Since ABOVE THE SKY was my #1 pick for 2109 I suppose I should review it and explain why!
Well, the reason I like it so much is that Majestica is basically the band Reinxeed with a new name. Regular readers of my reviews may recognize that I have championed the Swedish Speed Metal sensation for a decade. I love that band. The news is not exactly official but the word on the mean streets is that there was bit of a contractual dispute between Reinxeed and their label. This is nothing new. So to escape, the band have renamed themselves Majestica! It worked because the band is now signed with titans Nuclear Blast . This can only benefit the band, because, in the past it was expensive to import Reinxeed albums. Now the Majestica album is everywhere due to Nuclear Blasts superior distribution. I actually went to my local record store to buy my hard copy of ABOVE THE SKY. An additional benefit is that with wider distro, more people will discover that Majestica was Reinxeed and accordingly help the band overall.
As I mentioned in my year-in-review blurb, I’m not thrilled with the band name, there are already a number of other bands with the same name and it is way to close to another Swedish Speed Metal band, Majestic and the well-known German Power Metal band, Majesty. However the name is legitimate because the name of the third Reinxeed album from 2003 is called MAJESTIC so they have a good claim to the name. All of that combined with Tommy Johansson’s newfound exposure in Sabaton means that Majestica are well positioned to be one of the bigger bands of this style today.
However, all the back-story and trivia will not help a band unless they continue to produce quality material and the ninth Reinxeed album, I mean the debut Majestica album, is absolutely phenomenal. Tommy’s voice is clear, so high, so powerful and so distinct it really shines on this album. Of course the album is full-on raging double-kick that goes for miles at full speed courtesy of guest drummer Uli Kusch. Layers of keyboards laced with blazing guitars all surge along relentlessly barely giving us time to catch our breath. Tommy knows his Helloween and there are a few little lyrical and musical hints across this album paying homage to the masters. All the choruses are very memorable and catchy to a fault. Now add in some layers of orchestral sounds, for examples the horns on the opening title, and you have a Power Metal tour-de-force. The whole album is like this!
On top of this the albums comes with a couple of bonus tracks, a copy of the bands very first song ‘Future Land’ from their first demo way back in 2002. There is an updated version on the album as well. What would a good Power Metal album without a bit of as joke cover tune? In this case Majestica cover the them song to the 1987 comedy film, Spaceballs, starring Mel Brooks. As with most of these novelty covers, it is not essential but really fun. Another great fun track is ‘Father Time’, one of the best Metal Christmas songs I’ve ever heard since Theocracy put out ‘Frosty vs. Rudolph’ back in 2008. It’s hilarious and they even call it a ‘stupid song’ in the lyrics which are about The Sandman having an affair with Mrs. Time and then Father time walks in, kills the Sandman right when Santa comes down the chimney! Now Father Time has to ‘dispose’ of the witness too (and his reindeer) and then it gets even weirder!
All of these elements, the speed, the power, the individual performances, the voice of Tommy, the orchestration and the sense of humour, all combined in one perfect package to make this my #1 of 2019.