ShiHuangDi the new album from Italian veteran power metallers Thy Majestie, is one you have to feel let alone hear to appreciate its expansive presence and depths, so that means bringing it close to the senses and at full volume. To be honest that applies to all metal and rock music but with ShiHuangDi it really does open up the grandeur of the creativity and release. It is still an album which depending on your preference to the genre will satisfy in varying degrees but the quality and craft involved is unmistakable and impressive.
The fifth album from Thy Majestie is a concept album based on the life of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of a unified China in 221 BC. It is a towering presence of epic atmospheres and enveloping ambiences brought with a symphonic breath to the trademark giant power metal sound of the band. Following on from 2009 album Dawn, the eleven tracks continue in the style of previous acclaimed releases The Lasting Power (2000) and Hastings 1066 (2002). Since being formed in 1998 by Guiseppe Bondi (keyboards) and Claudio Diprima (drums) the band has lit up the genre with attention catching and impressively created releases and though ShiHuangDi may not arguably improve upon earlier albums it is easily on a par and delivers all the things which make the Palermo quintet so compulsive to so many. No one can deny the quality of the songwriting, music, and musicianship of the band with the current line-up of Diprima, guitarist Simone Campione, bassist Dario D’alessandro, Giuseppe Carrubba on keys, and newest member vocalist Alessio Taormina, continuing their renowned and now expected strength.
Released through Scarlet Records, ShiHuangDi opens with the stunning atmospheric instrumental Zhoongguo, a piece of music which wraps slowly around the senses and thoughts, its brewing soundscape a dramatic and enveloping emergence of vast emotions and ever expanding depths. If someone is still not ready to be taken on the epic journey of wonderfully realised old worlds after this track then nothing could draw them in, such its irresistible power and inciteful aural imagery.
The following Seven Reigns takes over to immediate addictive effect, its artillery driven riffs and warm weaves of keys the awakening to further attentive appetites. With orchestral surges to ignite the senses further as well as sky blistering vocals of the highest quality from Taormina and the combined operatic/symphonic harmonies alongside, the track rampages through the ear with precise power and giving thought. The guitar of Campione is masterful and that is underplaying his presence, whilst the rhythm of the song is a riotous ribcage to the song without ever over powering the invention within.
The mouth watering quality continues with more onslaughts of feisty beauty within Harbringer Of A New Dawn and the excellent Siblings of Tian. Both bruise with sheer muscle brought alongside care and welcoming heated arms of sonic mastery. The vocals soar higher across the skies of the songs with a blistering breath to match the burning solos with the keys bringing a melodic salve to the welcome smouldering left in their immense wake. The second of the pair also offers a wonderful jazz/folk whispering throughout its field of expressive sounds which only deepens the pleasure.
It has to be said on the surface some songs have a similar presence which only delving deeper puts in actual context, but if power metal is a genre which lights the passions it is not an issue as instantly one cuts deeper into a song anyway. Songs like Under The Same Sky with its triumphant rhythms and stunning opening female vocal flames, the emotive and stirring Farewell with again exceptional opening sky lighting female voices, and the magnetic Ephemeral with its charged riffing, all leave lasting satisfaction upon thoughts and emotions.
The first half of the album probably has the edge to be honest with its more unexpected elements and melodic ferocity, but overall with further songs like End Of The Days featuring Fabio Lione (Rhapsody of Fire, Vision Divine, Kamelot) to leave only breathless pleasure, ShiHuangDi is an album which will excite all power/classic metal fans. Thy Majestie have returned to again stand to the fore of epic melodic metal.
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