Review Summary: Looking to the past while reaching towards the future.
With any discussions regarding melodeath, mentions of the genre's frontrunners in its heyday are bound to be brought up at least once, and for good reason. In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, At the Gates, all of these bands have left their mark on the genre and formed it into what it is today, with classic albums like The Jester Race
, Slaughter of the Soul
and The Gallery
standing the test of time as pinnacles of the genre's golden age. Of course, that isn't to say there hasn't been newer bands keeping the Gothenburg sound alive. For that, look no further than Majesties' impressive debut Vast Reaches Unclaimed
Right away with the opener "In Yearning, Alive" we're introduced to riffs and guitar leads that could have very well been lifted from Jester
-era In Flames. The harmonies are impeccable, the vocals have edge, being more reminiscent of Tomas Lindberg of At the Gates' vocals than Anders Friden's, and the solos make it all the much sweeter; all of these elements together make for quite a first impression to start things off. The production on Vast Reaches Unclaimed
is also top notch. There's a good balance of polish and rawness where one isn't completely overbearing over the other; it evens out quite nicely and lends an advantage to the album's atmosphere. "Verdant Paths to Radiance" is another early highlight, with its Gothenburg influence making for another great showing that could rival even some of the genre's greatest. And if that wasn't enough, right after that comes "Across the Neverwhen" which also introduces a short acoustic passage towards the middle.
There's also a touch of melancholy here, with "Sidereal Spire" in particular opting for a more somber atmosphere. Towards the end the instruments start to dial back a bit before building back up again and resuming their sonic assault. This here makes for a nice change of pace and offers a welcoming refresher for the latter half of the album. And through all of this we eventually come to the aptly titled "Journey's End", a hefty helping of fast riffs, blast beats, intense vocals, alternating tempos... all before it comes to a close with an acoustic outro to finish the album off, and it's a stellar end to the album that couldn't have been done better.
Overall, Majesties' Vast Reaches Unclaimed
has plenty to enjoy for the melodeath fanatic. Those that have been disappointed with recent outputs of some of the genre's classic acts should consider giving this a try. Who knows yet if it ends up becoming a future classic, but with an album that owes much to the past while also crafting a lasting experience that'll surely stand for years to come, it certainly has a good shot of becoming one.