Today we will take a deeper look at one of the driving forces in melodic dubstep. Jeff Montalvo, better known by his stage name Seven Lions, burst onto the scene with his 2011 remix of Above & Beyond’s ‘You Got To Go’. With his classic sound, Seven Lions is able blend beautiful vocals with distorted synths, leads, and sound effects in order to achieve danceable dubstep with melodies that will make even the most stoic cry. In 2012 he released his debut EP called Days To Come. Incredibly diverse in sound from each song to the next, the four song EP catapulted Seven Lions onto many electronic websites’ top albums of the year lists. Later that year BBC’s Radio 1 put some of his songs on their circuit, and at this point Seven Lions gained a significant following.
In April 2013, he released his Polarize EP through Viper Recordings. This particular release continued his use of melodic composition with a slightly heavier emphasis on the darker and bass dubstep sound.
In what may possibly be the album that catapulted Seven Lions into the international spotlight, the 2014 release Worlds Apart employed Ellie Goulding, Kerli, and Tove Lo in order to give the album a more vocal feel than ever before. With songs like ‘Don’t Leave’ and ‘Strangers’, Seven Lions found massive mainstream success. In all honesty, the least listened to song on the album by streams is ‘Worlds Apart’, and it is still an incredibly beautiful song. However, the darker sound is still present with the song titled ‘Nepenthe’, keeping all fans satisfied with the release and begging for more.
The next year (2015) saw a quick turnaround for another album release with ‘The Throes Of Winter’ highlighted by ‘Lose Myself’, yet another vocal heavy track expertly blended with both melodic elements and his well-known dubstep sound. But this album wouldn’t be complete without ‘December’, a powerful dubstep track using the male vocalist Davey Havok of AFI. This album was a great solidification of his now famous sound, and somewhat a safe release. Later that year, Seven Lions released what is arguably his most popular single release entitled ‘Falling Away’. This song immediately saw a festival mix release, which flipped the song’s vibe upside down, with a euphoric lead at the culmination in lieu of the more chilled out version the original offered.
Later in 2016, Seven Lions was beginning to ascend into untouchable status with releases like his Creation album. The album titled song on the album introduced a wailing synth along with somber vocals from Vök to create yet another hit. Another male vocal led song on the album that has seen mainstream success is ‘Coming Home’ with Detroit based vocalist Mike Mains. However, Seven Lions kept his darker dubstep sound that has existed since the beginning, including songs like ‘Leaving Earth’, a very instrumental song blending his usual elements with an acoustic guitar.
I would be remiss if I did not mention what is probably Seven Lions’ most popular mainstream track to date called ‘Rush Over Me’. This time collaborating with rising stars Illenium and Said the Sky, the hype for this release was incredible when everyone heard it was coming. You can hear elements from all the collaborators of the track, and due to this the song was an immediate hit that left fans of all three artists craving more.
2017 saw Seven Lions transform his sound yet keep aspects of his original melodic dubstep sound, all while adding the newly popular future bass sound. His release ‘Higher Love’ on Above & Beyond’s label Anjunabeats was an immediate success that was ready for the festival circuit, electrifying audiences everywhere. But it was the ‘Where I Won’t Be Found EP’ that highlighted Seven Lions’ huge 2017. Probably my personal favorite album/EP of his, Where I Won’t Be Found is stacked with massive future bass vibes coupled with more complimentary and beautiful vocals. The first song, ‘Freesol’ is a tear jerker if I have ever heard one, with the culmination of the buildup blasting you with a wall of melodic sound. Another track that is unlike Freesol in the best way possible is the EP titled song ‘Where I Won’t Be Found’. This song is a song that will have you jumping around to yet another euphoric lead created by Seven Lions. This album is an incredible departure from his usual sound, yet gives the fans something to look forward to in the future.
What can his fans look forward to you might ask? On February 14th of 2018, he released a song he had been playing at his sets for nearly a year before called ‘Calling You Home’. Fans (including myself) had been begging him to release the song, and he finally did, but the interesting thing about this release was his announcement of his new label Ophelia. With ‘Calling You Home’ as the first release on his new label, he has renewed the hype for his music, leaving fans wondering what will come next.
I had the pleasure to see Seven Lions live over new years, and he is without a doubt one of the most talented producers/DJs I have ever seen. You can expect him to focus on playing his music without yelling into the microphone, because his music is not well complimented by talking. Below I have attached some videos of some notable songs he has played at his sets for anyone who is interested in finding out more!