Majestica - Above The Sky - (9.5/10)
Published on June 1, 2019
Father Time had to kill Santa and his reindeer.
Now this is what my heart had been waiting for in 2019! I’m not claiming this year to be lacking in decent melodic power metal. Hell, new releases from the likes of Skeletoon, Bloodbound, Beast In Black and Avantasia have all hit the mark in one way or another. But something about the do-over of Tommy Johansson’s brainchild, ReinXeed, just rubs me up the right way. Paying homage to his own 2010 album Majestic, Tommy gave the project an external makeover and rebranded it as Majestica – a more-than-suitable name for an act of this sub-genre. All the building blocks are there, schismless, setting the stage for Johansson to make a celebratory and triumphant return to the fold. Above The Sky does this in style – encapsulating everything we love about European power metal, but topping it off with his own quirky personal flair.
If there ever was a declamatory affirmation of triumph in one’s chosen field – it must be the stunning title-track “Above The Sky”; The perfect cut with which to open the album, it utterly explodes out of the speakers with oodles of magic, vibrancy and splendour. Galloping euro-power velocity, bass solos, layers of cheesy keyboards, Tommy’s soaring vocals, an extended middle section… it sums up everything good about the record in a concise 5-minute package. Not to mention this might be the best chorus of 2019. When I first heard that glorious refrain, I nearly crashed my car, such was my delighted physical response. Absolutely stunning. Luckily, the follow-up track, “Rising Tide”, does just the right thing in dropping the tempo slightly but keeping the energy up. Another brilliant chorus, showcasing Tommy’s songwriting ability, and another magnificent solo section. Even after the more concise and synth-laden “The Rat Pack”, with its odd chord sequences, the momentum and joy are sustained.
Track 4, “Mötley True”, is where the one true dip on ATS lies. Even though Majestica manage to make self-aware lyrics and humour work quite well (just wait til we cover “Father Time”!), the joke in its title doesn’t really seem to land. It also doesn’t need to be over 8 minutes as the tempo is slightly lumbering compared to the rest of the record. Not a bad track by any means, but a considerable step down from the other cuts here. Luckily, “The Way To Redemption” ramps the urgency and pace back up to full-tilt and boasts brilliant keyboard layering and shred-tastic solos. Majestica channel their inner Beast In Black on the hugely 80s-inspired “Night Call Girl”. This track is so much fun and not for metalheads who can’t smile. “Future Land” may have a derivative opening section with sparkly sugary sweet melodies, but it quickly develops into a pleasing Helloween-esque anthem. Then “The Legend” makes the most of its blaring, shamelessly cheesy synth and head-nodding vibe – which subdues the atmosphere just enough to lull the listener into a false sense of security, before…
…”Father Time” knocks you on your ass. Oh my god, what even is this track?! It’s a rocketing microcosm of majestic power metal refrains, hilarious lyrics and quirky set-pieces. There’s some bullshit about Santa and his reindeer; a bizarre ode to new year’s eve; pseudo-narration; the weirdest ending to a song since Annihilator’s “Hunter Killer”… and the can-can. I think I lost it at the can-can section. If you hear one song this year, make it this one. The album’s finale, “Alliance Forever”, is also not to be sniffed at – though it revolves primarily around its amazing chorus. Fading out on this soaring refrain was definitely the right choice. Above The Sky is not a boundary-breaker, but it’s a re-establishing of a much-loved name in the power metal community. For anyone tiring of ReinXeed’s output (heathens!), the fresh-out-the-box Majestica have arrived to rekindle the fire of enthusiasm for happy, angelic, melodic power metal in the vein of Freedom Call or Power Quest. Thank you Nuclear Blast, thank you Majestica, and thank you Tommy Johansson – this is exactly what I needed at this point in time.