|Musical Style: Melodic Power Metal||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Liljegren Records||Country Of Origin: Sweden|
|Year Released: 2010||Artist Website: ReinXeed|
|Tracks: 12||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 67:23|
It is easy to start a controversy when power metal is the topic of discussion. Who among metal fans doesn’t have strong opinions about the genre? From Euro style power metal (Seventh Avenue) to classic US power metal (Jacobs Dream) to melodic power metal (Magnitude 9) to epic power metal (Theocracy), there’s plenty to listen to and talk about.
The debate over the leading form of power metal will unlikely resolve itself soon in that each of its forms brings not only its unique strengths and qualities but top players as well. That said, it is without a doubt that Europe has been at the forefront of the power metal movement in producing such well known acts as Helloween, Blind Guardian, Rhapsody Of Fire, Sonata Arctica and Stravovarius.
In terms of the European Christian power metal scene, Germany’s Seventh Avenue and Sweden’s Narnia are two of the more longstanding and better known acts. Sweden is home to another top of the line group in Harmony while Divinefire features members from both Sweden and Finland. Finland has produced its share of talent as well in HB, Sacrecy, Wingdom and Venia.
And this leads us to the one band from the region that has recently stepped it up several notches: ReinXeed. Hailing from Sweden and the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Tommy Johansson, ReinXeed has been quite the prolific act as of late in releasing its CMSweden/Rivel Records debut and sophomore efforts The Light and Higher in 2008 and 2009 respectively. The group returns on Liljegren Records (same label but different name) in late 2010 with its third full length offering, Majestic.
Majestic finds ReinXeed staying true to its past by heading in melodic power metal territory but with epic and symphonic overtones. The band actually describes itself as “adventure metal”. What am I hearing? Non-stop double bass drumming, high end vocals, cinematic overtures and plenty of shredding – at times neo-classically influenced – lead guitar work.
But how well does it add up? In comparison to the bands previous efforts, Majestic proves the all around more consistent work from a songwriting standpoint in featuring no filler tracks and the stronger melodies and greater accessibility throughout.
If you enjoy your metal fast – and by that I mean approaching speed metal territory – then “Deep Under Sea”, “Invincible” and “Neverland” will appeal to you. “My Paradise” maintains the tempestuous spirit but mixed with some neo-classical flavorings. When ReinXeed slows the tempo, such as on “Never Lie”, “Once Upon A Time” and “Atlantis”, it proves its ability to compose a piece literally awash in melody. The versatility of the group’s songwriting skills can be found in the progressiveness of the albums title track and lushly done ballad “Second Chance”.
Founding member Tommy Johansson continues to play a “jack of all trades” role in handling lead vocals, guitars, keyboards and orchestration. One reviewer who described him as a “vocalist-guitarist-keyboardist-bassist-songwriter-just-about-everything-except-the-kitchen-sink” hit the nail on the head.
The artist maintains his penchant for clear and pristine vocals with a high end touch. Specifically, Johansson proves adept at going for a high note without overdoing it, as can be found in the occasionally falsetto he imbues the project. Fans of Ski (Faith Factor) Eli Prinsen (The Sacrificed) and Vett Roberts (Recon) will find his style much to their delight.
Liner notes credit three guitarists: Johansson, Calle Sundberg and Matt Machine. I do not know who handles what – in terms of rhythm guitar and which solo on what song and when – but the guitar performance is quite impressive. Those into speedy lead guitar playing with neo-classical influences are going to find a lot to like here. Just check out the fleet soloing on “Deep Under Sea” and “Invincible” or the generous instrumental portions to “Melody Of Life” and “My Paradise” to find out what I am talking about.
It also must be noted the strength of the keyboard work, which – mixed with piano, choir vocals and strings – helps lend to the projects symphonic and cinematic aura.
Production represents a step forward in comparison to The Light and Higher. In particular, ReinXeed has captured the rhythm guitar sound it has been looking for- gone are the extended passages in which all you can hear are keyboards and drums. The only thing constructive to offer is that the bass could have played a bit more forward role in the mix.
Lyrics, similar to past ReinXeed projects, are based around epic high fantasy and medieval themes but mixed with faith based and spiritual imagery. Unfortunately, lyrics did not come with the packaging so I am unable to comment on specifics.
Complaints are few and far between. The group perhaps could have added an instrumental or epic in the ten minute range for a bit of variety but otherwise this is a solid work from the ground up.
