cut one demo before Bryan was out.

"It was like four chess pieces are moving forward,'' Camden said, "and then one is straggling behind.''

Photo by Zack WittmanSabrina Cruz, pictured during a rehearsal at the band's rehearsal shed in Winter Haven in October. Sabrina first helped at the merchandise table and took photos at shows before joining the band as lead vocalist in 2008.
Fortunately, a new singer was close at hand. A couple of years earlier, Camden was hanging show fliers inside Tom's Pizza in DeLand. Sabrina, who was ringing up his order, mentioned that she could sing.

"Oh, maybe you can come sing on the record sometime," he recalls telling her, "har, har."

What Camden didn't know was that Sabrina had been singing for most of her life.

Her mother was a massage therapist, and Sabrina was drawn to the healing power of music. She saw herself one day becoming a soundscape singer, along the lines of Enya.

At one point during their first date, Camden asked Sabrina if she had ever listened to power metal. "This massive door blew me right down,'' she said.

Photo by Zack WittmanSabrina Cruz sings at Cafe DaVinci in DeLand in October. Like many children, Sabrina grew up listening to the music her parents did, primarily gospel and country.
Later, when Camden was working on the demo for a song, he asked Sabrina to "do some oohs, see if you can record it in key.''

Camden's mom walked in the room. Hearing Sabrina's voice, Darlene tilted her head, lifted an eyebrow and said, "Camden …"

Sabrina had mixed feelings about taking Bryan's place in the band. While she would be realizing a childhood dream of singing professionally, she considered him an older brother.

"I totally felt like I was betraying one of my good friends," she says

Sabrina's first live show was in December 2008 at the Dungeon in Orlando. Though there were only about 15 people, she felt stiff and stood mostly still on stage.

"It was terrifying," she said. "It felt like judgment day."

Photo by Zack WittmanSabrina Cruz, front, and Liz Iaconis, right, prepare coffee in the kitchenette as the rest of the band tracks bass and rhythm guitars at North Avenue Studios in Orange City in June 2016. Liz is the girlfriend of bassist Aaron Sluss.
Recording brought new challenges. Because Seven Kingdoms' music didn't have natural breaks, Sabrina would have to create them. She stretched herself, at times to the point of tears.

Still, producer Jim Morris saw the potential.

"I remember taking Camden aside and saying, 'You should be writing songs for this girl,' '' Morris said. " 'It gives you a platform to write more interesting, melodic stuff.' "

When the album came out, Bryan posted a video on YouTube saying he disagreed with the decision to push him out but continued to support the band.

"Friends eventually come back together, and you're still the same friends," said Bryan, who continues to write lyrics for the band.

• • •

Photo by Zack WittmanAaron Sluss sticks out his tongue while performing at Cafe DaVinci in DeLand in October. Aaron got his first real exposure to music from his father, Mike, who played guitar and was a fan of the Eagles, Eric Clapton and the Grateful Dead.
Aaron Sluss woke up in a field, surrounded by darkness and rain. Looking down, he saw his hands covered in blood.

The last thing he remembered that day in 2007 was being awakened in his family's trailer around 3 or 4 a.m. by what sounded like a train. The trailer started shaking. Aaron thought, "What kind of (messed-up) dream is this?"

His bedroom window shattered and blew in. The next thing he knew, he was in the middle of a neighbor's field.

He had severed tendons in one hand, a fractured wrist, broken vertebrae and a collapsed lung.

In the hospital, family friends broke the devastating news that the tornado that leveled the trailer, barn and blacksmith shop on his family's Lake County lot had also taken the lives of Aaron's parents, Mike and Melinda.

Photo by Zack WittmanAaron Sluss kisses his girlfriend, Liz Iaconis, near Seven Kingdoms' merchandise table before the band's show at the Orpheum in May.
After everything he had experienced that day, it hardly came as a surprise.

"I was just going along with whatever was happening,'' Aaron says. He was 16.

