Tommy Johansson is a busy guy and all-around multi-talent; throughout the better part of this century the Swede has been hunting high and low in power metal combos of all fashions and on all fronts, as a vocalist, guitarist and keyboard magician. Up until 2016 only known to a smaller audience thanks to among specialists beloved, yet on a larger scale not extremely impactful bands ReinXeed and Golden Resurrection, he joined audience of all styles appealing Sabaton as guitar wizard in said year. At this point, his melodic metal child ReinXeed had been abandoned for about three years after a rather mediocre A New World. It seemed as though the band that previously released close to one album a year ran out of steam. All the more fitting that workaholic Johansson decided to refurbish his love for fast melodic metal and restarted ReinXeed‘s journey with a new name: Majestica was born.
A keen mathematical mind might have been able to extrapolate that it has been six years since Tommy Johansson’s solo band’s last release, thus his followers might be wondering whether his songwriting preferences have been changed by joining Sabaton towards a more easily approachable style of metal, or he is still the same old speed freak.
I didn’t go out of my way to calculate the average of BPMs throughout Above The Sky, but the opening track “Above The Sky” sweeps away all need for analysis; following a crazy bass lick, a thunderstorm of double kick drumming and riffs faster than anything you heard before breaks loose out to destroy your audio equipment. You don’t consider how much you missed something until you experience it again, and Johansson’s vocals soaring higher than Elon Musk’s weird space car and his faster than light songwriting are certainly an adventure missed by many fans of this man’s melodic speed metal. Songs like “The Rat Pack”, “The Way To Redemption” and “Alliance Forever” will gladly satisfy anyone looking for Dragonforce levels of tempo, not to mention Majestica‘s classic larger than life epic power metal choruses in the vein of Stratovarius hits like “Hunting High And Low” or “Eagleheart”.
Thanks to a healthy amount of self-aware lyrics and playful melodies and influences Majestica avoids the dragons, swords and wizards power metal cliché which contrasts pleasantly with the band members older, at times more risky music. Vanguard of silliness here is “Father Time”, in no way related to Stratovarius‘ song of the same name and instead a lunatic ride through genres from Queen to cancan and wacky lyrics with which no other band would dare to go through.
On a last note, ReinXeed fans were used to some questionable sound production choices in the past. Fortunately, Above The Sky received a veritably handsome mixing and mastering which finally makes the band’s energy shine, especially when it comes to a powerful drum sound and searing guitars.
All is good again in Majestica kingdom. Above The Sky will meet every single fans expectations of speedy, driving melodic metal prone to catchy choruses. While most ReinXeed records were top notch albums, I dare say Above The Sky sees Tommy Johansson at the top of his game as the best output in his career – for now, until the next album?