Track By Track
“Deep Under Sea” fades in to cinematic keyboards prior to taking off at a near speed metal clip. At that point we are off, as the song races its distance to rapid double bass in abundance and riffs of an expeditious variety. Backing vocals step forward to interweave with its poignantly done chorus. Destra comes to mind in the process.
‘Invincible” jump starts to an immediate burst of energy, plowing forward with a furious abandon that, again, approaches speed metal territory. Johansson really stretches on this one – particularly for its energized chorus – in exhibiting the full range to his voice. A classical feel is exhibited by the song during its extended instrumental stretch.
A plethora of melody is delivered on “Never Lie”. The song tapers the pace – if even just slightly – in backing away from the unremitting pace of the previous two while placing emphasis on a huge background vocal driven chorus that would do Theocracy proud. The music here is so positive you cannot help but walk away feeling encouraged.
The melody driven slant continues with “Once Upon A Time”. The cinematic joining of keyboards and guitar at the start of the song give way to the persuasive riff that upholds its verses. Evenly flowing to its catchy chorus, “Once Upon A Time” shines in that, once more, we are reminded of Theocracy. By far the albums best track.
“Melody Of Life” returns things to an up-tempo direction. The song represents quintessential ReinXeed, merging front to back galloping riffs and accenting keyboards with polished backing vocals in needed amounts. But what puts things over the top is a lengthy instrumental excursion upheld by stretch of fast as it gets lead guitar.
“Atlantis” starts slowly to a grand and symphonic opening. Abruptly kicking into high gear, the song storms its verses in high-octane fashion only to smoothly taper for an inviting chorus highlighting a near medieval flair. Am I out of line to suggest a Rhapsody Of Fire comparison?
The albums lone ballad, “Second Chance”, is a heartfelt piece with its melodic guitar harmonies and underlining elements of piano. Rhythm guitar is added to taste while topping things off are the bands larger than life backing vocals. Put this on any Stryper album and it would sound right at home.
“My Paradise” brings some neo-classical elements. What we have here is a song upheld by a frenetic tempo and non-stop double bass, the stalwart setting maintained for the raging onslaught that is its chorus. A sweeping instrumental section backed by some well timed harpsichord hints at Impellitteri.
It does not get much faster than “Neverland”. With its breakneck tempo and incessant urgings, the song invites comparison to another relentless power metal anthem: “Children Of The Light” by Sacred Warrior. Initiative only tapers for a short orchestral interlude prior to the onset of its instrumental passage.
“Majestic”, the albums longest at 7:23, delivers a progressive based sound with time and tempo changes too numerous to go into adequate detail. Overall, the song proves palatial in capacity with occasional medieval elements, as can be found in its sublime chorus backed by over the top vocal melodies (something I say in a positive sense). This one hints somewhat at Blind Guardian.
The orchestral keyboards accenting “Lighting Strikes” help create a dramatic backdrop. The song, otherwise, is of the high energy sorts with its focus on the driven and Johansson cutting loose with several well timed falsettos.
“Sword In Stone” closes things strongly. A hook driven chorus and layers of tight guitar harmonies bring out the best in another solid number adding to the depth of what proves a consistent album from front to back.
I always knew that ReinXeed had a great album in them and such is what we have in Majestic. Improvements in the areas of songwriting (enough quality and diversity to hold your attention) and production (again, the rhythm guitar gets the mix it deserves) will allow this to remain at the top of your play list for some time. And much to our benefit, ReinXeed promises to remain active in that its fourth full length album is scheduled for release in 2011. Looking forward to hearing more.
Track Listing: “Deep Under Sea” (6:09), “Invincible” (4:25), “Never Lie” (4:25), Once Upon A Time” (6:25), “Melody Of Life” (6:25), “Atlantis” (5:00), “Second Chance” (5:13), “My Paradise” (6:06), “Neverland” (4:37), “Majestic” (7:23), “Lightning Strikes” (6:24), “Sword In Stone” (5:14)
Tommy Johansson – Lead Vocals, Guitars, Keyboard & Orchestration
Calle Sundberg - Guitars
Matt Machine - Guitars
Ace Thunder - Bass
Victor Olofsson - Drums
Viggo Svanberg – Lead Vocals (“Melody Of Life”)
Mark E Gunnardo – Lead Vocals (“My Paradise”)
Calle Sundberg – Lead Vocals (“Once Upon A Time”)
Matt Machine – Lead Vocals (“Neverland”)