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Thy Majestie – ‘Shi Huang Di’

This Sicilian combo have been hanging around the edges (sic) of the European power/symphonic metal scene for a little over a decade now, occasionally threatening to move further into the spotlight dominated especially some of their countrymen through offerings such as their two under-rated concept albums to date, ‘Hastings 1066’ and ‘Jeanne d’Arc’, released in 2002 and 2005 respectively.

Now, after dalliances elsewhere, Thy Majestie return to the Scarlet Records stable with this third concept opus – this time based around the story of the legendary Chinese emperor Ying Zheng, the man credited with ending the period of the Warring States in the Third Century BC and first uniting the country as a single entity (who needs this new national baccalaureate thing when you’ve got PM to educate you?).

As with its subject matter, this is an album which is epic in sweep – and just as effective in its delivery.  From the opening overture of ‘Zhoogguo’, which would not sound out of place at the beginning of a Zhang Yimou flick through the sweep of ‘Seven Reigns’, the power of ‘Siblings Of Tian’ – with its suitably fiery twin guitar solos and soaring anthemic chorus – to the battlefield thump of ‘Walls Of The Emperor’, the first half of the album only sets the scene for the majesty of the tale that unfolds in the second part…

‘Under The Same Sky’ sweeps into view with the power of an invading army but the humility of a true emperor, its riff and melodies twisting and turning in the mien of the conflicts which besets the album’s subject matter – he was crowned emperor at the tender age of 13 and imprisoned his mother for daring to impugn his ability to reign.

Highlight track is the beautiful ‘Farewell’:  it starts with a haunting solo female voice, moves into a brief choral section which is in turn interrupted by a crunching guitar line, which quickly gives way to a haunting vocal from Alessio Taormina, counterparted by the opening female harmonic.  Slowly, it speeds up, building round another stab-stun-stab riff from Simone Campione, accompanied by a suitably harmonic keyboard line from Giuseppe Carrubba, before the former delivers a nigh on perfectly brief solo, after which the song winds up in wonderfully atmospheric style with a reprise of the opening haunt.

This is an epic album addressing an epic subject.  It does have a few flaws, mirroring the material perhaps, but, like the emperor who became known as Shi Huang Di, it succeeds…

[8/10]

Track list:

  1. Zhoogguo
  2. Seven Reigns
  3. Harbinger Of A New Dawn
  4. Siblings Of Tian
  5. Walls Of The Emperor
  6. Under The Same Sky
  7. Farewell
  8. Huang Hun
  9. Ephemeral
  10. End Of The Days
  11. Requiem

‘ShiHuangDi’ is out now on Scarlet Records and available by clicking the Amazon link below.

About Mark Ashby

no longer planetmosh staff