Thy Majestie - Dawn
Dark Balance
Symphonic Power Metal
12 songs (51'46")
Release year: 2008
Thy Majestie, Dark Balance
Reviewed by Erik
Archive review

Mention a symphonic metal band from Italy, and what pops into your head first? While it's easy to land on fantasy giants Rhapsody Of Fire, who some would say singlehandedly created what they term "Hollywood Metal", credit should also be given to lesser-known acts such as fellow countrymen Thy Majestie. With only a few albums to their name as opposed to one every 6 months, overlooking this band becomes easy, but they are a worthy early act in a genre that now includes headliners Nightwish, Within Temptation and to a degree Dark Moor and Kamelot.

Thy Majestie has suffered an astounding revolving door of musicians throughout its short lifespan, resulting in the departure of all the founding members by 2007. It's frankly miraculous that any sort of coherency still exists. Their specific style tends more towards a Dark Moor or Axenstar power metal approach, but with more orchestral arrangements, especially in the middle of their catalog with Hastings 1066 and Jeanne d'Arc. While most of their albums presented a great retelling of a historical battle or event timeline, their most recent project Dawn ventures into concept territory by dealing with the themes of depression, war, and destruction of the planet. There are three chapters, titled (in English) as Transfer, Destruction, and Revenge.

The two prior albums in particular set a bar that this album somehow can't quite reach. While the music is competently performed, this time with vocalist Dario Cascio leading the way, the level of emotion and passion appears to be diminished. For example, it seemed that the first five or so tracks, including the instrumental title track, were played while the band was asleep, or possibly hung over. While fairly speedy and somewhat catchy,most of the "dark" orchestrations that fans had come to expect were MIA, and honestly, it could have been any other anonymous group in action. I nearly had to double-check the name several times to make sure this was the right album, which is confusing and disappointing if the distinctive sound of their previous albums is how you identify with Thy Majestie.

Track six seems to rouse their spirits -- perhaps they took an invigorating run through the Sicilian hills in a Maserati -- the keyboard player starts waking up, and we have a higher level of energy for the remainder. Nearly all the material is mid- to uptempo paced and very melodic, creating memorable verses and chorus lines. Part of their unique sound is a very dry-mixed drum kit and palm-muted rhythm guitar, giving the vocals and keys more of a focus. The five-part Legacy Suite (the Destruction chapter) could be considered a bit of a highlight, with some well-composed symphonic interludes carrying the story forward. Standouts include the high-paced To An Endless Devotion and Two Minutes Hate. Rounding out Dawn is Through Heat And Fire, an experimentation with synthesized vocals that attempts to emulate looking to the future. Pushing boundaries within their original sound and style is to be commended, as it keeps Thy Majestie as a unit sounding somewhat fresh, if not groundbreaking.

Fans are mixed on this one, with some claiming this is, in fact, a fantastic release. While I wouldn't go so far as to say that Dawn is a failure, it would be difficult to promote this as their best offering -- that honor goes to Hastings 1066 without question. My note on the lack of consistency in the first half may not be heard by the next listener, and maybe it was just my reaction. Thy Majestie overall is a very talented group of musicians despite their constantly evolving lineup, and they remain one of those bands that is difficult not to like. Even so, I would have to recommend this for existing fans, or diehard fans of symphonic power metal as a genre, looking to soak up as much material as they can hold.

Killing Songs :
To An Endless Devotion, Two Minutes Hate
Erik quoted 81 / 100
Other albums by Thy Majestie that we have reviewed:
Thy Majestie - ShiHuangDi reviewed by Olivier and quoted 79 / 100
Thy Majestie - Jeanne D'Arc reviewed by Ian and quoted 86 / 100
Thy Majestie - Echoes Of War reviewed by Marty and quoted no quote
Thy Majestie - Hastings 1066 reviewed by Chris and quoted 90 / 100
Thy Majestie - The Lasting Power reviewed by Danny and quoted 78 / 100
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