Category Archives: Review

Majestic’s Epsilon Scores 8 out of 10 at DPRP!!! – “This is a very good album indeed and definitely worth checking out.”

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Majestic – Epsilon I
Majestic - Epsilon I
Country of Origin: U.S.A.
Format: CD
Record Label: independent
Catalogue #:  
Year of Release: 2014
Time: 54:41
Info: Majestic
Samples: Majestic website
Track List:
Chariots (11:10), Mother Dearest (9:29), Starlight (10:20), Epsilon I. Event Horizon (8:42), Epsilon II. Doorways (7:38), Epsilon III. Samskaras (7:22)

Jeff Hamel was the former guitarist in the American metal band Osmium in the 80s. The band existed for about ten years and after that Jeff took a long break from music. After that break he was fully charged again and ready to entertain everyone with his newly written material.

That music turned out to be quite progressive. It resulted in the album Descension (2007) and since then he has released a new album almost every year! In 2014 that has lead to the release of Epsilon I. The second part of this musical story called, surprisingly enough, Epsilon II will also be released this year. On the first Epsilon album, multi-instrumentalist Hamel (guitar, bass and keys) is assisted by his loyal companions Mike Kosacek (drums) and the vocalists David Cagle (Liberty & Justice), Celine Derval (Scythia) and Chris Hodges (Every Living Soul), who were also present on the 2012 album V.O.Z.

On this album, a vocalist we all know joins the ranks: Marc Atkinson (Riversea, Nine Stones Close andMandalaband). Hamel gets his inspiration from artists like Pink Floyd, Mike Oldfield, Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, Black Sabbath, Ayreon, The Alan Parsons Project and Joe Satriani. This leads to a mixture of styles such as progressive rock, metal, psychedelic rock, space rock and folk music. The songs all have a playing time from seven to more than eleven minutes, so there is plenty of time to mix all those influences in one track. Most important, what about this album? Is it any good? The answer to that question is a definite ‘Yes’.

Chariots is the first and longest track on the album and the track I like the least, mainly because I like the other vocalists more than Chris Hodges.

Mother Dearest has the typical organ sounds like bands in the 60s and 70s and on this track Celine Derval, the only female lead vocalist on the album, delights us with strong vocals. It develops into a quite heavy rock song, with psychedelic elements and towards the end there’s a nice sing-along chorus.

Starlight is the track where we can hear the pleasant voice of Marc Atkinson together with atmospheric sounds on the keyboards. His voice alone takes this track to an even higher level. In the last minutes of the track, Hamel gets some time to showcase his skills on guitar before the song fades out with the whispering voice of Atkinson.

The last three tracks can be seen as one title track. It’s a combination of the excellent singer David Cagle, some beautiful keyboard sounds and some stunning soloing on guitar by Hamel, especially in Epsilon II and III. Furthermore the recording sounds great, so we can conclude that Hamel has succeeded in making another great album that will be enjoyed by many proggers.

Conclusion: 8.5 out of 10

Majestic – Epsilon II
Majestic - Epsilon 2
Country of Origin: USA
Format: CD
Record Label: Majestic Songs
Catalogue #: n/a
Year of Release: 2014
Time: 62:00
Info: Majestic
Samples: Majestic at Bandcamp
Track List:
Epsilon IV – Generations (5:32), Epsilon V – The River (Eridanus) (10:30), Epsilon VI – Incandescence (7:49), Epsilon VII – Ancient Echo (5:12), Epsilon VIII – The Journey Back (6:10), Epsilon IX – Welcome Home (2:15), Epsilon X – Convergence (11:55), Epsilon XI – Rise (6:38) , Epsilon XII – Fade (6:07)

Having my own modest home studio, I’m always amazed at the quality of musicianship and compositional skills of basically amateur “bedroom musicians” who are just as good, or even better, than those who make a professional living out of music.

The main man behind this musical project, Jeff Hamel, is no exception. He is one very gifted musician and songsmith. Jeff is part of a recording project called Proximal Distance where he and fellow musician Gregg Johns (Slychosis) can collaborate over the internet. Check out http://www.progressiverockbr.com/monthaprilproximaldistance2010.html for more information.

