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Majestic: Arrival

Majestic is the project formed by multi-instrumentalist Jeff Hamel. My first experience with the artist's music was the album Descension which I thought was a good listen. I am happy to say the new release entitled Arrival blows that one out of the water. Hamel has outdid himself this time around. While Hamel has a pleasant enough voice, I felt the vocals were somewhat lacking with the Descension album. On the new release Hamel has brought in the vocal talents of Jessica Rasche who has an excellent voice totally suited to Hamel's style of progressive rock. Hamel adds some of his own vocal touches taking the occasional lead and adding backing vocals. Hamel combines elements of neo, heavy prog and symphonic rock, blending them together to make a delicious musical concoction. There is a good mixture of heavy and light moments that showcases the excellent musicianship of Hamel. While Hamel is still influenced by bands like Porcupine Tree and Pink Floyd he is really starting to develop his own style on Arrival.

Although there are only four tracks, there is over seventy-five minutes of music thanks to a couple of monster epics bookending this release. The album starts with "Gray", an ambitious opening number that sets the tone for what is to come. From softer sections to hard edged progressive rock this song has a lot to offer prog fans recalling moments of Porcupine Tree. Hamel's vocal work is quite good as he seems to have matured in this area. My favourite song has to be the thirty-six minute title track that closes out the CD in fine fashion. With its soaring lead guitar solos, ala Gilmour, beautiful layered female vocals, spoken word samples and at times a darker electronic vibe, this song is epic with a capitol e. It is so good in fact I barely noticed where the time had gone. Sandwiched in between are two tracks that are also of a very high caliber.

Arrival does not feel like a one man band in the slightest. The sound is so rich and full it is hard to believe this is the work of one man. This is an album I highly recommend. Arrival is truly majestic in every sense of the word.

Track Listing:
1. Gray (22:38)
2. Wish (9:12)
3. Glide (9:36)
4. Arrival (36:04)

Added: October 16th 2009
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist's Official Site
Hits: 3652
Language: english

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Majestic: Arrival
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-10-16 06:23:13
My Score:

If I was to be honest, when you receive a CD to review that has a single page cover and a cheap looking design on the disc itself that all suggests extremely low budget stuff and then go on to discover that the band in question, namely Majestic, is a one man project with help from a singer. Then on top of that you notice that the disc contains only four songs, all of which are over nine minutes long, two at around the half hour mark, then it would be fair to suggest that I first approached Arrival with some trepidation.

Unlike my colleague Jon, this is my first brush with Majestic and after getting over my initial impressions the only thing I can say is boy have I been missing out!

Jeff Hamel is an impressive master of many instruments; however his guitar work is flawless throughout. Ranging from dreamy, atmospheric passages to sharp incisive work outs and including most else in between, all the guitar work is of the highest standard and slowly but surely draws you into the joys held within this album.

There are many reference points on the disc, however I would have to agree that Porcupine Tree and Pink Floyd loom large on most of the music, however they do so without on the whole over shadowing it, although there are moments on the 36 minute epic title track, where you are checking the song writing credits to see if Dave Gilmour dropped in on the sessions. That in itself is no bad thing when the mix of the spoken word parts, wonderful vocals and the sublime guitar solos interlink to make the outcome is as impressive as it is.

That's not to diminish what is also achieved elsewhere on Arrival as there really is no point where the standard drops below excellent. Each of the four tracks are engaging and interesting in equal measure, with Hamel not putting a foot wrong at any turn. It is also to his credit that he has brought the wonderful Jessica Rasche and board to compliment his vocals with her fragile yet confident voice knowing when to blend with its surroundings and when to shine through and dominate for a while.

Hamel is also an extremely deft keyboard player. The album is swathed in atmospheric keys which lift the satisfyingly simple moments to melodic spells that captivate you with their beauty.

Majestic have put together a quite wonderful progressive album with Arrival that will appeal to those who lap up music from the current crop of prog's leading lights, or those who still hanker for the genres past glories.

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