Majesties – Vast Reaches Unclaimed (20 Buck Spin)

Wednesday, 1st March 2023
Rating: 9.5 / 10

Here and there, one will come across a song from an unheard of (in this case, brand new) band that fully captivates to the point of near obsession. Thus was the case when 20 Buck Spin released the first single for the brand new collaboration Majesties, from their forthcoming debut Vast Reaches Unclaimed. Described as a love letter to the early days of Gothenburg-style melodic death metal, of course that made this writer pay close attention.

Formed by Obsequie’s Tanner Anderson and Inexorum’s Carl Skildum and Matthew Kirkwold, those familiar with those two quality bands (if not, change that) know they both contain a bevy of melodic death metal influences amongst their flavorful musical outputs. With that in mind, these esteemed musicians working together to create something in this realm is unsurprising. How’d they fare? In a word: majestically.

The album commences with “In Yearning, Alive,” flying out of the gate with massive guitar harmonies and melodies that wouldn’t sound out of place on the celebrated In Flames debut Lunar Strain. Tanner Anderson’s shrieks mix in perfectly with the guitar wizardry, providing a piercing scream that enhances all that’s happening around it. “The World Unseen” begins with another incisive and memorable lead mixed with crunchy rhythm guitars, with a slightly more downtrodden atmosphere, mixing the flavor slightly. This absolute earworm will be firmly entrenched in the listener’s head for quite some time. Next in line is “Our Gracious Captors,” which is lighter on the melody and more geared to punishing drum fills and a blackened tinge in the guitar work, tantamount to early Eucharist. The song ends with a phenomenal clean guitar piece that leads directly into “Verdant Paths to Radiance,” which is The Jester Race era manifested with the soloing and the sweeping, exalted songwriting.

A taste of the Obsequie’s aesthetic is present with “Across the Neverwhen,” while “Seekers of the Ineffable” offers a quick burst of death metal fury. “Sidereal Spire” dips into blackened melodic death territory, but more grandiose than the norm of that proclivity. “Temporal Anchor” gives an At the Gates meets Dark Tranquillity vibe, while “City of Nine Gates” chills with cold riffage ala classic Unanimated. Album closer “Journey’s End” begins with an eerie lead that traverses into a barrage of blast beats, with some whispered clean vocals that makes one think of moments on In Flames’ Colony, concluding with a sentimental acoustic number.

Mostly produced by the band themselves, and mixed by Adam Tucker, the collective group knew exactly the sound they wanted. What results is a fittingly raw, sharp, and crisp production with a mix that allows every aspect to shine and not dominate over anything else – a crucial point in presenting this style of music. The resultant quality here helps propel this debut to astonishing heights.

What Majesties have managed to do is create a release that encompasses everything that was fresh and exciting about the formation of melodic death metal, add in their own spin on the genre, and formulate a classic that will stand the test of time. The cold winters of Minnesota have suited these gentlemen well! Vast Reaches Unclaimed is a near flawless piece of music that is ingrained into this scribe’s brain, as it will many others. The melodies are infectious, vocals fierce, rhythm section pulsating, and songwriting as intricate as anything you’ll hear all year. We can wax poetic all day about Majesties, however, it’s time to give this another spin or a hundred.

Majesties on Bandcamp

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