Majesty - Hellforces 3/5

Reviewed: 3-31-06





Tracklist:

1. The blessing
2. Hellforces
3. Dance with the demon
4. Sons of a new millenium
5. Heavy metal desire
6. March for victory
7. Like a raptor
8. Guardians of the dragon grail
9. Freedom heart
10. Fight forever
11. Nowhere man
12. Metal law 2006


My first impression of this recent CD by the true/traditional metal Germans was that it was somewhat similar to Dream Evil's latest output, 'The book of heavy metal', and accordingly, so straightforward and repetitive that it was adequate, but somewhat tepid and bland, and not terribly inspiring. Except, in this case, for one magnificent song. However, after repeated listens, while that objective description hasn't changed too much, the simple leanings of the CD at least grew on me, and left it a pretty enjoyable listen, despite all of those limitations.

Despite the sticker that came on the digipack, this is not in fact the band's 3rd CD, but their 4th full-length CD. Their 2nd CD, 'Sword & sorcery', which was the first I heard, reminded me of a blend of Hammerfall and Manowar, and remains their best overall CD, with the magnificent anthem "Fields of war" being the high point. Their 3rd CD, 'Reign in glory' started to sound even simpler, and, frankly, featured too many songs about how metal they were. (Don't get me wrong, I love metal in its purest form with all my heart, but metal bands have always been best playing metal, rather than singing about playing metal, especially when a CD features song after song in that vein.)

This latest CD continues in that mildly unfortunate trend, but, despite some metal banality, still manages to entertain throughout after a few listens. Starting with the best the CD has to offer, however, "Guardians of the dragon grail" is a flat out masterpiece, head and shoulders above anything else the CD has to offer, featuring a magnificent song somewhat in the vein of the very best Rhapsody, with a more stripped down feeling, an incredibly glorious and compelling melody, driving speed, and, with some relatively straightforward fantasy themes, the best lyrics by far on the CD. It's hard to recommend a CD based on one song, but, given the rest of the CD is quite listenable and this song is so good, it's tempting.

However, most of the rest of the CD is just fairly standard stuff. Blend the least exciting Hammerfall and Manowar material you've heard, and that's a fair description of the most of the rest of the CD. The mid-tempo stuff, like "Dance with the demon" and "Fight forever" is somewhat tedious and certainly extremely uninspired the first listen or 2, probably the low points of the CD. But I've certainly heard worse, while some other choruses at least stand out with some better quality like "Sons of a new millennium" and a cool power metal ballad in "Freedom heart", that, without inspiring your mind and soul that much, do get your metal fist banging a bit. Udo the man does some guest vocals on "Metal law 2006", a remake from their first CD.

The vocals of Tarek Maghary do a pretty solid job, but frankly they don't even feel quite as strong as they did on the prior 2 CDs, having a slightly rougher feeling, especially on the verses. The vocals of Eric Adams, by contrast, are so good they can do a better job of lifting up standard material. It should be noted that Tarek's Dawnrider project, both musically and lyrically, is a much more compelling listen. Rolf Munke and Björn Daigger, as the Scorpions style lead and rhythm guitarists, respectively, do the job, but most of the lead work, like a lot of the rest of the CD is neither particularly interesting nor impressive, but reminds me more of old Twisted Sister solos and such. Bassist Marcus Bielenberg and drummer Michael Gräter generally do an acceptable job, but without much opportunity to shine. The production, unfortunately, is rather thin and unimpressive, especially with the drum sound, and, given that the material itself is not that much of a standout, you figure at least they should have a clean and solid production.

Now, with all that criticism, this is still a CD a lot of metal fans could enjoy, including myself, but only if reading the above description you think you'd still enjoy it. If you're looking for the best of the true metal genre, this is definitely not up with material such as Wizard's 'Odin' or Manowar's more classic material. That being said, the "Guardians of the dragon grail" song is flat out magnificent, so if you find yourself swayed by one magnificent track over a bunch of listenable but standard stuff, then this may be worth the purchase. Without that song, the score for this CD definitely would drop at least half a point, perhaps a whole.



CRAIG




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