(Professor D. Grover the XIIIth returns to NCS with the following review of the debut album by Majesties, which is set for a March 3rd release by 20 Buck Spin.)
Greetings and salutations, friends. It is well-established canon at this point that your friendly neighborhood professor is a great fan of Tanner Anderson and his work in Obsequiae. Aria Of Vernal Tombs stood easily as my favorite black metal album and I was skeptical that anything could equal it, and honestly nothing did until Obsequiae‘s follow-up, The Palms Of Sorrowed Kings. Asked now, and I swear to you that I could not choose a favorite between the two, as they are both absolutely brilliant.
I tell you this because when I heard first of Majesties, I grew excited nearly to the point of arousal. Driven by my initial impression of the first track released, ‘The World Unseen‘, it seemed that Majesties was essentially Tanner Anderson and friends performing Lunar Strain-era In Flames-style melodeath, an impression bolstered by the release of a second track, ‘In Yearning, Alive‘. My friends, let me tell you, that seemed like a perfect combination, like the genius who first combined chocolate and peanut butter. And then I got to hear the entire album.
As it turns out, my expectations were not entirely accurate. Although there are many similarities and homages to the aforementioned In Flames albums, as well as other early Göteborg melodeath like Dark Tranquillity and At The Gates, Majesties is more than that. Owing undoubtedly to Anderson‘s black metal roots as well as those of his Majesties co-conspirators Matthew Kirkwold and Carl Skildum, both of Minneapolis-area melodic black metal band Inexorum as well as Obsequiae‘s live band, Majesties splashes their melodeath with a melodic black metal flair that occasionally calls to mind Unanimated‘s Ancient God Of Evil and Dawn‘s Slaughtersun (Crown Of The Triarchy).
It’s also extremely easy to hear elements of both Obsequiae and Inexorum in many of the tracks here. ‘Sidereal Spire’ and ‘Journey’s End’ especially sound a great deal like Obsequiae, to the point that if I had been told these were new Obsequiae tracks I would believe them without question. And that’s a good thing! I love Obsequiae, and this is the next best thing. Still, there are differences in how the riffs and leads on Vast Reaches Unclaimed are framed, and that’s when the early melodeath influence is clearest. More importantly, it helps to illustrate the effect that albums like Lunar Strain and The Gallery had on these artists in their other projects. Majesties certainly gave me a new perspective on the Obsequiae albums that I know and love, viewed through the lens of that early melodeath influence.
Vast Reaches Unclaimed is, at its heart, a love letter to a highly influential style of music that really doesn’t get played much any more. All the bands that innovated this particular type of melodic death metal, like In Flames and Dark Tranquillity, have evolved their sound over the years, and while these albums influenced an entire generation of bands, those bands generally used the sound as more of a starting point. Majesties have captured the core of that sound better than any album I’ve heard in a long, long time, with the artistry inherent to their main projects, and the resulting music is excellent.
I think it’s fair to say that this might be the first real album of the year contender for me, and it should help to tide me over until the next Obsequiae album. If you enjoy Obsequiae or classic melodeath, you need to hear this.