It is hard to pigeon-hole this Minneapolis musical effort in terms of the progressive genre. It is an accretion of musical styles and influences, ranging from symphonic through to heavy metal, prog metal. I can hear shades ofTransatlantic, Porcupine Tree and Dream Theater. Neo-prog is probably the closest genre but there are many hues of symphonic and space rock sprinkled throughout as well.

Until having to review this CD, I’d never heard of Majestic. This is the second of a two-part space odyssey that’s loosely based upon the star Epsilon which forms part of the Eridanus (The River) constellation. The two CD concept tells the story of a primitive civilisation that worships its sun and discovers that its roots are from another, very distant world whose sun caused their demise. According to Jeff there are some other meanings built into the lyrics but it’s up to the listener to interpret them and to formulate their own meaning.

I think it was Magenta‘s Rob Reed who said that a great prog track can be reduced to a mediocre rendering, if an average vocal is used for the music. This is a mistake made by many “one man” bands. With Majestic this is thankfully not the case since the vocals on Epsilon 2 are bordering on excellent. There are three vocalists used on this album: Chris Hodges, Jessica Rasche and David Cagle.

Jessica sings lead vocals on track 6, the shortest song on the album, which reminded me of Mostly Autumn. A simple, melodic ballad which also features good harmonies over a busy guitar solo. Jessica has a very fine voice but I think using Chris and David as the main singers, gives the album some extra gravitas.

Chris appears to get the lion’s share of singing duties and has lead vocals on tracks 2, 3, 7 and 8 – and boy does he have a great voice. For example in track 7, Epsilon X – Convergence he sings a beautiful, heart-felt delivery as if the lyrics have some personal meaning. This song is exceptional neo-prog. It slowly builds into a crescendo of sound with some great guitar playing before suddenly entering a sort of jazzy interlude, before the crescendo resumes with more menace: aggressive sounding vocals, power chords over good drumming. This, for me, is the best track on the album.

David sings on two tracks: 4 and 7. Once again his is another great voice. I don’t know how Jeff chooses between them for singing duties. Track 4 opens with cinematic synth strings before David enters. Once again a superb vocal delivery that simply takes this song up a few notches. In parts he is accompanied by electric piano and jangly guitar. The songs end with some very neat percussion. A great track.

There is plenty of scintillating guitar work from Jeff throughout the album. Probably the best, is his solo in track 7, which just fits the music perfectly and enters at the right moment. On keys, Jeff is very competent but personally I would have appreciated more up-front synth and organ solos in the vein of Neal Morse. Jeff conjures up some great atmospheric and aural delights on all of the songs with his guitar and keyboard playing.

Mike Kosacek’s drumming is very good on this album and it certainly adds to the dynamics of the material. He excels in many songs but for me his best work is in track 8. This song is probably the rockiest of the album and features more great guitar work from Jeff. Not my favourite track, but I can see other progsters who like Deep Purple andRush enjoying this song. Although the bass playing is OK over the whole album, and on a negative note, I felt it was a bit subdued and never really given any prominence in the mix. It would have been great to hear some Geddy Lee type bass runs to give the music some more gravitas.

Although Track 1 has the type pf symphonic opening that a band like Transatlantic would be proud of, it then enters a prolonged heavy power chord-driven phase which would have worked for me if the drumming and bass playing had been a bit more inventive to keep me interested.

Initially, while listening to the first track, I thought that this band was going to be a contradiction in musical terms, in the sense that they weren’t sure what they were or wanted to be and thus I was going to be disappointed. However, everything that followed made for enjoyable listening.

This is a very good album indeed and definitely worth checking out. I take my hat off to Jeff, and his efforts to create something very magical. As for the old DPRP neo-prog-come-symphonic Prog-o-meter, I score this a very respectable 8.

Conclusion: 8 out of 10

 

V.O.Z. Review appears in Progressive Newsletter #77 – “This is a very colorful and varied album – more of this, please!”

