Majestic - Abstract Symphony


Year of Release: 1999
Label: Massacre Records
Catalog Number:
Format: CD
Total Time: 51:52:00

This band has had the unlucky advantage of having so many labels put on them before their disc even reached our shores. With hype of "shades of Symphony X" and "the new neo-classical breed," this band had to fill some hefty expectations before most of us could even make a passing judgment on what they actually sounded like. Unfortunately for the band, it created an anti-climactic entrance to what otherwise would be a worthy acceptance into many a collection; but even with the large shoes the band had to fill, the disc seems to be an enjoyable addition to collections everywhere, although with many mixed feelings on the style of music this band plays. The biggest complaint I've read and heard from people is the "hard rock" song structures that abound on the disc, thrown in as almost filler material for the metal that everyone craves, and that the band can obviously create with ease. With that in mind, here is what I am hearing after many weeks of curling up with the disc.

THE STYLE

I've seen many a label put on this band, and strangely enough, everyone's description and label of this band always fits. From melodic hard rock, to melodic metal with neo-classical tendencies, to AOR, to hard rock with metal injections, this band incorporates at least a metal approach with hard rock song structures, complete with arena-like choruses from the 80s, to the mushy ballads that will have many reaching back into their memories of arena ballads from Journey, Whitesnake, Cinderella and many of the 80s MTV bands that had to have at least one mushy ballad to get themselves noticed by the female population and set the radio stations on fire. Interestingly enough, it's the ballads on this disc that keep me reaching for this disc and firing up tracks 3 & 6, reaching for the old air-mic, and hitting the carpeted stage in the most David Coverdale pose that I can conjure up at this ripe old age. Mixing a blend of melodic hard rock sing along tunes with some speedy neo-classical based sounds, and some crushing ballads that would make Stratovarius proud, the band appears to be reaching out to a variety of listeners, not just a select target of metal heads or AOR cultists. There is certainly something here for everyone, although true die hard metal heads might cringe at the hard rock approach and the mushy lyrics that don't pay homage to dragons and swords, but instead to deep, inner feelings of loneliness and despair. The hard rock folks will love this, as it is based firmly in their territory, and the added punch and arena filling guitar sounds will have those folks reaching for anything to pluck at in celebration of the thick sounds that come from this band. Overall, if you don't mind a blend of hard rock in your metal, or you love a metal sound in your hard rock, then chances are you will like the hell out of this disc. If you've read all about the hype of this band being the next Symphony X or Stratovarius, forget it, because there isn't anything here that vaguely resembles those bands save for the nice crunchy ballads a la Stratovarius, and maybe some Michael Romeo style guitar playing here and there, but this band has it's roots planted firmly in the 80's style rock / metal approach only played well in the 90s. You could almost say that this is the Hammerfall of melodic metal, as the band takes every musical cliché in the book and performs it very well.

THE BAND:

Peter Espinoza / Guitars
Martin Wezowski / Bass
Jonas Blum / Vocals
Joel Linder / Drums
Richard Andersson / Keyboards

These guys are out to prove that just because you can't live up to some of the hype that's been placed upon them, they can play their instruments with the best of them.......each player is more than just well schooled in their instruments as evidenced by their dips into speed metal and neo-classical rivers, and then heading back to more familiar territory.

Peter Espinoza is obviously the focal point here, and many guitarists will take some serious notes when listening to this guy play. Obviously neo-classically trained, I'd say that the passing remarks about Symphony X come from hearing Peter play, although he is not as refined and accurate as Monsieur Romeo, instead opting to go for the shredding, speedy style of playing versus the controlled approach to this style of playing. From crunching power chords to ripping solos, this is where the band gets it metal sound from, and had he had a hand in writing all of the music instead of about half, this might have been a smoking metal release.

Martin Wezowski is a competent player as well, having to keep up with Mr. Espinoza and doing a fabulous job at that. The production is little bass shy, unfortunately, and it's a bit difficult to hear exactly what type of bass lines Martin plays throughout the disc, but the fact that he is surrounded by two neo-classicalites is more than enough to convince me that he does a fine job.

Richard Andersson is the neo-classicalite in the band, sounding to me like Andre Anderssen of the band with his neo approach to keyboards. His sound also helps to give this disc a royal sound, and if Royal Hunt suddenly went totally metal, I'd have a feeling that they would sound like this. His neo-classical keys are prominent in the overall sound to the band, and I'd say that the Majestic band title is due mostly in part to the royal sounds that Richard brings to the music. It's also eerie that Richard writes what appears to be those hard rock style songs, again a la our beloved Andre Anderssen of Royal Hunt. The metal approach of the guitars and the hard rock approach of the keyboards and different writers obviously contribute to the diverse meal that this band serves up.

Joel Linder is one of those drummers you just can't help focus in on; not only because the drums are a bit up in the mix, but his style is so diverse from song to song, it's easy to hear how he changes gears easily from the speedy double bass runs to the slower, pounding ballads. You can almost feel how this guy gets into the music with each pound of the snare drum. He obviously believes in what he is doing.

