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Majestic - Epsilon 1 CD (album) cover

EPSILON 1

Majestic

 

Neo-Prog

3.57 | 37 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Majestic keeps on rolling with a 2014 release, the heavily sci-fied 'Epsilon 1', a future musical universe of galactic dimension. As usual with multi-instrumentalist and compose Jeff Hamel, the discerning prog fan will be comforted with the usual parameters to rely on, such as Hamel handling all the keys, bass and guitars, plus the ubiquitous epic suite to dazzle the minds, as well as some neat surprises. One such revelation is the presence of the unique Marc Atkinson (ex-Nine Stones Close and currently manning Riversea) , a voice that is about as melancholic as it gets, who guests on the third track 'Starlight'. This album represents a definite maturing in the depth of Hamel's vision, closer than ever to Ayreon's epic grandiloquence, propelled by Mike Kosacek's heavy metal drum pounding. The remaining cameo spots are vocalists Celine Derval, Chris Hodges and David Cagle.

The symphonic brouhaha begins with the fiery 11 minute+ 'Chariots', featuring Hodges' heavy rock singer voice. Echoing pools of ivory splendor with some lush mellotron torrents, the mood expands into a harder edged universe, clanging guitar chords fighting off both heavier riffs and thunderous drums.

The psychotic 'Mother Dearest' is even heavier and brasher , skirting into outright metal horizons, emitting a DT, Roswell 6, Rocket Scientists feel, with Kosacek in particular bashing a hard bass drum , fueling some leaden riffs, screeching leads and propulsive bass. The dissonant mid-section emits a strong sensation of perplexity, cottony surrender and flaccid drooling. Swirling moods, vocoded voice (Derval) and intransigent guitar shavings create quite a magic carpet ride of inane psychedelic mania.

There is no denying Marc Atkinson's voice commanding deep respect on the luminous 'Starlight', he is the owner of one of the finest voices in prog, a moodier version of Steve Hoggarth and Mark Hollis. His vocals have a pleading and reverential quality that is impossible to emulate, profound melancholia and tight emotion are intertwined with delicate creativity. Swivelling synthesizer keeps the mood floating towards a higher purpose, contemplative and introspective, Hamel's lead guitar excursions providing all the shriek and strain needed to raise the goose bumps to a higher level. Ten minutes of ample bliss and hefty beauty.

As per his back catalogue, Hamel usually excels in the epic suite department (check out 'Arrival') and the 'Epsilon 1' extravaganza shows once again what a terrific composer the man is, building a three-part 24 minute + symphony of galactic fare of the very highest pedigree. This is rightfully the core of the album and is the defining factor in its inherent excellence. 'Event Horizon' is first up and longest of the trio, setting the tone for the imminent journey as Hamel has his axe screeching with impunity, weaving a clever and dense melody that will set the controls to the heart of the Epsilon universe, displaying a sublime blues-based technique that shines ever so brightly. The synth-blown main theme is achingly dazzling and revealing, with new vocalist David Cagle introducing his impressive Lou Gramm-like voice to the front of the stage, amid the glittering adornments and the steady beat from the ever reliable Kosacek.

Part 2 'Doorways ratchets it up a notch with a platform for some serious soloing including stellar lead guitar that is both very linear and exceedingly corrosive , all pushed forward by a turbocharged rhythm section, plowing madly forward. Hey, a little 'boom-boom-tchak' blowout is always welcome! Phenomenal and exciting, this will get the string mellotron fans excited as the walls of sound become bombastic and tyrannical, tossing in some insistent piano as well as the buzzing guitar insolence. Damn this is virtuous stuff indeed!

Part 3 'Samskaras is the icing on the cake, a return to the part 1 theme and a more ominous bass growl , Cagle now howling his inner pain while the guitar gently bites, snipes and chews relentlessly. Grandiose and magnificent, the Majestic sound has precisely that attribute in spades, a constant energy, a devout passion and incredible delivery. The mostly vocal finale is proof in the pudding, a glowing eruption of sheer delight. Typical sci-fi cover art adorns the package, another worthy effort in a splendid Majestic career, with many more to come, we all hope! I have become a huge fan of this unpretentious artist, you all need to give it a try.

4.5 planet Zorgons

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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