Album Review: Majesties — “Vast Reaches Unclaimed”

I am not shy of being vocal on and around this site about not liking melodic death metal. This, however, is not entirely the truth, and is an oversimplification of my larger feelings on the topic. You see, I do love a lot of melodic death metal…just next to nothing that the genre is putting out in recent years. Give me a little Jester Race or Slaughter of the Soul though, and I am very much in my happy place. The classic sound of melodic death metal’s early incarnations have so much soul and life in them compared to the kinds of overly dour, riffless fare modern melodeath bands seem content to carbon copy from one another ad nauseam. Enter Minnesota’s Majesties and their debut release Vast Reaches Unclaimed, which pulls directly from the lineage of those halcyon days of the subgenre’s beginnings to remind one and all what melodic death metal should be.


It should come as no surprise to anyone that the band that has reinvigorated my enthusiasm for melodic death metal comes from a blended family of members of Obsequiae and Inexorum, two bands that I cannot and will not stop singing praises for. Both of these acts put melodicism front and center in their music, and the three members coming together to create an old-school melodic death metal album in the vein of the Scandinavian greats feels like the logical end point for them to come to. Yet an album like Vast Reaches Unclaimed is not mere nostalgia worship, but a much needed shot in the arm for a genre that has come to overproduce and underdeliver. Too often modern melodeath puts its focus on crafting a slick production job, with its impeccably triggered double bass drumming, overly gloomy ambiance, and far too much emphasis on The Big Chorus. It all feels wimpy, sad, and it misses the entire essence of what made melodic death metal so well beloved in the first place. Melodic death metal is, at its core, death metal. And death metal, well…

So much attention is paid to what these newer albums sound like that it feels like the songwriting is an afterthought. Vast Reaches Unclaimed is not such an album. Here, the Power of the Riff is what drives this album forward from minute one with an incredible intensity. Vast Reaches Unclaimed is an album that feels more alive and exciting to listen to than any I have heard from a melodeath band in longer than I can remember. It’s packed full of genuine grit and emotion without sacrificing an ounce of aggression along the way. Tracks like lead single “The World Unseen,” “Seekers of the Ineffable,” and “City of Nine Gates” are stuffed to the gills with the kind of guitar work that makes me want to (and feel like I would be able to) punch through solid concrete, much the same way that I felt that first time I heard “Artifacts of the Black Rain” so many years ago. It is a true testament to the songwriting abilities of Anderson, Skildum, and Kirkwold to be able to deftly weave and balance the exuberant and the devastatingly heavy, but such is their commitment to keeping the true light of melodeath from fading completely in a sea of monochrome grey.

I think the highest praise I could give Vast Reaches Unclaimed is that it is being released mere weeks after a brand new In Flames album, arguably one of the biggest influences on Majesties’ sound, and I like this album leagues more. Hate me if you want, but I will be standing by this opinion from now until the sun goes out. This feels like the performance of a lifetime from three individuals who already do not have a bad album under their collective belts. Expect to see this on my year end list.


Vast Reaches Unclaimed will be available March 3rd on LP, Tape, CD, and digitally through 20 Buck Spin. For more information on Majesties, as well as choice melodeath memes, visit the band’s Instagram page.

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