Majestic really are a quietly special progressive rock act.
Through their last brace of albums 'Arrival' and 'Ataraxia', this US based band has graced us with music thoroughly meriting the name Majestic. With their latest offering 'V.O.Z.', which actually first emerged into the daylight at the tail end of last year, Majestic have gone the whole hog and created a double CD set containing a wide and varied selection of what falls under the banner "prog". In essence this is actually a one man project, Jeff Hamel writing all of the music and lyrics as well as playing all manner of guitars and keyboards, although Mike Kosecek provides percussion. A host of vocalists, David Cagle, Tara Morgan, Chris Hodges and Celine Derval, are however Hamel's secret weapon. The quartet adding a real depth to music that nods to the English traditional prog of Genesis or Yes, contains a hint of the more modern approach of Porcupine Tree or Spock's Beard, blusters through the (restrained) Metallic tendencies of Dream Theater, whilst having a keyboard focus reminiscent of some of Mike Oldfield's work.
Disc one is a ten part conceptual piece describing a journey (whether that be a physical or mental journey is open to the listener's interpretation), by utilising some ranging percussive work to lay the foundations from which Hamel consistently pits his precise guitar playing against his keyboard contributions. The results are quite superb, with the emotions evoked ranging from brash aggression to introspective beauty. 'VOZ-III Approaching Storm' shows off the instrumental forays to the max, while 'VOZ-V Whispers' allows Tara Morgan to fully extend her vocal powers, while the music adds an equally involving counterpoint.
Disc two offers another seven stand alone songs, with the less flowing style allowing for a few surprises, the likes of 'Becoming' booming into being on a riff that wouldn't be out of place on '1987' by Whitesnake, although the vocal from Celine Derval unfortunately struggles to match its potency. 'Hyperbole' lives up to its name, using screeching guitar bursts against angular keyboard stabs to superbly exaggerate its effects to the full, while 'Red Skies' brings this lengthy two disc excursion to a fitting close, the seventeen minute epic segueing from Jarre like synth pulses to a Zeppelin rifferama; Derval offering up a far more fitting vocal in the process.
Majestic really are a quietly special progressive rock act – let 'V.O.Z.' shout loud and proud to spread their word.