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Black Majesty - Cross Of Thorns

Label: Pride & Joy Music
Format: CD download
Released: 2015
Reviewed By: Mark Gromen
Rating: 7/ 10


The shriek of the titular ‘Phoenix’ and speeding neo-classical guitars immediately jump from the speakers. The Aussie power metallers return with their sixth studio album. High pitched vocals, speedy guitars and double bass drums are the rule of the land (down under). These days they inhabit a stylized musical landscape that's somewhere between Stratovarius and (in the few reserved moments) Kamelot, although 'Anneliese', wanders into King Diamond territory, both in terms of falsetto and especially haunting subject matter.

 

A heavier guitar tone greets 'Vlad The Impaler', although the dog whistle voice cuts through everything else. Another change in dynamics, 'Crossroads' begins with acoustic tinged pre-chorus with lyrics "the calm before the storm." Eventually, they let loose, full band kicks in, albeit at a less frenetic pace than what has preceded it. A cover tune, another faithful rendition of Gary Moore's 'Out In The Fields' closes the first half of the ten tracks. 'Misery' sees a return of the fleet-fingered guitars that sound like someone violently trying to saw a violin in half, with the bow. The vocals are sung in a lower/normal register.

The "welcome back to reality" refrain in 'Make Believe' has an unintended comical side-effect, in reference to the suddenly restrained singer. 'One Life' ratchets up the tempo and register again, follow-up 'Emptiness Ideal', even more. 'Escape' closes the disc in much the way it began, a flurry of notes and battered drums teetering on the edge of submission. Had not physical isolation precluded them from more tours/festival appearances, Black Majesty should have been able to ride the power metal wave to new heights, but now, with tidal wave and global interest subsiding, fear they're resigned to simply being "Australia's Best Known Power Metal Band".

 
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