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Majestic: Monument

From the mind of songwriter and producer Jeff Hamel comes Monument, the latest in a long string of albums from progressive rock project Majestic. Jeff calls Majestic's approach to the genre "neo, space, or symphonic prog", which certainly seems apt, given the overall themes found within Monument, coupled with all of the various influences and grandiose delivery found within the confines of this 4 track behemoth of an album. Monument is aptly titled indeed, as all of the tracks here are monumentally long. The opening track (and hardest rocker of the 4) "Resist on High" is the shortest of the bunch at 11-plus minutes in length, with the title track bursting at the seams at 24 minutes long. This is not a listen for the more easily distracted among us, with plentiful ethereal and spacey breaks all throughout. When you cram 70 minutes of prog into 4 tracks, that's something you need to expect.

When Monument isn't being sparse, otherworldly, and mellow, the music found throughout the album is fairly standard issue prog rock with some surprisingly crunchy guitars. While far from a metal album, there's some heavy flourishes and even some double-kick drums to be found here and there. It's a welcome surprise when little bits and bobs like this find their way out of the speakers, and it contrasts nicely with all of the spacey keys and some of the more subdued vocal performances on the album. The second track, "Silent Horizons", does the best job here of 1-2 punching you with this genre polarity.

The vocals are certainly a talking point for this album as well, considering there's a small army of vocalists that handle mic duties here. There's a voice for all occasions on Monument, with soaring Dennis DeYoung-esque theatrical wailing, subdued and mellow indie-girl female vocals, and even a growl or two. You're certainly not left wanting when it comes to having the right voice for the right occasion, and all the vocalists do a pretty nice job here. Special shout out to the previously mentioned Dennis DeYoung soundalike and the Indie-Girl, as they both put on great performances in "Resist on High" and "Silent Horizons" respectively.

With solid performances and a few surprising elements, there's a lot to like here. This of course brings me to the elephant in the room, and that would be that this album is just so damn long. It's incredibly difficult to make 20 minute songs interesting and engaging the entire way through. Mr. Hamel has done a good job of putting a lot of neat and interesting parts into this absolute unit of an album, but I'd be lying if I said it's 70-plus minutes of mind bending artistic genius. The songs tend to take a little bit of time to get going, and there's the prerequisite extended acoustic and keyboard interludes that were never not going to be in a long prog rock opus like this. Overall though, there are some really nice melodies, contrasts, and individual performances on Monument that you'll never be waiting too long for something interesting to grab your attention.

Monument is a nifty listen for fans of prog rock of all stripes. Within the genre's fanbase there are certainly differing opinions on the benefits of song length and fitting as much stuff as possible into each track, so your mileage may vary when it comes to that. But all of that said, Hamel's crack team of vocalists and sincere songwriting has a lot of charm, and when Monument really starts rolling and delivers it's more impressive moments, it's hard to not be impressed. Would I have preferred a more focused and to the point album? Sure. But even then, I wouldn't want to neuter what is largely a pretty fascinating experience.

1. Resist on High
2. Silent Horizons
3. Legacy
4. Monument

Added: June 7th 2021
Reviewer: Brandon Miles
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 722
Language: english

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