THE VOCALS:

Here is where I originally had my problems, but have since left them behind and accepted the grittiness of Jonas Blum's voice in favor of his emotional and powerful deliverance. When you first hear Jonas, those of you (me included) will be inclined to make a quick judgment that he might be hard to handle all of the time, but in the end you'll probably fall to his superb power and deliverance. From an all out speed blitz, to the slowed down power ballads, this guy can certainly belt out any type of music thrown at him, and in all honesty it's in the ballads that he really shines. To hear his gritty voice finding it's way up into the upper stratosphere and not appearing to strain is an ear feast and certainly warrants admiration. You wouldn't expect a singer with this voice to soar so high but Jonas is very confident in his abilities and takes his voice to higher-than-high places with ease. The interesting aspect of his voice is his ability to make you feel the song as he sings it. His emotional outbursts if loneliness and despair will have you scratching your head wondering what he sounds like in real life at talk level - you wouldn't think a singer with this tone would or could do it, but he does it with ease and much passion. It's hard for me to pinpoint his voice to a single singer, but I imagine a cross between the old Avalon singer and the old Krokus singer from way back. Combine those two voices and you have one hell of a gritty screamer with tons of emotion.... it may sound strange at first, but when you give this disc some spins, you'll hear the voice fitting right in with the music. If you're already wishing that Fabio Leone was at the helm of this music based on my description, ( and yes, he would do well here ), put those thoughts right out of your head and worry not as Jonas is more than capable of bringing this music right into your living room.

THE PRODUCTION:

Let's face it - I always have a problem with most productions, regardless of how trivial the complaint, and with Majestic it's no different. First and foremost, the highs are way up here on the mixing board, causing a "shrill" to the sound. You'll be better off turning the treble knob to the left to hear this without feeling like you've just heard someone scraping a fork on a blackboard. Second, there is a lack of bass and punch. With the ballads, even though the drums are very prominent ( another complaint ), the bass is a bit shy and I can imagine these songs with some serious woofage but it comes up very shy in that area. My subwoofer hardly recognizes any serious signal coming in.........

The drums are way up in the mix - I love the sound of well recorded drums, but not this far up in the mix. Add in some seriously reverbed snares and listening to this disc with headphones on will make you think you're inside the Grand Canyon or some large cave. The guitars are also way up in the mix, but with the other instruments taking center stage, then the guitar needs to be heard. Whether in a crunch mode, or in a speedy, shredding solo, the guitars are very prominent in the mix and I doubt that anyone would have a problem with this as it's here that I believe gives Majestic their metal sound overall. The keyboards are the only instrument placed right in the mix. Not too forward or back, the keys were placed right where they should be and do not dominate the sound, but really enhance the rest of the sound. When called upon for short bursts of key runs, there is no problem hearing them at all.

The vocals are pretty high in the mix too, and it only stands to reason that if the other instruments are taking up some bandwidth, then the vocals should be up front as well to compensate. This allows us to hear just about every word that Jonas is singing with ease, although it's interesting to hear that he just sings along side the other instruments without the slightest signs of having to yell over them - which causes some confusion because I wonder what it would sound like with the instruments at lower levels; would it sound unnatural to hear him singing at such volumes when the other instruments were at normal levels ?

At any rate, this is more of a mixing complaint than a recording complaint, and the disc does sound real good at regular listening levels, but again, watch out for those shrill highs when cranking this baby, and you will want to crank it - just hit track #5 immediately and try to play it at normal listening levels - it can't be done.........

THE COMMENTS

I had serious doubts about the staying power of this disc at first because of the hard rock sounds found at regular intervals, and found myself wishing that they stayed within the metal boundaries rather than diversify. I also thought that Jonas' gritty approach would not sit well with my sensitive (singer) ears, but with more and more plays, his emotional deliverance got the better of me, and how he can reach those high notes with a voice tone like his amazed me and kept me coming back for more. To be honest, it's the two power ballads that really grab me by the throat, and it's where I feel this band excels. Sure they can speed it up and go balls-to-the-wall at every turn, but these two ballads really exemplify true emotion in deliverance and power, and it's a treat to hear a well done power ballad any time as far as I'm concerned.

Try to think of Majestic as the Hammerfall of melodic metal. Where Hammerfall was criticized for being a total cliché of metal, they certainly do what they do extremely well. Majestic will come under the gun as well, being criticized for being extremely clich?, but doing it very well. That's the beauty of music - as far as I'm concerned, no matter who it sounds like, as long as it's done well, count me in. Sure, I get to a certain point where I don't want to hear any more bands that sound like so-and-so, but you can't deny the band it's due credit, especially when they do it this well...... I won't jump up and down and recommend this as a must have, and if you're looking for that "different" or "unique" disc, you're going to have to wait longer, but if you're looking to check out some very good metal played with some hard rock tendencies, you will do well to look here in the Majestic camp.

No doubt, if the band decides to put out a totally metallic disc next time out, it could be a killer.........


Tracklisting:
Golden Sea (5:14) / Losers Shades Of Hell (4:48) / Standing Alone (5:19) / Silence (5:09) / Crimson Sun (4:25) / Ceasefire (5:04) / Black Moon Rising (3:39) / Blood Of The Tail (4:28) / Shadows From Beyond (3:35) / Nitro Pitbull (4:54) / Seekers Battlefield (3:36) / Abstract Symphony (1:41) (Total time: 55:18)

Japanese Version Tracklisting: Medieval Nights (3:26) Golden Sea (5:14) / Standing Alone (5:19) /Abstract Symphony (1:41) / Crimson Sun (4:25) / Ceasefire (5:04) / Black Moon Rising (3:39) / Blood Of The Tail (4:28) / Shadows From Beyond (3:35) / Nitro Pitbull (4:54) / Seekers Battlefield (3:36) / Losers Shades Of Hell (4:48) / Silence (5:09)

Musicians:
Jonas Blum - lead vocal
Richard Andersson - keyboards
Peter Espinoza - guitar
Martin Wezowski - bass
Joel Linder - drums

Discography:
Abstract Symphony (1999)
Trinity Overature (2000)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin SE

Added: September 1st 1999
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Artist website: www.anderssonmusic.com
Hits: 964
Language: english

  

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