Hot off the Press

Black Majesty | Stargazer

by Joe Mis
– Columnist —

Australia’s power metal specialists Black Majesty have recently released their fifth studio album entitled Stargazer. This eagerly anticipated follow up to 2010’s In Your Honour cements the hard working quartet firmly into the realm of power metal pioneers. Black Majesty continues to produce melodic, progressive power metal with a unique, almost “Aussie” flavor that helps them to stand out from the crowd thanks to both excellent performance and innovative composition.

With roots extending back to 2001 (as Kymera), Black Majesty came out of the Melbourne progressive metal scene and claims diverse influence by Queensryche, Jag Panzer and Iron Maiden. Sands Of Time was released in 2003 to solid reviews. They shifted focus towards melodic power metal on 2005’s Silent Company and 2007’s Tomorrowland. 2010 saw In Your Honour, and now in 2012, the metaphysical Stargazer.

Production values are very high thanks to the superb work of producer Roland Grapow (Masterplan, ex-Helloween). Everything is recorded with power metal crispness, but somehow manages to convey a sense of warmth instead of the overdone sterility that sometimes appears on albums of this genre. Instrumentally and vocally Black Majesty is at the top of their game, and there are few, if any, negatives on this recording. Each creative song is rife with lush melodies and complex rhythms, elements of progressive metal mixing nicely with the power metal base.

The album opens on a high with “Falling.” Intense rhythm guitars and showpiece solos are provided by Steve Janevski and Hanny Mohamed, nicely building layers under John Cavaliere’s powerful and moody vocals. Pavel Konvalinka’s drum work is amazingly manic and well suited to the speed and power of the track. The whole song is incredibly tight, giving the listener an indication of what is to follow. “Lost Horizon” turns down the energy just a bit, and Cavaliere’s vocal abilities and Konvalinka’s drums take center stage. As on all other tracks Cavaliere stays well within his vocal range, never cracking or bottoming out, while delivering clear and precise notes. “Voice Of Change” is all about the guitars – rapid fire riffs, big hooks and spectacular leaping breaks. Cavaliere sticks to the high end of his range while the guitars drop to the low end, providing great tonal contrast on “Killing Hand.” “Journey To The Soul” is a well written lower key song (well, lower key for Black Majesty anyway) with a great chorus and thoughtful lyrics.

A big, sweeping guitar intro helps “Holy Killers” to get the second half of the CD off and running. This track also features some of the best guitar solos on the disc. A near symphonic opening to the ballad-like “Symphony Of Death” allows the drums to carry the melancholy track to a somber end. “Edge Of The World” is an excellent high energy track and Konvalinka’s showpiece. The title track is the strongest on the album, featuring great musicianship by all, solid lyrics and a great chorus. This is Black Majesty firing on all cylinders, and it is a fine official wrap up to Stargazer. The neat acoustic number “Shine” is the bonus track on the German edition.

Fans of melodic power metal or progressive metal will enjoy this release, and longtime Black Majesty fans will discover that Stargazer was indeed worth the wait. Black Majesty continues to improve with age and the band gets tighter with each new release. Stargazer is definitely one of the finer power metal albums of 2012. This IS metal!

Highly recommended.

Genre: Power Metal

John Cavaliere (vocals)
Pavel Konvalinka (drums)
Steve Janevski (guitar)
Hanny Mohamed (guitar)

Track Listing:
1. Falling
2. Lost Horizon
3. Voice Of Change
4. Killing Hand
5. Journey To The Soul
6. Holy Killers
7. Symphony Of Death
8. Edge Of The World
9. Stargazer
10. Shine (Bonus Track)

Label: Limb Music


Hardrock Haven rating: 8.5/10