Supreme Majesty - Tales of a tragic kingdom 3/5

Reviewed: 3-8-02





Tracklist:

1. Strike like thunder
2. Not of this world
3. Towards the northern star
4. Forever I'll be
5. Let it go
6. Tales of a tragic kingdom
7. Queen of Egypt
8. Keeper of the dead
9. Supreme majesty
10. Eye of the storm


This Swedish band's EP that was released a year before this full-length debut was pretty impressive as a very polished, melodic and tight power metal affair. This full-length follow-up is more of the same, power metal in the vein of a sharp, gleaming crystal sword that goes down smoothly and still has a lot of strength. To me, this is a stunning example of the well done European power metal style. When I first heard it, I thought it was good and unoriginal, and yet, although I said that it's not original, it really stands out from so much of the stuff that I hear in this vein these days that it's not quite fair to say that, especially the way they do weave different elements together, none of which are really original, but all together it sounds rather distinctive in today's market. Most importantly, they do it well, it all melds together into something you simply want to hear over and over.

As noted, there are elements of stuff like Sonata Artica, Kamelot, Nocturnal Rites, and Europe. That's an interesting combination, that they make work very well. Now, what's really freaking bizarre, as if anything, this band is on the ultra-melodic (or over melodic and too mellow, depending on your views) spectrum of the power metal sound, is that apparently a number of the members used to be in a "melodic death metal" band named "Mortum"?!?!

"Strike like thunder" starts out with sweet keyboard strains that are almost reminiscent of Europe, before picking up more power...This song has tremendous melodic strains, while still being uptempo, it's a bit mellower than you might expect, like something of Saxon's 'Destiny', with common but still beloved lyrics of heading off to Nordic war...

"LET THE HORNS BLOW
BID FAREWELL TO YOUR LOVE
WE CALL UPON THOR
FROM HIS MOUNTAIN ABOVE
RIDE WHEN THE MIST CLEARS
AT BREAKING OF DAWN
RIDE TO INVADE, TO ENGAGE
TO STRIKE LIKE THUNDER, THUNDER.... THUNDER..."

Great song, I really love this! Although I can imagine it being a bit light for some in its style. "Not of this world" picks up the power and speed more like what we'd expect from Sonata Artica, Stratovarius, that style of music, still exquisitely melodic, but with some more punch. The great chorus reminds me somewhat of Kamelot's "Millenium". The lyrics seem to deal with some sort of phantom trapped on earth, in a very cool manner, awesome!! "Towards the north star" is a beautiful medieval romance, but the song itself has a lot of power, and again, just incredible melodies. "Forever I'll be" is a bit more of a typical ballad, lyrically and musically, so some may really not like this, but it's at least well done in this style, with the kind of sweet chorus that could have been very successful in 80s hard rock land. "Let it Go" gets back to some more power, although has an interesting style, reminiscent of TNT's work on 'Realized fantasies'. "Queen of Egypt" gets back to a more exciting lyrical subject, ushered in with middle eastern sounding pipes dancing in the background, before cutting into some serious guitar riffs and power in the Egyptian motif, before speeding things up. This is a great song! So is its successor, "Keeper of the dead", another great, memorable chorus. "Supreme majesty" starts out very reminiscent of a Royal Hunt song, and come to think of it, that's another element you hear woven with the other influences on this CD, but it has more direct metal songwriting than most of Royal Hunt. This song is pure, majestic, glorious fantasy:

"THE BLOOD THAT STAINS MY SWORD
BEARS MARK I AM YOUR LORD
BEFORE LEAVES FALL TO GROUND
THROUGH POWER I WILL WEAR THE CROWN "

"Eye of the storm" is a bit mellower, reminiscent and comparable a bit to Sonata Arctica's "Letter to Dana". This closes out the CD, which is succinct at under 45 minutes.

The vocals are great, very strong, but just incredibly precise and perfect in what they do, no straining, no cracking, etc. They do remind me somewhat of the recent (and BEST!) Nocturnal Rites 'Shadowland' CD. If anything, it's got such a polished, melodic production and feeling that some might find it just a bit too unaggressive...But then again, it's got so much uptempo power and feeling to it, that I can't see being too disappointed. I personally think this is fantastic, enjoyable from start to finish, and think that those that really worship pure European power stuff with keys (not as much in the vein of their nationmates Hammerfall and other more "true metal" bands) like Sonata Artica and Stratovarius will find this another essential purchase, because it's so magnificently done, and the combination of styles is both effective and relatively original (man, when you read a lot of the band members praising Royal Hunt and Europe, and someone else going ape over Morbid Angel and Slayer, you know it's going to be somewhat interesting). It also has a lot in common with the brilliantly woven melodies of Kamelot, so those that love them should also give this a try.



CRAIG




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