Review – Epsilon 2 – Progarchives (4.5 out of 5) – “The two Epsilon discs are truly excellent, this is great music to gaze at the stars.”






PAlogo_v2Epsilon 2


The golden “Epsilon 2” is the natural follow-up to the blueish “Epsilon 1”, perhaps intended originally as a double album but any sane artist understands that releasing two double albums one behind the other can be artistic suicide. In 2012, Jeff Hamel released “V.O.Z.”, a stunning 2 disc set of volcanic proportions, a sensational heavy neo-prog recording that garnered rave reviews and a whole lot of adulation from Progland and even beyond. The first Epsilon chapter was a delightful package, a hefty mix of cosmic power prog a la Ayreon, some ambient splendor blended with outright heavy metal rifferama, wah-wah pyrotechnics and a cameo by terrific Brit singer Marc Atkinson (Riversea, Nine Stones Close). In fact the vocal display was quite extraordinary. Well this chapter keeps the coals burning bright, as guitarist/keyboardist Hamel and mega- drummer Mike Kosacek continue their rocket-fueled journey through the cosmos, with a flight crew of talented vocalists, namely helium-lunged Chris Hodges, the equally adept David Cagle and recurrent female vocalist Jessica Rasche.

“Generations” is a plodding opener which serves only to warm up the speakers, nothing overtly special or memorable. Soft, hard, soft structured instrumental that gets the juices flowing. The mood really takes off on the bruising “The River”, a 10 minute ride into outer space, shuffling guitars clang along unbridled, Chris Hodges crooning passionately, with a Hamel guitar riff that will make you flex your muscles. Subtle little shift then swerves this in an another direction, a sweet tone and liquid guitar leading the way, entirely riveting as Hodges looks beyond the stars , looking for answers. Lush choir synths maintain the splendiferous urgency as the fluid pace gets progressively heftier and more penetrating. Hamel manhandles his fret board, doing unthinkable thinks along its neck, strangling wild notes as they expel from the smoking amplifiers. Things get rabid, angry and insane rather rapidly, we are in space truckin’ after all.

The vibrant “Incandescence” is where things really heat up, the lava spurts becoming sulfurous and yet shrouded in eloquent cosmic beauty. Jaunty shreds of guitar slashes, pooling electric piano and slithering synths introduce Cagle’s higher pitched rant, a phenomenal voice not too far from Foreigner’s Lou Gramm. Hamel flings a monster guitar solo that hisses like some cosmic cat gone AWOL, with tons of effects, whirls and twirls amid the softer dream sections, celestial splendour with Cagle seizing the microphone and hitting all the high notes. Swirling sequencer-led electronics shove this craft into the twilight zone. Very nice indeed.

“Ancient Echoes” is introduced with an unexpected synthesized orchestra, deeply resonating like some Richard Strauss outtake, with Hodges pleading heavily amid more electric piano shimmers and clanging guitar squeals. The mood is definitely cosmic space rock, a modern rock adventure that reaches for the distant stars and serves as perfect escapist music but with balls. Great tune. Things get technical and hectic on the warp-speed propulsed “The Journey Back”, a chance for Kosacek to show off some serious bashing while Hamel unleashes a barrage of gritty sound that has a slight Deep Purple feel. This is an instrumental platform that permits the two musicians to show off their rather considerable chops as well as scouting out new sounds (the grunting guitar is quite impressive, Jeff), with layered flying synth carpets gliding the rhythm along, spiriting forward, boldly.

The sweet “Welcome Home” is too damn short, I really admire Jessica’s vocals but each second is precious enough. Acoustic guitar, piano, drum beat and Rasche’s voice are all just sublime. I would have loved to see this one a bit more extended with denser arrangements and a longer solo.

The longest piece is “Convergence”, a nearly 12 minute affair, built like a solar-fueled ballad that goes in all kinds of nebulous quadrants, then slings past whooshing asteroids, skirting the odd space debris , getting metalloid when approaching a moon and scouring the dark space ahead. The cataclysmic mid-section is growl heavy and guitar raging, almost psychotic (sci-fi-cotic?) and proves to be the most developed piece here. Hodges again shows off some angry lungs , to say the least.

“Rise” is a guitar-centric musical erection, nasty and loud, brash and bullying. The stuff Hamel and Kosacek do verge on sheer , weightless acrobatics, this will certainly appeal to the metal heads out there, as there is some serious head banging rage going on, with a mid-section that features a bizarre bubbly synth spot, a sadistic bass rumble, akimbo drums and a measured return to the original lunacy, axes grinding hard and fast. Think Deep Purple again but heavier. Chris Hodges is not a happy camper, which is good.

