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Thy Majestie - "ShiHuangDi" (CD)

Thy Majestie - "ShiHuangDi" CD cover image

"ShiHuangDi" track listing:

1. Zhongguo (2:16)
2. Seven Reigns (4:47)
3. Harbinger Of A New Dawn (4:09)
4. Siblings Of Tian (5:13)
5. Walls Of The Emperor (5:29)
6. Under The Same Sky (5:57)
7. Farewell (6:36)
8. Huanghun (1:53)
9. Ephemeral (6:25)
10. End Of The Days (4:55)
11. Requiem (3:09)

Reviewed by on October 1, 2012

"Where Cthonic and Myrath expertly blend the culture of respective native homelands with metal music, Thy Majesite morphs its symphonic metal style around the cultural sounds the album's subject matter, with the band members as movie score composers."

In the year 222 B.C., deep within the dangerous jungles of east Asia in the country of Zhongguo, the young and terrified king of Qi, with his back against the wall of water on his eastern border, frantically sent 300,000 men to his shrinking western border to fight the cruel and powerful Qin leader Zhào Zhèng. You see, Qi was the last, and farthest east, of the warring states in ancient China. Zhèng fooled his inexperienced and terrified enemy and invaded from the north instead, thus easily capturing the young king. With the last territory conquered, Zhèng declared himself “ShiHuangdi,” the very first emperor. With his rule of the newly unified country, Zhèng standardized Chinese writing, bureaucracy, law, currency, and a system of weights and measures. His reign developed a road system, massive fortifications and palaces. Under this “Qin Dynasty,” the emperor formed the Great Wall of China to stop invading barbarians from the North. Thy Majestie’s latest album is a conceptual tribute to his legacy, one that would unify China for 2,000 years.

The album’s most amazing success is the weaving in of classic oriental music with its own symphonic “majestie.” By definition, this is symphonic metal. From a listener’s perspective, this is an audio historical text book that covers a period of history rich in culture and war over a soundtrack of beautifully crafted melodies and a truly phenomenal vocal performance.

Much like “Hastings 1066" and “Jeanne d’Arc,” the band perfectly blends music of the historical period with its own. With “ShiHuangdi,” sounds of the ancient guzheng can be heard in songs like “Farewell” and the closer “Requiem.” Most bands merely use history as subject matter for lyrics, but “ShiHuangdi” is more than just a history lesson. The album has a real sense of the orient embedded within the soundscapes Thy Majestie presents. Where Cthonic and Myrath expertly blend the culture of respective native homelands with metal music, Thy Majesite morphs its symphonic metal style around the cultural sounds the album's subject matter, with the band members as movie score composers.

The album's breathtaking orchestrations are highlighted by gigantic and fetching choruses. Among the best include “Siblings of Tian,” “Seven Reigns,” “Ephemeral,” and “Farewell.” The euro-blasted riffs of Simone Campione have never sounded better than when drenched in the soy sauce of the must-hear keyboard brilliance of Giuseppe Carrubba. The album is an Asiatic journey with a side of duck sauce, and from the opening jungle scene set by "Zhongguo" (the original name of China), the listener is whisked away to a time long ago to watch modern day China take form.

In yet another vocal change (the band’s sixth and fourth over the last four releases), Thy Majestie has finally found “the one.” The wonderfully impressive vocals come via Alessio Taormina (Crimson Wind), who has a range that leans towards Fabio Lione, in terms of ability. Incidentally, the comparison can easily be tested with Lione manning the helm on “End of the Days.” Taormina’s high range is perfect, especially in songs like “Seven Reigns,” “Harbinger of a New Dawn” and “Under the Same Sky.”

After a darker departure from its true sound on the 2008 release “Dawn,” Thy Majestie has come full circle to the glorious Italian euro-metal that many U.S. fans will hate because of its “stereotypical” and “overdone” sound. I am not one of those. There are enough metal bands in this world to satisfy the tastes of pretty much every fan. If you are one of those metal fans that expects every single band to create new styles or redefine old ones with every single release, then Thy Majestie is not the music you are looking for. For those fans that never tire of the spellbinding melodies, soaring vocals, and movie score majesty, “ShiHuangdi” should be on the ever growing "short list" of great albums released this year.

Highs: All the brilliance of Italian euro power metal over a bed of white rice.

Lows: Will not impress anyone that hates the stereotypical Italian symphonic metal.

Bottom line: Confucius say: 'When stuck in musical mud....press play on 'ShiHuangDi.'

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)