PNL

 

 

PNL 77

 

MAJESTIC – VOZ  (58:10, 58:51, 2012, Private)

 

When this album had been in my CD player for the first time, I thought I was listening to some kind of sampler CD with bands playing in different musical genres. But I was completely wrong. („Far from it“.)  I am talking about a band with the name MAJESTIC, and the term „band“ is not really correct, because in principle this is a duo providing an enormously fat sound sometimes reminding me of the Dutch band Ayreon. It is even less, because  you can reduce it to one name who’s behind this project: Jeff Hamel. The music this American multi-talent is offering earns my highest respect. Hats off!  First of all Hamel is an excellent guitarist, playing varied styles and being a great performer in all these different genres. The keyboards are perfectly fitting – no surprise, because it’s Hamel himself also playing the keys. Next bonus (or asset?): the rhythm is not being programmed, instead there’s an excellent drummer named Mike Kosacek. Moreover, there are four singers being responsible for the vocal parts. Voices are good and another element making this a good album. CD1 starts with a spheric intro and a slight keltic influence – indeed sounding somehow „majestic“.  The rest of the CD consists of the title track which is separated into ten sections. Whether you take this song or the complete second CD – the variety of the presented stuff is really impressive. There’s mainstream AOR with catchy melodies, excursions into prog-metal genre, powerful symphonic rock, fusion, psychedelic rock, space rock – you get it all. And it does not sound like pure chaos, in contrast this is put together in a very clever way.

Just as an example: let’s take the song „hyperbole“ from CD 2. At the beginning it reminds me a lot of PORCUPINE TREE, in a later section it sounds completely different, like a new version of an instrumental excursion within the legendary „solar music“ song by German krautrock legend GROBSCHNITT. This is a very colourful and varied album – more of this, please!

 

 

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Jürgen Meurer 

Review – V.O.Z. – Your Music Blog – “It is just as if all this variety takes you on a journey and makes you dream of distant shores (or whatever your favourite destination is) and you just never wanna leave…”

Original Link

 

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Majestic, V.O.Z., 2012

Published January 23, 2013 | By Peter Cox

majestic - v.o.z.

American musician (guitars and keyboards) Jeff Hamel serves up another tasty bite of what is maybe best described as ambient progressive rock. And it is not that my project Forest Field operates in about the same field, that I like this. No, Jeff has been releasing albums for quite some time now and this double disk shows how accomplished he is. Together with Mike Kosacek on drums and percussion and vocalists David Cagle, Tara Morgan, Chris Hodges and Celine Derval, these two compact disks feature a wide range of songs with a lot of shifts in style and moods. Short songs or epics, all material is as good as it sounds.

And where I sometimes complain that epics feel patched, Hamel´s body of work always is organic and logical. Which is absolutely not the same as predictable. Despite of all the mood shifts and influences I got sucked in right away. The quiet parts are often hauntingly beautiful and send shivers down your spine. And it does not matter if it is instrumental or vocal! Also the more rocking bits still fit the overall feel of the album. It is just as if all this variety takes you on a journey and makes you dream of distant shores (or whatever your favourite destination is) and you just never wanna leave…

So very impressed by this music and I fully recommend it to people into progressive rock and or more ambient sounds.

 

Review – Arrival from Prog-résiste issue 59 – “Arrival is, I think, what prog should be”

Arrival Review PDF

Translated via Google.

