MAJESTIES – Vast Reaches Unclaimed

MAJESTIES – Vast Reaches Unclaimed



Finally, an album I can honestly give a top score in a good while, “Vast Reaches Unclaimed” from the Minnesotan melodic death metal trio Majesties is very aptly named and a debut at that. In fact, I should call this old school melodic death metal as, if In Flames’ “The Jester Race”, Dark Tranquillity’s “The Gallery”, As The Gates’ “Slaughter Of The Soul”, Opeth’s “Orchid” and Katatonia’s “Brave Murder Day” had a child it would be Majesties.

Heretofore rather unknown to metalheads at large, formed in 2016 by Tanner Reed Anderson (vocals, guitars, drums), Carl N. Skildum (guitars) and Matthew Kirkwold (bass), Majesties comes from an American state also unknown to metal (name one band besides them) so that this 10 track nearly 40 minute debut is such a mature masterpiece of both relentless and simultaneous constant brutality and melody boggles the mind, especially since they often vary the pace and intensity which I realize may sound like a contradiction but that’s what we have. Anderson’s harsh vocals, a highly decipherable combination of Anders Frieden, Tomas Lindberg and Chuck Schuldiner, as well as boomy bass production add to that good old Gothenburg/Studio Fredman feeling. Of riffs there is no accounting for abundance but melodies per track ratio is 6-12, with half of them at at least 10, so we are practically drowning in melodies here, folks.

Already the opener is one of the album’s highlights, clearly a nod to In Flames’ sophomore masterpiece “The Jester Race” (complete with the acoustic breaks within) but, as it unfolds, Opeth’s debut “Orchid” and Dark Tranquillity’s “The Gallery”, and, in fact, everything the latter did before that, come to mind. Stylistically similar “The World Unseen” doubles the intensity and brutality easing up slightly on the melody for emphasis, a true death metal statement but it’s “Verdant Paths To Radiance” which reveals Majesties’ more progressive side as does the immediately following “Across The Neverwhen” which recalls The Black Dahlia Murder, both tracks highly evocative of Death’s “Individual Thought Patterns” and “Symbolic” so whenever you get to “Sidereal Spire” and its solo sounding as if the late Chuck Schuldiner made a guest appearance you are no longer surprised at the influence. What’s even cooler, next to ebbs flows and pace changes evidencing the masterful songwriting, is how smartly and subtly Majesties allude to the 2000s metalcore giants like Trivium, Unearth, War Of Ages or Shadows Fall without it being as obvious as their love for old In Flames, and, while I’m not sure it’s hardcore or rotting Obituary in the raw riffs of “City of Nine Gates” you can nevertheless shave with, I’m pretty sure I recognize ZAO’s “Ember” in the closing “Journey’s End”. And did I mention that every track is really different while they fit the same mold?

“Vast Reaches Unclaimed” is this year’s first perfect melodic metal release and I say this after about 6 exposures to this masterpiece. Every aspect is taken to its completion, not one unnecessary second, nothing I would do differently. The last time I was dealing with such perfection of a debut was Eternal Storm’s “Come The Tide” and that was 2019. This is easily my early contender for album of the year. Two things: these guys will be huge and if you are any kind of metal fan and you don’t check this out you will severely regret it.

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