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Released: 2002, Scarlet Records
Italy’s Thy Majesty has returned with a bold new album entitled HASTINGS 1066. The band has unquestionably progressed from their previous album, THE LASTING POWER (2000). Improvement comes in the song-writing department as well as the entire album having a much fuller and great sound. I’ve been eagerly awaiting Thy Majestie’s triumphant return since their very promising debut and I have not been let down!
The first thing I have to get out of the way is to clear up the Rhapsody comparisons. Thy Majestie of course have SOME common ground with the grand masters of epic melodic, symphonic, over the top power metal, but on HASTINGS 1066 we see the band sounding a lot less like Rhapsody. To highlight just some of the differences - Thy Majestie have more of a progressive edge to their music, they use choirs in an entirely different way, their chorus sections are nothing like Rhapsody’s “sing-along” happy-go-lucky choruses – in fact Thy Majestie’s blend of metal is much darker and brooding than many power metallers, their orchestration sections are not used in the same manner, there is a much more stronger medieval and folk element peaking between the metallic cracks in the music, etc. etc.. Of course both bands will share a common fan base, and it’s the fans of both bands like myself who will pick up on and appreciate the differences between the two. It’s only to those who don’t grasp this style of metal who will think it’s all the same. That’s their loss!
It’s quite hard for me to pick out just a couple of the hotspots on this CD because I honestly like all the songs on here. Of course something like “Echoes Of War” is an easy one to highlight because it is immediately catchy and features some great melodies that are more memorable then some of the other songs on here. Track #8, “The Scream of Taillefer” is also a stand out because of its diversity between the mellow sections to some of the album’s more aggressive moments with very speedy riffing and killer double kick drums. For a song that is an outstanding mix of metal a movie soundtrack, I think “Anger of Fate” comes in close to the top. It’s a slower paced song with the orchestration taking a slightly higher position in places. There are clean guitar parts in here as well. It’s not a song for speed freaks, but it does break things down providing a welcome change in pace. Vocalist, Dario Grillo, shines on this one as well sounding almost operatic in places. His vocal range is not that super high and he thankfully does not try to strain his voice to sing higher than he should. His voice sounds rich and passionate on this one. This track also has a bass solo provided by Dario D'Alessandro that is very nicely done. The album’s last song has a very cool titled - “Demons on the Crown.” Guitarist Maurizio Malta plays some stand out leads on this one!
I was hoping that there would have been a few sound effects on the album between songs like the sounds of battle or some spoken word sections help set up the story. Many songs are joined by orchestral or folk-ish interludes, but they could have had them embellished a little more. For a storyline like this, these elements are a necessity in my opinion. Many songs begin with very cool intros that sound like they could of come from a movie like Conan or some other grandiose tale.
It’s really cool that the band has chosen to make HASTINGS 1066 the historical backdrop for their album. Rather then deal with fictitious stories of dragons and magic, they have chosen to cover reality. A lot of research and thought went into covering this historical event. The album cover art even shows some of the The Bayeux Tapestry, which is an embroidery measuring some 230 feet long and 20 inches wide that depicts different events from the Norman invasion of England.
Fans of epic, melodic and symphonic power metal will definitely appreciate Thy Majestie. For those who don’t like these types of elements in your metal, there’s not much here that will be for you, but it’s not for that type of listener that this album was made. HASTINGS 1066 is a definite contender for the best epic metal album of 2002!