|Musical Style: Power/Progressive Metal||Produced By: Daniel Eskilsson|
|Record Label: Rivel||Country Of Origin: Sweden|
|Year Released: 2005||Artist Website: Majestic Vanguard|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 51:04|
The origin of Majestic Vanguard can be traced back to the early nineties when drummer Daniel Eskilsson and bassist Andreas Andersson and his brother keyboardist Samuel Andersson were all members of a band called Sentinel. After the group split up in 1995, the three crossed paths at a chance meeting several years later and, as a result of finding that the passion for metal was still burning, decided to again begin making music. Proceeding to recruit vocalist Peter Sigfridsson in the spring of 2003, the new band recorded a demo in early 2004 under the name Divine Disciples. When the demo in question made its way into the hands of Christian Rivel of Rivel Records, he contacted the group and signed it immediately. The band at that point recruited guitarist Johan Abbelson in addition to permanently changed its name to Majestic Vanguard.
I might describe Majestic Vanguard’s 2005 full length Rivel Records debut Beyond The Moon as melodic power metal with a heavy emphasis on the melodic. Fans of Harmony, Wingdom, Magnitude 9 and Destra will feel right at home here. An occasional progressive tendency, at the same time, cannot help but bring to mind the likes of Balance Of Power, Narnia or even Dream Theater as well.
With his smooth sounding mid-octave ranged vocal abilities, Peter Sigfriddson helps to give the band its signature sound, his voice coming across like a classy combination of Corey Brown (Magnitude 9) and Christian Rivel (Narnia, Divinefire). Bassist Andreas Andersson and drummer Daniel Eskilsson form an air tight rhythm section, while Samuel Freden adds just the right amount of touch on keyboards. Guitarist Johan Abbelson is quite the talented musician who, when at his best on tracks such as “Emotions Of A Picture” and “Take Me Home”, reminds me of another Johan- Carl Johan Grimmark (Narnia).
Production values are of the highest quality, showcasing just the right amount of big budget-like polish but not enough to take away from the bands natural raw energy.
“One Journey” is a brief (1:22) instrumental album opener progressing to a combination of instrumentation and orchestration.
"The Great Eternity" immediately gets going at an upbeat tempo to a strong double bass driven riff. After polished backing vocals helps take the song through its first and second verse, it evenly transitions to a smooth sounding chorus fortified by Sigfriddson abundant vocal delivery. I wish the lead guitar work following the first chorus had been extended by a few more additional seconds. “The Great Eternity” talks about exactly that:
There's so much to see
Inside the great eternity
Come and feel,
the Lamb will set you free
For the lonely heart
there's a flame in the dark,
in the great eternity of light
Opening in a fast paced manner only to slow slightly upon reaching its first verse, “Emotions Of A Picture” gains momentum until it peaks for an anthem-like bridge that almost comes across worshipful in feel:
Hail to the King
Hail the keeper of the key
Hail to the King
Hail to the King
Following a lengthy instrumental passage allowing guitarist Johan Abbelson to better display his fluid abilities on lead guitar, “Emotions Of A Picture” attains an extensive and sweeping but melodic flavored chorus.
The albums guitar driven title track is by far its heaviest compositions. A driving riff propels “Beyond The Moon” through its verse portions until it slowly builds before moving on to a stunning background vocal driven chorus that points to the person of Christ:
Freedom in the slaughtered Lamb
redemption as we reach the end
I saw His face, a silent touch
The night will never see
that the meeting must proceed
when Love became a blood red name
I love how the song slows for an instrumental passage opening to an aesthetic guitar solo that gives way to a combination of rhythm guitar and keyboards.
"Tears In Neverland" takes off to a swiftly moving guitar riff only to slow upon attaining its first verse. Gaining impetus in a guitar driven manner, the song reaches its zenith as it moves on to a catchy chorus reinforced by double bass. A lengthy instrumental passage gives Majestic Vanguard the opportunity to exhibit the strength of its instrumental sound.
"The Angels Dance" is a brief (1:55) but very well done acoustic based instrumental.
With its compelling combination of rhythm guitar and keyboards, “Don’t Want To Be An Actor” cannot help but bring to mind the Finnish hard rock band Wingdom. Carried forward from the start at a driving mid-tempo pace, “Don’t Want To Be An Actor” crests for a laid back and slowly moving chorus that stands in perfect complement to its verse portions. Abbelson effectively decorates the scene with his bluesy work on lead guitar.
A piano slowly takes “Take Me Home” through its first and second verse before a crisp rhythm guitar pushes it ahead, a galloping chorus buttressed by just the right amount of keyboards maintaining the upbeat momentum. One of the albums finest moments takes place when “Take Me Home” transitions to an acoustic guitar before Abbelson takes over with a minute and a half of incredible lead guitar work.
“Footprints” proves the albums least compelling composition. Beginning to a drum solo, the song moves through its first verse as the rhythm guitar bounces in and out of the mix. Subsequent to the rhythm guitar taking over hard and heavy, “Footprints” attains a chorus that does not quite stand out in the same noteworthy manner as the albums better material. In the end, however, “Footprints” does communicate great truth:
See the footprints in the golden sand
When you cross the river, feel no pain
Just take His hand
He'll lead you to the Promised Land
The progressive metal of “Mystic Eye”, on the other hand, is by far the albums strongest track. The keyboard solo introducing the song slowly builds until a near perfect blend of rhythm guitar and keyboards suddenly kicks in and drives it ahead in upbeat fashion. After a hard hitting riff carries “Mystic Eye” through its first and second verse, it acquires a chorus perfectly accentuated by the bands aggressively delivered backing vocals.
Majestic Vanguard proves a talented new outfit that, along with other young bands such as Wingdom, Divinefire and Revelation Project, I cannot help but think represents the future of Christian metal. Backing a polished production job with the bands top notch musicianship and melodic based songwriting, Beyond The Moon is certain to rank among the top metal releases of 2005. I look forward to hearing more from these guys in the future.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "One Journey" (1:22), "The Great Eternity" (4:44), "Emotions Of A Picture" (6:43), "Beyond The Moon" (5:35), "Tears In Neverland" (5:29), "The Angels Dance" (1:55), "Don’t Want To Be An Actor" (4:59), "Take Me Home" (7:25), "Footprints" (4:45), "Mystic Eye" (8:01)
Peter Sigfridsson – Lead Vocals
Johan Abbelson – Guitars
Samuel Freden – Keyboards
Andreas Andersson – Bass
Daniel Eskilsson – Drums & Percussion