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Manopoor. - 35%

Diamhea, December 3rd, 2014

I admit to not having much of an ear for the more indulgent, audacious end of the power metal spectrum. Particularly concerning so many European acts, there is oftentimes far too much emphasis on the shred-happy postulate, relegating the actual riffs to background noise shoehorned in just because it has become expected. The German scene is typically such a consistent exception to this depressing rule, the list of reputable and consistent bands grows longer all of the time. The unification that rises up when the heavy in heavy/power metal is accentuated is where I call my personal taste home. Retain just enough of the latter to deliver uproarious choruses, and make the listener work for it in between courtesy of punishing, mammoth riffs that just ooze the dynamism that makes both extremes coexist in harmony. It is sort of like apples and peanut butter. It sounds strange in concept, but once you experience both together you are sold for life!

So where the heck does Majesty fall concerning this rambling abstraction? Well, this band is certainly one of the stranger cases I have come across. These Germans certainly brought the riffs with them, and feature an ever so slight emphasis on stronger vocal melodies sort of like Wizard. The militaristic march of Banners High sets the stage mightily in that decidedly Manowar style, so things are definitely looking pretty good going in. "We Want His Head" opens up so damn promising, with that banshee wail erupting out of the gates, followed by that fist-pumping, "Head of the Deceiver" quality refrain. The rollicking temperament of the rhythm section is in decent form, and I can draw so many comparisons to Wizard here I won't even bother going into detail. If you enjoy Wizard you will like this track.

Note that I only specified that single song, as the rest of Banners High comes nowhere close and is a massive disappointment even compared to the so-so Thunder Rider. On the rest of the material, Maghary sounds like he has given up, simply sleepwalking through what needs to be a spirited performance. It barely sounds like he is even singing at times, and the riffs seriously begin to decay when not paired with the corresponding allure. The title track really plays up the trumpet-sounding, triumphant inclination with that choral introduction, but even a memorable note progression on the chorus can't save it. Maghary just kills this for me, and to be honestly Majesty's riffs were never that great to begin with; with all eyes on them, they drop their weapons and retreat from the battlefield. It sounds even more pathetic when paired with what are supposed to be such uplifting, heroic lyrics concerning all of the typical fare. When "Bloodshed and Steel" is the most creative song title on your album, you need to take another look at your approach or hire a competent translator. Wizard's obsession with Odin grew tiring as well, but you don't need to look any further than records like Goochan to see that they were consciously trying to stretch the narrative to broaden their appeal.

Majesty just...suck in comparison and come off like a peddler's Manowar. Yes, they sound similar to the band they so shamelessly try to lampoon (just look at the cover arts), but without a competent vocalist Banners High is nothing more than an inveigling and overcompensated attempt to fit into the crowd. "United by Freedom" and "We Want His Head" are the only good songs here, and I was bored out of my mind listening to this one. I guess you can't win them all, but this band has delivered the goods in the past. I'm not sure what Maghery's deal was during the recording sessions, but he is the Achilles heel of this outfit nowadays and slays what is typically a dependable framework. What were they thinking?!