Review Summary: You can't spell 'neo-classical' without 'classic': a masterfully crafted gem of an album.
It's hard for me to write this review without it turning into mindless gushing. Majestic is my personal favorite band, and the band that first got me interested in neo-classical metal. That said, there is good reason for this: while they released only two albums, these are amongst the most impressive albums that most people miss. Abstract Symphony, released in 1999, was the first of these albums. From start to finish, this album will keep any fan of great power metal entertained for a long time.
All elements of the band come together near-flawlessly in every track of the album. From the infectious opening track Golden Sea
, to the slow but focused ending track Seekers Battlefield
, no instrument ever feels out of place at any point. The incredible guitar-work complements Andersson's blazing keyboard very well, with memorable riffs appearing in tracks like Black Moon Rising
. The drums batter along, keeping everything tied together finely, and the vocals of Jonas Blum fit perfectly with the nature of whichever song he is singing: for faster tracks such as Crimson Sun
, his voice is soaring and energetic, while on slower tracks like the ballad Standing Alone
, it is melancholic and depressing. The bass plods along with the rest of the band, though it is clearly not the main focus.
One complaint about neo-classical metal which appears frequently is that the fast, furious guitars can get soulless at times, bordering on being robotic. This issue, however, is not present here. Whenever the guitars go into "super-shred" mode, as I like to call it, it ties in nicely with the tone of the song. Take, for example, Nitro Pitbull
. There is quite a long instrumental section, with everything but the guitar and drums dropping out completely. It sounds raw and aggressive, fitting for the song, and the moment the missing elements are re-introduced, it feels triumphant and well-timed. Andresson knew not to have Nordh's guitars go overboard, so in songs such as Ceasefire
, one of the slower tracks, the guitar work is relatively straightforward, only picking up near the ending, as the song fades out.
All in all, with highly skilled musicianship, a memorable tracklist and astounding composition, Abstract Symphony is a masterpiece of epic proportions. This album is extremely impressive, never missing a beat or being bogged down by unnecessary tracks, and never wears itself thin. If you see this anywhere, be it a bargain bin or online, buy it. You will not regret it.