Ever since Dario Grillo left THY MAJESTIE, the band seems to have been somewhat in turmoil behind the microphone, because after he left in 2003, the Italians had Gabriele Grilli, Giulio Di Gregorio (he sang on “Jeanne d’Arc” and left a very good impression with me) and for a brief time again Dario Grillo, before arriving at Dario Cascio for the release of their latest effort “Dawn”, their fourth album to date. In the past the Sicilians had often been put down as “RHAPSODY light”, as they sail on the symphonic side of Power Metal, but never ventured as far into the Hollywood-like bombast of the Turillis and Staropolis, so would THY MAJESTIE continue down the tried and tested path of before?
Overall I can say yes, but at the same time no, as the numerous line-up changes have led to a certain re-alignment within their sound. What strikes from the opener “As You Fall” on is that the keyboards seem to have taken on a more progressive touch, as they are used in more solos, and obviously Dario Cascio’s voice, which is good, but doesn’t quite have the range that Di Gregorio had been able to provide on the previous effort. What had been the main strength of the Italians in the past had been their knack for variable, but ultimately catchy song writing and this time around the catchiness is not as obvious, as they have somewhat scaled down the bombastic/atmospheric elements to embrace a more progressive direction, which may or may not work for them, especially as they had been able to master the symphonic Power Metal so well in the past, but I can understand that as a band they do not want to stand still, maybe the departure of founding member Giuseppe Bondi might have played a role in this.
Certainly the dramatic note that swings in “The Hunt” is outstanding, but will still need some getting used to, if you are familiar with the older material, even though the song is one of the connecting links between the “old and new” THY MAJESTIE. Now “The Legacy Suite” is definitely something that I have to mention, five parts resulting in an overall playing time of 15 and a half minutes and here the Italians draw all registers, with epic choirs, progressive structures as well as sweeping Power Metal, while maintaining good dynamics and flow, once more proving that the guys definitely know how to write good songs, no matter which style they emphasize at a given time. But if you are a fan of old, do not fret, they have not fully forsaken the days of yore, like the double-bass-driven “Out The Edge” proves, sweeping out of the speakers (or headphones, your choice). And the melodies and atmosphere of a “Through Heat And Fire” are something to be beheld, actually reminding me a little of KAMELOT here and there (who also went more progressive as time went), if you count out the slightly decoded vocals in the chorus, which almost ruin the song, because they remind me more of Cher than a Metal band, an absolutely unnecessary move.
So at first it might take a few spins to get used to the slightly adjusted orientation of THY MAJESTIE’s new material, but once you “come to terms” with the light shift towards a more progressive sound, the quality of “Dawn” will shine through, so in some ways you can almost use the album as a metaphor for this album, as it kind of resembles a sunrise (with a few clouds in between, but nevertheless). Not my favourite effort by the Palermo-based band, but a strong album nonetheless.
(Online December 9, 2008)