Aaron suffered back pain. He couldn't sit up straight due to curvature in his spine. He lost much of the dexterity in his left hand, setting back his bass playing.

About two years after he was released from the hospital, he met Camden and Sabrina through mutual friends. He happened to be with them when bassist Miles Neff left the band after a 2010 show.

Seven Kingdoms had a North American tour scheduled with Blind Guardian, so it needed a replacement in a hurry.

"If you really need someone," Aaron said, "I guess I can do it."

Photo by Zack Wittman"I don't know anybody else that has had so much taken away and still made the right choices to go in the right direction,'' Sabrina Cruz, left, says of Aaron Sluss, right.
Aaron's first show was in front of about 1,200 people at the at the Trocadero Theatre in Philadelphia.

"Aaron went from basically zero experience on stage to, 'Here's the biggest crowd you've ever seen,' " Camden said.

Aaron, 26, keeps his parents in his thoughts. He owns the family property in Lake County and visits from time to time to mow the grass and clear debris. He hopes to one day be able to build there.

"To see him now, you would never know,'' Camden says. "It's in the past, and all that lives is the memory. What a shining example of moving on and dealing with life and the cards that you're dealt with.''

• • •

Photo by Zack Wittman"Now you look at him, and he's just solid steel,'' friend Tyler McDaniel says of Kevin Byrd, pictured. "He's a gentle giant now. He could toss you across the room in a heartbeat, but he's the nicest guy in the world.''
It was as much a part of his setup as his guitar and his amplifier. Every time Kevin Byrd stepped on stage with Seven Kingdoms, he brought a small wooden stool with him.

He'd prop his left foot on it and place his guitar on his knee. It reduced the weight on his back, gave him better balance.

Kevin's weight caused him discomfort and made it difficult to move. Though he never failed to finish a show, he lacked energy and tired easily.

At his heaviest, in 2013, he weighed 335 pounds. As recently as February 2014, he was 322.

Rainer Kerber PhotographyKevin Byrd, pictured before he lost 145 pounds. At his heaviest, in 2013, he weighed 335.
A commenter on a message board referred to him as the "fat guitarist.'' A reviewer in Chicago identified him as "the one fat guy.'' Kevin would see footage of himself on stage and think, "I look so terrible.''

He had tried to lose weight but lacked the willpower to stick with it. A Netflix documentary, Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, changed everything.

Joe Cross, 100 pounds overweight and suffering from a debilitating autoimmune disease, regains his health after going on a 60-day juice diet.

Inspired, Kevin bought a juicer and stocked up on fruits and vegetables. For three days, he put nothing else in his body. He dragged weights out of his closet and put them to use. Baked chicken breasts and steamed vegetables replaced fast food in his diet. He drank water, ditched soda.

About two years after devoting himself to diet and exercise, Kevin was down to 190 pounds.

Photo by Zack WittmanGuitarist Kevin Byrd jokes with bandmates at the band's rehearsal shed in Winter Haven in October.
In February 2016, Kevin stepped on stage at the Orpheum in Tampa's Ybor City without his stool.

"It was really rewarding, because I wasn't tethered to something,'' he said. "I didn't have to rely on something to perform well.''

These days, Kevin, 30, can't play a show without someone walking up to him and telling him how good he looks. He is even inspiring some of his bandmates, including his brother, Keith.

"I'm definitely not eating all of the junk I used to be eating,'' said Keith, the drummer. "I'm thinking a lot about what I'm putting in my body and trying to be more active.''

Kevin keeps the stool in his bedroom, a reminder of how far he has come.

"I never thought I'd have the willpower or the patience," he said. "I have a bit more respect for myself than I ever have before.''

• • •

LOREN ELLIOTT | TimesCamden Cruz looks over the merchandise table before Seven Kingdoms' show at the Orpheum in May. Camden immersed himself in the business side of the music industry, working as a booking agent, tour manager and artist manager.
After returning from Europe in 2014, the band members went back to their day jobs. Camden immersed himself in the music business, working as a booking agent, tour manager and artist manager.

