After a great debut, Melbourne’s Black Majesty well and truly struck gold with album number two, 2005’s Silent Company.
Despite its sources of inspiration being obvious, it was a winning combination of stirring vocal melodies, infectious guitar work, an engaging sensibility and near-peerless production. Overall, it was one of the best Australian albums of the past decade. Which is why it was disheartening when the power/prog-metal quartet made an album as middle-of-the-road and generic as 2007’s Tomorrowland. Three years on, In Your Honour goes some way to readdressing the balance, without quite capturing the same emotionally-charged vitality of their first two full-length records.
Much like Tomorrowland, album number four is firmly rooted in the keyboard-laden, European school of power metal, although more of their personality is able to make its presence known. The band are all exceptional players; John Cavaliere’s… ahem, majestic vocals soar on nearly every chorus and the combination of guitarists Stevie Janevski and Hanny Mohammed trade licks and invigorating Maidenized lead breaks with a chemistry which suggests they were born joined at the hip (see ‘Witching Hour’), but this is an instance of a particular album being a fraction less than the sum of its parts. Perhaps this is because of the formula or because it doesn’t do quite enough to differentiate itself from the scores of other bands already mining these musical fields, but such doubt lingers throughout, even after a substantial number of spins. For instance, opener ‘Far Beyond’ comes barreling out of the gate with conviction, but you can’t quite shake that overly familiar feeling, that Black Majesty themselves have even bested this in the past, not to mention countless other bands having done so.
To give them their due, this is by no means an awful album and there are at least a handful of songs amongst the 12 on offer that are likely to maintain your interest after the euphoric feeling of hearing a new album wears off. Hook-laden ballad ‘Break These Chains’ staves off the clichés effectively enough and ‘God Of War’ is a melodic mid-tempo hard rocker channeling the greats of the genre, with a Black Majesty twist all of its own. The faster ‘Further Than Insane’ fuses infectious melodies with classy lead work, giving an otherwise very familiar-sounding and feeling track an edge and the up-tempo guitar crunch of ‘End Of Time’ brims with perhaps the strongest hooks of the record.
In Your Honour is highly competent, occasionally brilliant but also a tad flavourless and derivative to resonate as their first two releases did. That said, these guys possess the ideal sound to crack the European market – whatever the shortcomings of this album – and surely greater overseas success beckons for the Melbourne lads with this record.
1. Far Beyond
2. God of war
4. Break These Chains
5. Further than Insane
6. End of Time
7. Wish You Well
9. Witching Hour
10. Two Hearts