Review Summary: A power metal album
Exit reality, enter Black Majesty. Emerging from the vast sea of power metal bands to grace my speakers today is a seasoned power metal band from Australia here to do battle on the international scene. In Your Honour is their forth full-length album and comes well-anticipated by die-hard power metal fans as a promising release for 2010. Black Majesty have a fairly standard setup with a powerful and talented lead singer, a powerhouse drummer, dual-guitars, and a competent and skillful bass and keyboard combination to fill the melodic air between the aforementioned instruments. Tone and production are good at first glance and all of these musicians sound polished and practiced, obviously veterans in music. My hopes are high.
The album opens powerfully with an ominous lead guitar lick that quickly evolves into a blaze of guitar and thunderous drums. The guitar leads aren't particularly fast or innovative but they sound pleasant and are in good taste. The singer eventually comes in and it sounds like a typical power metal song. The verses and choruses are typical of the genre; their problem is that they are far too typical. The singer conveys pure, powerful, and aurally pleasing melodies that can hardly be considered to be original but are delivered in a convincing and commanding manner. The lead guitarist demonstrates his chops with a screaming guitar solo that turns into a clean bridge with a more evident role of the keyboards and a greater demonstration of the singer's voice without blasting drums and heavy guitars. The song ends with the chorus and I'm left bemused at such a generic and unambiguous power metal song coming from a band that has been together for years. There wasn't anything here to exalt Black Majesty from any other power metal band that can put together a coherent and convincing song. The next few songs are similar as well, with plain and uninventive vocal melodies, a passive role of the keyboards and barely audible bass for the most part. Fast and skillful but artistically safe guitar leads and solos do little to elate the listener but also little to discourage further listening. To the drummer's credit, the drumming sounds exquisite and almost hypnotizing at times but there is a fine line between hypnosis and sleep.
Break The Chains is the first song on the album that shows a creative spark with the incorporation of acoustic guitars and less straightforward delivery. But the album's problems remain and the listener will be seriously left wanting for any musical ideas that aren't derivative of better power metal bands of the last twenty years. The next song, Further Than Insane, is somewhat more interesting with some slick bass licks, more creative use of vocals, and a clean bridge followed by a solo that is good but falls short of the purported insanity. All of this happens within the usual high-tempo high-intensity and polished delivery of the band and at this point I doubt that anybody is going to want to listen to this album on repeat for hours on end. It still isn't particularly interesting and doesn't exhibit the kind of uniquity that we see in the stars of the genre. The rest of the album is somewhat better than the first half with beautiful and furious songs like End Of Time, Follow and my favorite on the album, Wish You Well. These songs are ear-candy but my earlier criticisms can be applied to them; there simply isn't enough of a distinguishing factor to this music that would warrant serious fandom in my opinion. That being said it's difficult to flat-out dislike them. These songs could use variance in tempo and style, and could use a more inventive presentation, but for listeners looking for standard power metal cheese done deftly, they're more than adequate.
I want to love Black Majesty and I did enjoy various songs on In Your Honour but the whole thing falls flat on the creative front. To their credit, Black Majesty deliver the essential power metal goods of great-sounding vocals and instrumentation with powerful pulsing percussion and they sound like professionals. This album didn't entice or enthrall me but neither was it worth cringes or enmity.