Thy Majestie – The Lasting Power – 4.5/5
Separate from European Power Metal, the Italians – led by ‘Rhapsody (of Fire)’ – have emerged with their own distinct style of Symphonic Power. Often with fantasy inspired lyrics, medieval-folk tones and a light ‘flowery’ tone, this is an artist that have clearly drawn strong influences from those before them, but have overcome one of their major shortcomings; the overuse of keyboards. Often you will find the guitars become lost in the lavish keyboards, used to create an ‘epic’ tone it lacks a sense of versatility. This debut features a guest choir on many tracks, and is not shy from plenty of shorter instrumental tracks, serving as a wonderful introduction to the lighter side of the genre.
Perhaps the largest commendation should go to the keyboards, proving the old belief that they can lend multiple layers to a piece; varying from the more traditional affair backing to piano, flutes, violins and a number of other instruments, they often provide riffs rather than simplistic chords. Despite a hefty prominence, due to their versatility it never feels overused, capable of holding the rhythm alone. It is nonetheless accompanied by guitars – both acoustic and electric – aptly performing majestic riffs and solos, played with an emotional focus over a neo-classical one. Both the drums are bass are solemnly heard, but oddly in this rich tapestry of layers created rarely feel missed.
It is perhaps the use of the Massimo Theatre choir that distinguishes this from those who rely on keyboards for their backing, for whilst it results in an earthier, almost ‘folk-like’ tone at times, it also lends a unique element, a broader spectrum of pitch to enrich the backing rhythm as well as allowing the keyboards to perform their own riffs, frequently harmonising with the guitar work. The lead vocalist, too, has a unique sense of emotion about him; largely staying within the upper register he performs a delicate and soft melody to accompany the tracks, perhaps at times only lacking a certain power.
Whereas ‘Rhapsody (of Fire)’ overloads you with thick keyboard work to provide an epic tone, working in a bombastic manner, this album embraces the gentler side and provides something far more emotional and majestic. With a stronger emphasis on riffs over chords, and plenty of variety in short instrumental passages (often with narration) it feels like a story being told rather than a mere collection of tracks with a similar theme flowing into each other in a seamless fashion. This is the Italian response to Blind Guardian’s “Nightfall in Middle Earth,” taking their riff theory and incorporating Rhapsody’s orchestral arrangements, producing something more than equal to them both. What you find here may not be the most original, and is certainly not the most aggressive the genre has to offer, but is simple lightly toned power metal written to near perfection.
Highlights: March of the Damned, Under Siege, Mistry of the Forest, Sword of Justice