When he had saved enough to cover the cost of recording, Camden decided it was time to return to the studio — four years after the band's previous release.

It was crucial that the band not owe anything, so Camden created models based on what he had seen fans buy at the band's merchandise table and online store. He set a goal of $6,500 for the In the Walls crowd-funding campaign and $13,500 for the 10th anniversary album, Decennium.

The first Kickstarter launched in July. As he worked at his father's paint and body shop, Camden checked his phone every 10 minutes for updates.

After a week, the band reached its goal. In all, 235 backers pledged more than $12,000 total. It covered the cost of the merchandise and gave the band a leg up on its second Kickstarter.

Photo by Zack WittmanDrummer Keith Byrd practices at the band's rehearsal shed in Winter Haven. "Keith is just like a wizard animated a lawn gnome into a full-size human,'' bassist Aaron Sluss says, "and put drum sticks in his hand.''
In the studio, things were coming together for what the band expected to be the best music it had ever recorded: fast, heavy and complex, with great production and eye-catching artwork.

In December, Seven Kingdoms launched a Kickstarter for Decennium. It reached its initial goal of $13,500 in just over a week. Still, Camden knew the campaign would have to reach $20,000 for the band to recoup most of its costs. In the end, more than 300 people pledged over $23,000.

Total costs for the two albums, including expenses, came to around $36,000. Camden's projections were nearly spot-on.

"It kept the band alive," he said.

In the Walls was released in September and Decennium in January. After a half-dozen tracking sessions in DeLand, three mixing sessions in north Tampa and three months of rehearsals, the album cycle was complete.

In March, Seven Kingdoms had something else to celebrate.

The band inked a worldwide deal with Napalm Records, home to bands such as Kamelot and Hammerfall, to re-press and promote its entire music catalog.

Camden believes Napalm, which is headquartered in Austria, will be instrumental in helping the band get back to Europe. Prospects for turning the band into a full-time job will depend on touring internationally.

Blind Guardian vocalist Hansi Kursch, whose band has headlined festivals around the world, said his band didn't benefit from one big break, but a series of small ones: its first record deal, a highly acclaimed show in front of 12 paying customers, its first chart entry in Japan.

FRANK PASTOR | TimesFrom left, Camden Cruz, Sabrina Cruz, Kevin Byrd, Aaron Sluss and Keith Byrd celebrate Seven Kingdoms' deal with Napalm Records in March at Grove Roots Brewing Company in Winter Haven.
He sees the same qualities in Seven Kingdoms that allowed his band to survive: confidence and perseverance. "Seven Kingdoms may not become a world success overnight,'' he said, "but by having a long breath, will manage to become bigger and bigger.''

Following a North American tour with the Swedish band Evergrey in the spring, Seven Kingdoms looks forward to a possible return to Europe in 2018, healthier and hungrier than ever.

"We're on the best foot we've ever been on," Keith says. "I definitely feel like we hibernated, and we're ready to start eating."

For Camden, who learned the business side of the industry so his band can avoid the problems of 2014, the past two years have a more personal meaning.

"I made good on my word," he said, "that I'd never let that happen again." - Tampa Bay Times


Brothers Of The Night (2007)

Self-Titled (2010) 

The Fire Is Mine (2012)

In The Walls E.P. (2016)

Decennium (2017) 

All albums available worldwide via Napalm Records



SEVEN KINGDOMS was formed in Deland, FL in 2007. The band began to play shows, went through all the usual "underground band" ups-and-down; members came and went; numerous local shows; an independently released debut album; etc. Finally, once they had a more solidified lineup, the band signed a management/booking deal with Intromental Worldwide in 2009, which lead to a record deal with Nightmare Records. 

