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A mediocre album from a good band - 64%

Empyreal, October 23rd, 2007

As anyone who looks through my reviews would notice, I'm a fan of Australian power metallers Black Majesty. They're one of the stronger power metal acts around these days, with intricate, complicated Fates Warning-isms and bits of Blind Guardian floating through their wide plethora of songwriting influences, soaring, operatic vocals, technical and heavy riffage, and overall more POWER than other power metal bands could even dream of these days. Their sophomore effort Silent Company was fantastic, blending the progressive, Awaken the Guardian-esque song structures of the debut with a healthy dose of catchy choruses and melodies ala Gamma Ray or Iron Maiden, making for quite the enjoyable and endlessly replayable sound. Upon learning of the advent of their new album Tomorrowland, I was hoping they'd be able to keep the magic flame of their previous releases burning strong, but sadly I must say this is a bit of a disappointment.

On the surface, this is still a Black Majesty album. They haven't turned into raging homosexual butt-pirates as Twilightning have, and they certainly haven't watered their sound down into a sugary, poppy, sterilized mush as the (wishfully) deceased Nocturnal Rites have done. If anything, this is their most complex album yet, as it took longer to sink in for me than either of the others did. The songs mostly hover around the 4-5 minute mark, and for some reason there is a lack of a long, epic songs and of ballads, leaving all of the space here for more midpaced, thoughtful pounders than anything else. As is expected from such a warning sign, this lacks the cohesive, intelligent punch of the debut and the catchy, explosive power of Silent Company, as these songs are wholly unmemorable, faceless and even boring sometimes. The songwriting is still complex, yet it doesn't stun me in the way that Sands of Time did, instead blending this album into background music most of the time. The band just didn't seem to want to focus on catchiness or memorability here, creating technically good tunes that will pass by you in a blur and leave you still humming the title track and "Firestorm" off the last album. Sure, "Forever Damned" is a pretty good opener, but it crumbles in the face of the openers of the other two albums by this band. After that, the album pretty much sinks into unmemorable slush, and never recovers.

I don't think the vocal melodies here are very good, either. Gio Cavaliere has a fantastic voice, but in the same way the band stopped writing catchy tunes, his vocal lines have become very bland, for lack of a better word. He's still singing and he's still on key, but you won't remember any of these lines after the disc stops playing. The vocal melodies here are often even quite annoying, as is evident on the rather strained, dragging chorus of "Into the Black", and you'd think Cavaliere would do better, considering that this is the same guy who belted out the star-shattering falsetto on "A Better Way to Die" and the stimulating, energetic final lines of the epic "Dragon Reborn." This just isn't the best he can do, period. I know the band can write better vocal melodies than they did here. Every singer has a few bad days, and unfortunately, Cavaliere had a few of his recorded onto this album.

This is by no means a bad album, but it's not very good either. While the songwriting is tight, it's not the best Black Majesty can do. The vocal lines are passable, yet very mediocre for this band. You'll spot a few good solos or riffs here and there (check "Scars" for the best), but this is basically a half-assed effort from an otherwise great band. Seriously, if a Deep Purple cover is the best song on your album, then you're probably doing something very wrong. It's got the markings of a transitional effort, though - the kind of pedestrian and boring album you'll get thrown at you right before a band releases a genre defining classic. Helloween did it with Rabbits coming before the grandiose Keepers III, so could Black Majesty as well be on the verge of creating a classic? Time will tell.