10 Feb 2023 - Martin
Melodic Death (Black) Metal | 20 Buck Spin | Release date: 03 Mar 2023 | Favorite song: In Yearning, Alive!
”Alter Schwede!” This could be everything I would need to say to describe this record in a nutshell. Lo and behold it is even an Melodic Death Metal album, a genre not very often touched upon on Veil of Sound. Maybe, because it is a genre that nowadays tastes like mere bread and butter? Nothing new to write about. No lasting and novel experiences that could stir your music-loving soul, a voyage of discovery. But why is this record different? How is it possible to sound like the source itself, but nevertheless fresh and new at the very same time? Hitting you directly between the eyes. And what the heck has an old Swede to do with anything of this? Raise the curtain for Majesties and their debut album: Vast Reaches Unclaimed!
In a time where legends and founders of Melodeath come back strong on their umpteenth record (In Flames, The Halo Effect, Amorphis, Insomnium etc.) and new descendants rejuvenate the genre with ”new” takes on an old formula (Hath, Brymir, Allegaeon, An Abstract Illusion etc.), adding progressive, black and symphonic flourishes into the mix, Vast Reaches Unclaimed is a record that like no other harkens back to the very beginning of this style of music. Somehow it transports you directly to Gothenburg in the Mid-90´s without being a copy or trite and what it transports is what is most important - the feeling. Something lost and now rediscovered.
Think about the first At the Gates, In Flames and Dark Tranquility albums between 1994 and 1996. Majesties’ debut is like listening to those records again for the first time and feeling the same rush of adrenaline. Your hear melody after melody, riff after riff - twin guitar harmonies galore. A driving and forward pushing rythm section, sometimes with this glorious galloping sound, that you didn´t know you were missing so much. And a voice that shifts between Tomas Lindberg and Chuck Schuldiner on one side and Jon Nödtveidt on the other and here we have the special ingredient from Majesties: They seamlessly incorporate melodic Black Metal influences à la Dissection and other classic and hip BM features (tremolo, acoustic guitar interludes and ambience from Medieval Black Metal) into their sound (listen to ”Across the Neverwhen” and ”Sidereal Spire”). Picking the best parts of both worlds.
But that shouldn´t be a surprise, because Majesties consists of Obsequiae´s Tanner Anderson as well as the Inexorum members Carl Skildum and Matthew Kirkwold. Former a revered Melodic Black Metal band with medieval Folk influences, the latter a young upcomer that also uses Folk besides Death Metal elements in their Meloblack sound. With Majesties they combine their individual strengths and fuse those into something irresistable. On top of that, there is even some 80´s Heavy Metal (”Our Gracious Captors”).
Vast Reaches Unclaimed starts with two infectious bangers. Especially the opener ”In Yearning, Alive” grips you by the neck and thrusts you into a world full of unknown dangers. Sounding like a streamlined Stormkeep playing Melodic Death Metal. It´s heroic, full of grandeur, uplifting and infectious as hell. You will feel energized and this feeling doesn´t slack over the course of the whole record, while all the other aforementioned ingredients further invigorate its overall sound.
I have to be honest, I was fully surprised, even astonished, when I listened to Majesties’ debut. For someone who found his way into Metal music through Melodeath in the 90´s and lost interest in this subgenre over time this felt like a homecoming. There we come to the old Swede from the beginning. After all, it´s old Swedish Melodic Death Metal brought back to life and ”Alter Schwede” is fittingly an old German saying for being astonished/surprised.
Somehow Majesties made Melodic Death Metal come full circle. Reviving the origins without neglecting what has happened in-between. New and old at the same time – timeless? Who knows. But what I am sure of is, that they have claimed their place in my heart. ”Vast reaches still unclaimed.” You will be conquered next. Beware and rejoice!