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Majestic - Arrival CD (album) cover

ARRIVAL

Majestic

 

Neo-Prog

4.08 | 76 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars 2009's 'Arrival' is a splendid career-making monument to multi-instrumentalist Jeff Hamel, a composer and artist of the very highest order who unfortunately does not yet receive his meritorious due. Well, I feel a gross injustice in seeing too few adherents to such a stellar musician and his craft. Majestic all started for me with the unexpected genius of 2012's 'V.O.Z.' a killer double CD of the very highest caliber. So I went out and got from Jeff the latest 2014 release 'Epsilon 1' and this slice of genius which had already received very high ratings. I was also inspired by the rather simple artwork which somehow harkened back to Robin Trower's classic 'Bridge of Sighs' (in my opinion, a huge missing link on PA). 4 tracks, two long ones and two shorter ones, all stellar stuff!

A bold move to kick off an album with a 22 minute rambler but 'Gray' gets it done. Both Jeff Hamel and Jessica Rasche combine to entwine their vocal chords in a brief serenade that precedes the booming explosion, a bull-dozing mellotron and guitar assault on the senses, sternly powered by some potent drumming. One can conjure similarities with Ayreon (or its softer off-shoot Ambeon) or Polish heavy-prog advocates Riverside but Hamel likes to bejewel his own diamonds into the mix, tallying voice effects, grandiloquent arrangements and sweltering soloing on the guitar. Essentially full-on turbo prog motoring, the relentless assault is vibrant and epic, a steamroller with attention to melody and detail. A playground section has children voices playing in apparent joy, sweeping synthesized winds blowing the leaves across some fictive carousel, leisurely building towards another glorious chorus (Jessica has a fine voice!), the bass climbs on the bandwagon and Hamel slithers up and down his fret board with apparent glee. A sudden morph into a quasi Hawkwind-like riff , more thumping organ and drums in unison and POW, a slingshot into the cosmos! An emblematic Floydian mood is then firmly established with sublime female wailing, Hamel then offering up a vocal counterpoint and letting his brash guitar do the ranting! Crash and burn outro gives this piece some serious credentials in terms of substance and power.

The immortally striking 'Wish' is perhaps one of the finest tracks in the last 10 years, an explosive cocktail of urgency and desire, complete with stunning acoustic guitar work and much later in the track, a long, sensual and saturated solo of incredible stature, feel and immensity, a true guitar solo classic of the genre. Crystalline droplets of shimmering beauty permit Rasche to blow the roof off with some Kate Bush-like wailing that will force any prog fan to kneel in absolute reverence. This uncomplicated piece has captured my deepest interest and I find myself returning to it often and with great anticipation. What a genial performance!

The rambunctious onslaught of crushing bulldozer rock found on 'Glide' will undoubtedly wake you up from any mid-afternoon siesta and get you pumped up, big time! Unwittingly on the heavier side of the spectrum, this 9 minute+ rocker will raise the heart rate and provide an exhilarating sense of enjoyment, again due to the explosive Rasche voice, as well as the stunning keyboard, bass and drum work executed by Mr Hamel. His gurgling synthesizer solo spot will enhance his leaden rifferama to the highest apex, twisting on a dime, stop- start accelerations and just merciless soloing.

Then to close off the proceedings with a whopping title track 36 minute finale ,well that takes guts, balls, cojones , call 'em what you will! Astrophysical seminar expertise effects , tolling guitars announcing some interplanetary event on the horizon , a hint of Yes (Soon section on Relayer), an unmistakable dash of Funkadelic's classic guitar rant 'Maggot Brain', some vigorous symphonics , incredible vocal inflections from Jessica Rasche that all conspire together to construct a memorable main theme that will sear your brain. Nothing rushed or formulaic, always fresh and exalting, constantly pulsating and energetic. The 'show me now, how to live' vocal section is outright orgasmic, terrifically inspired guitar blasting notes beyond the stars. No fluff here! Then follows an extended instrumental platform where the master gets to show some serious chops and intensive creativity. Loads of endless screeching wah-wah infused guitar, played by a man possessed but mostly, an unconcealed sense of effortless enjoyment. As far as massive epics go, this one reigns supreme! Jessica blasts forth some 'little pieces' with incredible energy, a vocal tour de force that will blow your mind or your speakers (or both). WOW!

It stands to reason that this is the highest rated Majestic album to date, a massive success in terms of heavy neo-prog but honestly, Majestic is a cinema show on its own standing, utterly deserving of the highest accolades and most exuberant applause.

5 Departures

tszirmay | 5/5 |

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