Arrival cover

Majestic
Arrival
Mals – 77’32 – USA ’09 Progressive
OD9 e-AW7 make no mistake,
Arrival is the third album from Majestic. This is, unfortunately, the first album, Descension, this group (then) consists of a single man, Jeff Hamel, was recently published as a CD. He had never been so far favors a real pressing and had been offered to the ears of fans of the Majestic project in the form of a CD-R. Third album and therefore slight change of course for Jeff Hamel. Shift because for the first time, Arrival, Jeff indulges without restraint and without direction making music he loves, and it shows in well, let’s immediately. For this third installment, he Deputy longer support a singer, Jessica Rasche, whose vocal qualities, do not hesitate to say, will blend compositions Hamel. Arrival is an album markedly different from its two predecessors. We feel most successful and free of any constraint. The album begins with a very long piece over 22 minutes. Prog fans, you’re already used immediately! Gray is a long composition that flirts between Pink Floyd (with beautiful guitar solos very Gilmouriens) Porcupine Tree (its trippy atmospheres and melancholic) and Ayreon through the beautiful voice of Jessica timbre similar to that of Anneke van Giersbergen and Metal guitar riffs to Lucassen. Gray is followed by two shorter titles, Wish and Glide, the first in Pop-Rock tone, and the second rocked by metal riffs, classic but effective where again, singing Rasche shows the great talent of this artist. The album ends with another long composition more than 36 minutes (really, if you want a concept album, there has to ask), Arrival, the title which gives its name to the album (you will note in passing that if the compositions are long against their securities are concise enough …). Arrival is, I think, what prog should be: a long piece, varied, rich in different atmospheres, jerking breaks, all on complex melodies. One could cite several references to the listening of this title as Pink Floyd, Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, Genesis, Ayreon, Yes, I could go on and best. But what emerges is qu’Arrival is a splendid composition as actually Prog ultimately less. The third test Jeff Hamel is a great achievement that I advise you to listen!
http / / www.majesticsongs.com
Alex Willem

Review: VOZ from Still Life – “A true masterpiece where heart and soul is inserted. This you can not miss.”

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This article is translated via Google. 

Majestic VOZ New Hot

Written by Kemna January 02, 2013
Majestic VOZ

ALBUM INFO

Release Date December 2012
Label Self Released
Majestic 
New Album VOZ 
Right at the end of 2012 a real surprise with a sublime album from Majestic. After almost 2 years of waiting, this fantastic progressive rock double CD VOZ 
But before we go first for all readers and writers, a fantastic swinging musical in 2013 and make it desirable again together something beautiful.Unfortunately, in recent years we are not spoiled with music of the highest quality from the progressive rock angle, but this new Majestic, a band from the U.S., is a class apart in this genre. 
Though the announcement over 1 year ago done on the website of the band, it was still a long wait. My first experience with Majestic in 2009 with the CD Arrival. A plate consisting of 4 numbers whose last number Arrival up over 36 minutes. In 2010 this album was followed by a little harder, denser CD Ataraxia. Labyrinth, released in 2011 gave a bit more in the direction the band was unfolding, less firm with more symphonic influences. 
And now the new album VOZ A beautiful plate in the Symphonic Rock genre. 
The album was produced by Jeff Hamel with a completely new line-up. 
Jeff Hamel plays all the guitars and keyboards, Mike Kosacek on drums and percussion. He also has the full line-up of singers replaced by David Cagle, Tara Morgan, Chris Hodges and Celine Derval. 
The opening track, In Memory of .. begins with the sound of the old Irish bagpipe which is complemented by a, what looks, full orchestra. A sound that you right on target and will not let go. The first CD is a complete track opus 10 parts. VOZ 1, The New World, makes it clear what the new sound is what the band pursues. The glittered guitar solos and bass Jeff Hamel is truly a treat that is complemented by the beautiful keyboard work. 
The song Whispers, one of the best songs on this CD sung by Tara Morgan, is like the jazzy guitar solos, the soft key and drumming merges with the vocals, goosebumps. VOZ VI Freefall opens with fantastic flute followed by eerie keys and guitar playing. A musical switch on the CD that you often hear on records of, for example Genesis. CD2, Zosimos sleeps almost a harpsichord opening with flute and violin. It is a short instrumental interlude before the Action erupts again. Becoming begins on the classic Hammond followed by synths and bombastic drumming, you’re right back on track. The guitar and keyboards work is of high quality, a pleasure to listen to. Hyperbole The song sounds like you’re suddenly at a concert of Rush aanbelandt are. Edged guitars, pounding drums and a booming bass makes you think back to the 70s of Rush. If you are the last notes of this double CD you listened you realize that this is a true magnum opus was. Everything you could wish for, long instrumental solos, strong vocals, powerful drums and screaming guitars to beautiful symphonic synth work, it’s all there. For fans of this genre that Majestic not know, this is a wonderful CD to your collection with to start. And for those who know Majestic, this album really hits all 6 previous albums, a true masterpiece where heart and soul is inserted. This you can not miss.