The disc ends with the more symphonic “Fade”, led by a slurring organ and aurora borealis-like orchestrations that include walls of electric guitars and tectonic drumming. The superb lead solo will cause quite a few eyebrows to raise in unison, a strong lyrical sizzle that will appeal to all six-string fanatics. Intense, fiery and yet very original. Love this one!

The two Epsilon discs are truly excellent, worthy successors of the VOZ marvel. I will have issues with the neo moniker, as this seems more space or heavy prog to me. Labelling notwithstanding, this is great music to gaze at the stars.

4.5 celestial Nebulas

Special Collaborator
Crossover Team

Original Link


Review – Epsilon 1 – : “I was out of breath after the first few listenings!! YOU MUST HEAR THIS!!”



Epsilon 1

Mastermind and multi musician Jeff Hamel (guitars & Keyboards) once again leads his band of brilliant co-horts into the realm of pomp, symphonic prog and power rock!!

Starting of with: “Chariots” beginning with counter notes, soon to become a high powered prog/metallic tune! A very good start of this album (indeed any album!) with a towering musical crescendo and an interlude that point out the brilliance of the chosen invited guest vocal! Yes, Hamel have invited superb guest vocalist´s such as: Chris Hodges/Celine Derval/and the brilliant: Marc Atkinson (Nine Stones Close..amongt others) and David Gagle! This is an album that is full of brilliant prog tunes, with tendency to pomp/power rock!! Yes..just like we love it!!

The production is top notch, the sound clear and crisp!

This is an almost perfect sounding release, with musical delivery of the utmost high class! With diversity, stylish arrangements and superb tunes!

As you have gathered, since the tittle of this delicate release is: EPSILON 1.

There is an EPSILON 2 !!? Indeed there are and a review coming!!

Meanwhile enjoy this excellent album! A perfect way to start your day and a perfect way to enjoy yet another brilliant prog/pomp/power rock album!

Jeff Hamel delivers absolutely brilliant guitars and keyboard themes along the way!

To be honest, there is nothing as such, new here, but man what an album !! I was out of breath after the first few listenings!! YOU MUST HEAR THIS!!

Tonny Larsen

January 16, 2015

Review (French) from (4/5 Stars)- Instrumental Collection – “Instrumental Collection is a very good compilation, not a single boring moment, it makes you want to dive into the other albums from Majestic.”


Chronique de Instrumentals Collection

(English Translation below)

Original Link

Genre CD
Groupe Majestic
Album Instrumentals Collection
Label autoproduction
Année 2015
  • Spirits Dwell – instrumental
  • Dance of the Elders – instrumental
  • The Journey Back – instrumental
  • Modus Operandi 7 – instrumental
  • Becoming (Reprise) – instrumental
  • Astral Dream – instrumental
  • Rise to the Surface – instrumental
  • Skies Clear – instrumental
  • Doorways – instrumental
  • Hyperbole – instrumental
Invités :Mike Kosacek – Batterie
John Wooten – batterie (sur 2 & 6)
Celine Derval – chant (sur 5)
Jessica Rasche – chant (sur 6)Majestic est un projet solo rétro progressif fondé en 2006 à Minneapolis par Jeff Hamel. Prog symphonique, psychédélique, atmosphérique, voila le programme avec sept albums à son actif.

Instrumental Collection est une compilation des morceaux instrumentaux composés par Jeff sur ses précédents albums. Elle est sortie le 1er janvier 2015 sur Bandcamp. Dix morceaux explorant bien des facettes du rock progressif des 70’s à nos jours et plus de soixante-dix minutes de musique très variée de fait.


Jeff est multi-instrumentaliste, la seule chose qu’il ne fait pas, c’est chanter. Avec lui, Mike Kosacek et John Wooten à la batterie et deux voix sur “Becoming” avec Celine Derval et sur “Astral Dream”, Jessica Rasche. Claviers, guitares et basse sont joués par Jeff.

J’avais téléchargé l’album par curiosité, histoire d’y jeter une oreille, et puis, un après-midi pluvieux, j’ai écouté le disque d’un bout à l’autre et décidé qu’il fallait le chroniquer. A la base, le prog instrumental, ça ne m’emballe que moyennement, décrochant trop vite par manque de rebondissements. Là, comme il s’agit d’une compilation, les morceaux n’ont pas de lien entre eux, vous parcourez la carrière de J. Hamel, un voyage temporel et musical, avec de nombreux styles qui se succèdent et qui par le fait, est très varié.