Shortly after the release of their Nightmare Records debut "Seven Kingdoms" (their second release, but first featuring female vocalist Sabrina Valentine) SEVEN KINGDOMS played the opening party at the very prestigious ProgPower USA and was then handpicked by the legendary German power metal band, Blind Guardian, to open their 2010 North American tour, which saw the band playing in front of tens of thousands of metal fans throughout USA and Canada. This tour gained the band exponential amounts of exposure, to their direct market. SEVEN KINGDOMS went on to play several one off's and smaller tours in 2011 ending with the "Uniting The Powers Of Metal” tour alongside other uprising power metal acts such as Artizan, Creation's End and Widow. The band capped off 2011 signing endorsement deals with Engl Amplification and Warwick Basses / Amps. 

The First show of 2012 came with a slot on the 70,000 Tons Of Metal Preparty, playing to a packed house at the Grand Central venue in Miami. In May of 2012 the band entered Morrisound Studios to creating a record powerful enough to hang with the best in metal. With legendary producer Jim Morris (Iced Earth, Obituary, JOP, Jag Panzer etc) at the helm and much more experience gained, SEVEN KINGDOMS created their next melodic power thrash opus. 

Upon completion of the recording of their new album, SEVEN KINGDOMS signed an extension of their deal with Nightmare Records. The Music Video for 'After The Fall' premiered at ProgPower USA on the big screen, directly before the set of Symphony X to a captive crowd. The video went viral for a short period of time, gaining over 400,000+ views on Youtube. The record, titled “The Fire is Mine”, was unleashed on October 9, 2012. 

"The Fire is Mine", was the third offering from Florida's SEVEN KINGDOMS, showing a great solidification in their sound and direction; they amped up every aspect from song writing, vocals to production and live performance. This one goes to eleven on all counts - including the number of tracks! The vocals and beautiful crystalline melodies of Sabrina Valentine are uniquely set in a furious power/thrash metal attack, blended with epic choirs and the occasional beer-chanting of the men of SEVEN KINGDOMS.

After the release of 'The Fire Is Mine", SEVEN KINGDOMS hosted their own CD release party at the Deland Rock & Metal Festival, and then played a few supporting shows in Florida with Queensryche, Jon Oliva's Pain and also Firewind. The band was then added to the massive Stratovarius and Amaranthe European tour in 2013, where they were able to break into the European market and play in front of tens of thousands of hungry fans. This tour also included a slot on the prestigious PPM Festival in Belgium where they shared the stage alongside bands like Avantasia, Queensryche, Behemoth, Helloween and Gamma Ray. Upon the return home, SEVEN KINGDOMS set out on a short east coast Canadian and USA Headlining run, their first non-supporting tour. They closed 2013 off with a performance at the Deland Rock & Metal Festival along side Circle II Circle. SEVEN KINGDOMS then headed out for their final European Tour in support of 'The Fire Is Mine' in May/June of 2014. They toured along side their friends in the Danish band, Manticora. SEVEN KINGDOMS then took some time for writing, taking select dates with repeat appearances at the DeLand Rock & Metal Festival and openings for Sonata Arctica and Doro in their home state of Florida.

SEVEN KINGDOMS entered the studio for their 10th year anniversary album in the summer of 2016. Teaming up again with Jim Morris for Recording and Mixing SEVEN KINGDOMS then headed into North Avenue Studios. Guitar engineer Phil Pluskota (Abiotic, King Conquer)  assisted in the tracking, along with Tyler McDaniel and then Jacob Hansen (Pretty Maids, Volbeat, Amaranthe) for the Mastering process. In The Walls EP was released in late 2016 via Kickstarter which raised over $12,000, nearly double of the goal. Following up in 2017, the full length album, Decennium, was also successfully funded via Kickstarter raising over $23,000, again almost doubling the original goal. The success of this DIY soft release gained the attention of Napalm Records, who then signed SEVEN KINGDOMS and re-pressed the bands entire catalog. SEVEN KINGDOMS was then chosen as the special guest by the Swedish band, Evergrey, for a massive North American tour in 2017 over May and June.

Band Members