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Thy Majestie - 'ShiHuangDi' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/a8/d5/bc/3104_thymajestieshihuangdi_1356480048.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     December 25, 2012    
 
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High end art, exquisitely crafted by a band who've now earned their place amongst the genre elite.

Elder statesmen of the Italian symphonic power metal scene, after a three year hiatus Thy Majestie return to action with their fifth full length studio opus ‘ShiHuangDi’. Given their past penchant for grandiose conceptual ventures it should come as little surprise to learn that this latest effort follows that same established pattern, the subject matter here inspired by the pivotal life of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of a unified China some eighteen centuries ago…consequently, the usual mix of blazing riffs, searing solos and lavish orchestration is laced with a goodly repast of Far Eastern motifs.

Now, the life and times of a Chinese Emperor nearly two millennia ago might not be the first subject most of us would plump for when putting together the perfect symphonic power metal concept, but the lavish attention to detail the band have poured into the project makes it no less compelling. The first thing that struck me was the sheer quality of the production; a sweeping maelstrom of sound ebbing and flowing from one tumultuous crescendo to the next, yet precision engineered and delivered in amazing clarity. There’s always a risk that a lot of the subtle nuances inherent with complex music like this can get lost in the mix but (thanks to Mika Jussila from Finnvox Studios in Helsinki) that’s definitely not the case here.

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The addition of a special guest appearance from Rhapsody Of Fire man Fabio Lione on penultimate track ‘End Of Days’ is a nice little bonus, but in truth, Thy Majestie should have sold you long before that with a dazzling display of technical dexterity, epic storytelling and potent hooks. Opener ‘Zhoongguo’ is a shortish, ambient instrumental that sets the mood before the album kicks off proper with the vivacious staccato of ‘Seven Reigns’. Then, for the better part of an hour you’re senses are thrown into overload as the ever more intoxicating jumble of juxtaposable moods weaves its magic on your subconscious. Individual tracks, whilst meritorious on their own (try ‘Ephemeral’ for instance, or maybe ‘Under The Same Sky’, both of which capture the essence of the whole album quite admirably), pale into insignificance when placed in the wider, overall concept.

Those with simpler tastes may struggle a little with the sheer ostentatiousness (dare I say progressive) nature of this – indeed, I could see some proclaiming it to be yet more pretentious crap – but in all honesty, this is high end art, exquisitely crafted by a band who’ve now earned their place amongst the genre elite.

Dave Cockett

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