Black Majesty – Stargazer
Most fans of melodic metal have realized by now that Australia, along with Canada and Finland, holds dozens of strikingly talented artists for those who are willing to delve in and discover them. For a few years, Black Majesty has been one of the few better-known power metal acts from a country that largely isn’t thought of as being particular productive concerning such things (it’s a shame that Dungeon/Lord isn’t better reknowned, but that’s a story for another time, and from another writer). This reputation was founded upon their ability to continuously produce very solid (if a bit routine) power metal through four albums. Now, the Melbourne-based quartet have rolled out their much-anticipated new release, Stargazer, once again through Limb Music.
Right, well, I can tell right away that not much has changed here. John Cavaliere’s vocals sound the same as ever, but the band has grown steadily more adept at meshing them better with more active guitar. You can notice this tendency on many songs here: especially in comparison to early albums like Sands Of Time and Silent Company, the guitar leads are more often and more actively overlapping Cavaliere’s voice, rather than being mutually exclusive. Overall, the guitars are much brighter and more explosive than they have been on previous releases.
Bright and explosive, yes indeed, that’s just how I’d describe opener “Falling”. In fact, I can safely say that it may well be my favorite Black Majesty opener (and indeed, one of their finest tracks period) to date. Unfortunately, I feel that “Lost Highway” and “Voice Of Change” taper off in quality after the dynamite opener, being a bit more redundant and lacking the pure energy necessary to really propel the band’s formulaic songwriting forwards. However, the boys bounce back with “The Killing Hand”, another stand-up power metal ripper. A bit later, a more mid-paced stroll through the “Symphony Of Death” sees Black Majesty borrowing some tricks from Europeans like Edguy and HammerFall during the verse and chorus. While this might not seem terribly exciting, it features a great guitar solo and some more dynamic playing that sets it aside from much of the rest of the album.
Aside from this one-on, two-off tendency of their more surprising and fulfilling tracks (at least until closer “Shine”, a completely unnecessary ballad that really leaves the listener underwhelmed at the end), Stargazer is a pretty respectable package on the whole. I’ve never jumped up and down overly much about Black Majesty’s work, but there’s easily enough to keep any power metal listener entertained here. With three exceptional tracks, six decent to pretty good ones, and one dud, this is another unspectacular but very capable release for the band’s record books.
Dan’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5