In Your Honour
14 May 2010
by Tom Dare
Power metal is not having the best of years. The new Sabaton is fair but virtually indistinguishable from the previous four albums, Rhapsody Of Fire’s latest is fine but less than what they are capable of and Avantasia released a double album that was a soporific slab of boredom of biblical proportions. In the hour of need, into the breach steps a hero from the unlikeliest of places. From Australia come Black Majesty, bringing with them In Your Honour, a record better than many of their more famous peers.
Immediately reminiscent of the heyday of Helloween, ‘Far Beyond’ races out of the traps with all of the verve and zest that records like this thrive on. Blending the classic technique of light-speed strumming and slow chord changes with some of the riffs that has become the norm with modern bands such as Firewind, Black Majesty do nothing particularly new, but instead do things well.
Singer John Cavaliere clearly possesses a phenomenal melodic range and varies his delivery, reminding the listener of James Hetfield in the baritone register, Roy Khan in the tenor range and the soaring upper register hints at Michael Kiske. His hooks are big, albeit not anthemically so, and there are plenty of strong songs that you can quickly find yourself humming along to. The guitar solos – which can frequently be the difference between a record you will still be spinning in a year and one which will be on eBay in a month- are absolutely smoking. They are fast without entering the territory of Dragonforce, and fitting in musically with what has come before. While many power metal guitarists get drawn into neo-classical fret-wanking, Hanny Mohamed and Steve Janevski stick to the principle that someone who likes music like this probably wants guitar solos they can play air guitar to, and the results are far more memorable and effective.
Black Majesty have put in a fine collection of songs where all the elements blend together well, and where the pace varies enough to keep you interested throughout a consistently strong record. The uplifting, heroic numbers such as ‘Far Beyond’ are complimented by slower, more Edguy-esque tracks like ‘Break These Chains’ and the defiant march of ‘Follow’. In a style that can easily become repetitive, In Your Honour has a sufficient variety of tricks to avoid this pitfall and make further listens more likely.
While this is one of the stronger power metal record this year, what they have not done is written enough anthemic, start-to-finish sing-a-long tunes to propel them into the upper echelons. You can imagine them supporting Gamma Ray, but there is quite a big step between that and anything more.
Watch a “trailer” to In Your Honour by Black Majesty:
In Your Honour is an enjoyable record, and if you have already spun Lustdriven to death, this may fill a gap. However rather than genuinely satisfying, it merely whets the appetite for what may be coming later this year. A strong album, but with releases from Blind Guardian, Stratovarius and several other big names expected later this year, Black Majesty may well find themselves forgotten by all but the most devoted power metal fans within a few months.
Sounds like: Helloween, Nocturnal Rites
Top tracks: Far Beyond, Millenium, Follow
Black Majesty- In Your Honour tracklisting:
God Of War
Break These Chains
Further Than Insane
End Of Time
Wish You Well