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I don't know how these guys keep doing it. Aside from the rather mediocre Tomorrowland, Black Majesty have done nothing but continuously pumping out top-notch power metal albums for the past 10 years now. And guess what? Stargazer is yet another winner, with every song being, at the very least, solid. However, there is some variance, with tracks ranging from just "solid" to "IT'S IN MY HEEEAAAD!!" Mostly the latter.
Starting us off in the latter category, we have opener "Falling," which wastes no time at all throwing a great riff and a great vocal performance from John Cavaliere at our faces. Add its breakneck speed, an infectious chorus, and a memorable solo, and you've got yourself a winner. They definitely picked a good foot to place forward. "Lost Highway" picks up right where its predecessor left off, albeit with a slightly slower pace, but the highlights are still there: powerful vocals from Cavaliere, catchy and simple riffs, and a purposeful pace. My pick of the litter would have to be "Journey to the Soul," which, once again, is all about its deliberate pace and masterfully melodic lead guitars and vocals.
Trust me when I say that the album's tendency to be extremely samey *on paper* does not mean it's samey at all. To make a bold analogy, it's like talking about Black Sabbath's self-titled; every track will sound the same on paper, even though it's the furthest thing from the truth.
I've neglected to mention the bassist and drummer up until now, I realize. For the latter, it's because I'm not much of an expert on the art of drumming, but Pavel Konvalinka plays with exuberance and skill, making sure that there's never a dull moment with him around. As for the bassist...there isn't one. There are two guitarists, so I'm assuming one of them takes it upon himself to act like a bassist, but it strikes me as odd, considering the band's sound is so beefy and bass-y, that it almost seems ludicrous that there's no bassist. Maybe it's the lion and he can't be credited because he can't make people noises. Who knows?
But anyway, I've gotten off track here. Stargazer does have a slight problem that keeps it from getting a perfect score, and that problem is its front-loaded nature. The handful of songs I'd mentioned earlier that classify as merely "solid" are lumped into the album's second half. "Holy Killers" has a skillful solo that will disappoint no one, but the chorus is a little wonky and the verses don't do much to distinguish themselves. "Symphony of Death" begins softly and promises an epic build-up, but said build-up does not meet expectations. Some solid galloping riffs and vocal lines will have to suffice.
Luckily, the album ends on a high note. "Edge of the World" is easily the fastest tune Black Majesty have written in years, featuring some truly blistering guitar leads and a very, very battered drum kit. Poor Pavel must've been sore for weeks after that. And to top off the album, "Stargazer" marches in with a slower and more deliberate pace. While some might find it to be too slow at first, the group uses it to their full advantage, building up a thick and triumphant sound. A powerful finish to a powerful album.
And so, once again, Black Majesty have done both Australia and power metal as a whole proud. With their unique combination of Euro-power metal melodic mastery and US power metal speed and heaviness, these guys are to be heard by all fans of the genre, and if you've never given Black Majesty a listen yet, then there's no better place to start than with Stargazer. With any luck, you may find you've just discovered your new favorite group!