Released: 2012, Scarlet Records
Back in September, 2012 I took a look at some new, underground Italian Power Metal bands in a five CD review feature. This month we are going to look back at 2012 and some of the titans of Italian Power Metal who released albums this year. They are Elvenking, Rhapsody, Skylark, Thy Majestie, and White Skull. I call them ‘titans’ because all these bands have been around for 15 years or more and are all in that 5 - 9 album zone…pretty impressive! We also reviewed the new Secret Sphere and Vision Divine last month who also meet this criteria. Enjoy!
It’s been four long years since the last album by Thy Majestie. In the intervening four years the band has signed to Scarlet, which should in theory increase their exposure once again. Unfortunately perhaps the band led by the rhythm section of Claudio (drums) and Dario (bass) has had more line-up changes, something that has plagued the band since the beginning. Since the last studio album DAWN in 2008, the band has replaced their keyboardist and replaced their singer. It’s tough to maintain momentum or an identity when the last three albums have each had a different singer. Alessio Taormina heeds the call to sing, making him the 4th singer in ten years but he is up to the challenge and performs admirably.
Technical aspects aside, it’s great to have the band back and the new album SHIHUANGDI is the bands fifth. This time the group has presented another historical thematic album, this time centered on the history of China. It’s a good move because not many bands have really explored (lyrically) the massive history of that great nation. The cover art is also very eye-catching, considerably different from the European mythological/historical themes of previous albums like HASTINGS 1066 and JEANNE D’ARC. The production is top-notch and the mix is good as well.
Musically this is one of their strongest albums. The songs seem to have more power and a dynamic range. The epic symphonic elements are in place, lots of orchestration and vibrant interludes and introductions. For a nice example of the militaristic themed introduction, check out the cut ‘Under The Same Sky’, which has a bit of a marching fell, bleeding into a softer spoken word and then erupting into a fast number preceded by a mighty scream by Alessio. Great stuff! The albums has a mostly fast pace that is maintained through the album, giving SHIHUANGDI a real sense or urgency. The individual performances are all top notch and the THY MAJESTIE race through 11songs in 50 minutes.
There is an intensity and energy on the album that is very welcome. It seems the four years off or the introduction of new members may have re-invigorated the band. SHIHUANGDI is epic, classical, symphonic Power Metal of the highest caliber.