Released: 2002, Massacre Records
Reviewer: Night of the Realm
Ever since I read reviews praising the self-released debut album, KEEP IT TRUE, this German true heavy metal band has been on my want list. Although KEEP IT TRUE is still on my wish list, I wasted no time scoring Majesty’s second and latest album, SWORD AND SORCERY at the first available opportunity.
From the moment I put SWORD AND SORCERY into my stereo, I was hooked. There are no big surprises on this disc, and what you see is what you get. From the Conan the Barbarian on the cover, to the song titles, which include “Heavy Metal,” “Epic War,” “Fist of Steel,” and my personal favourite, “Metal to the Metalheads,” one has no need to guess what Majesty are all about.
No intro needed, the title track lays down the foundation for the album. Here we have a classic, mid-paced anthemic track. The chorus is strong and catchy; within moments, my head was banging, and my fist pumping in the air. Interestingly, the notes to this song indicate that it inspired by a forthcoming novel, titled SWORD AND SORCERY, written by vocalist Tarek Maghary. If the title track laid the groundwork, then the next track, “Fields of War,” annihilates everything in its path. As if the thick chords of the riffs of axemen Tarek Maghary and Udo Keppner, combined with the furious double bass kicking of Michael Gräter were not enough, the vocal performance of Tarek is un-fucking-believable. Tarek’s voice lies more in the mid-range, but never before have I heard someone who can scream so much like Eric Adams and growl so closely to David Defeis. The guy is amazing! The solos at the end are killer, too. It took me five listens on this track before I could move onto the next song. Another anthem comes up next with the apt title of “Heavy Metal.” This one again is like the first, a mid-paced banger; it is interrupted only by a furious guest solo by ex-Manowar guitarist Ross the Boss!
Obviously by now, one should have an idea Majesty’s sound and philosophy, so I will highlight some of my favourite moments from the album:
The closing minutes of “Epic War” could easily have come from Virgin Steele’s MARRIAGE albums. Very nice touch!
“Ride Silent” has all the trappings of a classic Manowar doom-epic.
“Aria of Bravery” is another track based on Tarek’s upcoming SWORD AND SORCERY novel. It is a heavy, epic ballad, slowly building to a powerful crescendo with even more Virgin Steele bits towards the end.
Metal to the Metalheads closes the album and is the epitome of cheese. Note that this is not a bad thing at all, and this tune is one of the best on the disc. The pace of this track is another of the epic, semi-doom variety, and the chanting chorus calls is the rallying cry for all true metalheads to come to arms. I find this a fitting track to close the disc.
Both the production and packaging are very nicely done. If the cover illustration looks familiar, that is because it was painted by none other than Ken Kelly, famous for his art on the Manowar albums. The production, handled by Tarek Maghary himself, is crystal clear and mixed at the right levels to make every instrument audible.
I am very pleased with the album overall, and I am sure that fans of classic and true metal will as well. The only big issue I have with the album is that some of the songs could benefit from a kicked-up tempo. If more songs were in the vein of “Fields of War,” this one would rival anything Manowar has put out. Still, for only having two albums to their credit, Majesty have demonstrated considerable talent and maturity. I can only imagine this band improving with time.