Progressif, jazzy, psychédélique, cinématique, alternatif, métal progressif, les univers parcourus sont nombreux.
“Spirits Dwell”, après un démarrage prog, vous convie à du rock atmosphérique. “Dance of the Elders”, tiré de Ataraxia, emprunte des éléments de folk transposés à la guitare façon Mike Oldfield. Le titre est plus remuant sans se déchaîner quand même et vers la seconde moitié, il vire au psyché expérimental bon enfant. Huit minutes riches de rebondissements. Avec “Journey Home”, on vire au rétro prog avec un bon gros son des familles et une partition à la batterie de très bonne facture. “Modus Operandi 7” est dans la veine du canterbury avec son piano et sa guitare jazzy, encore une fois la batterie de Mike brille de mille feux. Il y a quelque chose de Porcupine Tree dans la partie rythmique, virtuose et réellement excellente. “Becoming” est l’une des rares pièces où le chant fait brièvement une apparition avec la voix de Celine Derval (du groupe Scythia). Sur “Astral Dream” c’est Jessica Rache que l’on entend, là également très brièvement à la fin du morceau. “Rise to the Surface” prend son temps, une pièce qui met pas loin de trois minutes à culminer, guitares et claviers à l’honneur. Il ne s’achève pas vraiment et se poursuit sur “Skies Clear”, le petit morceau de cette compilation, un titre dans l’esprit de Vangelis, tiré de l’album V.O.Z.. “Doorways” provient de Epsilon. Un morceau cinématique où la guitare est en avant pour une fois. “Hyperbole”, qui clôt ce recueil, est le titre métal progressif, tiré lui aussi de V.O.Z., c’est également la piste la plus longue, rien en comparaison de “Red Ships” qui termine le même album.

Instrument Collection est une très bonne compilation, pas ennuyeuse un seul instant, elle donne envie de se plonger dans les autres albums de Majestic. A découvrir gratuitement en mp3 128 sur le site de Majestic et pour les audiophiles, vous l’aurez avec un bon son pour cinq dollars sur Bandcamp.

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Translated by google:

Majestic is a progressive retro solo project founded in 2006 in Minneapolis by Jeff Hamel. Symphonic prog, psychedelic, atmospheric, here is the program with seven albums to his credit. Instrumental Collection is a compilation of instrumental pieces composed by Jeff on his previous albums. It was released on January 1, 2015 on Bandcamp. Ten pieces exploring many facets of the progressive rock of the 70’s to today and over seventy minutes of music is very varied. Jeff is a multi-instrumentalist, the only thing it does not do is sing. With him, Mike and John Wooten Kosacek on drums and two voices “Becoming” with Celine Derval and “Astral Dream”, Jessica Rasche. Keyboards, guitars and bass are played by Jeff. I downloaded the album out of curiosity, just to throw an ear there and then, one rainy afternoon, I listened to the disc from one end to the other and decided that it had to review. Basically, the instrumental prog, it does excites me moderately, winning too fast for lack of twists. There, as it is a compilation, the songs have no link between them, browsing the career of J. Hamel, a temporal and musical journey, with many styles which follow and by the fact , is very varied. Progressive, jazzy, psychedelic, kinematics, alternative, progressive metal, universes covered are numerous. “Spirits Dwell” after starting a prog, invites you to the atmospheric rock. “Dance of the Elders”, taken from Ataraxia, borrows folk elements transposed guitar so Mike Oldfield. The title is stirring lash anyway and towards the second half, he turns good-experimental psyche. Eight minutes rich twists. With “Journey Home”, it turns retro prog with a big sound families and a partition to the battery of very good quality. “Modus Operandi 7” is in the vein of Canterbury with its piano and jazzy guitar, again battery Mike sparkles. There is something Porcupine Tree in the rhythm, virtuoso and really excellent. “Becoming” is one of the few parts where singing briefly an appearance with the voice of Celine Derval (from Scythia group). On “Astral Dream” is Jessica Rache is meant also there very briefly at the end of the song. “Rise to the Surface” takes its time, a piece that not put away three minutes to peak, guitars and keyboards in the spotlight. It does not really completed and continues on “Clear Skies”, the small piece of this compilation, a title in the spirit of Vangelis, taken from the album VOZ. “Doorways” comes from Epsilon. A cinematic piece where the guitar is ahead for once. “Hyperbole” which closes this collection, is the progressive metal title shot him also VOZ, it is also the longest run, nothing compared to “Red Ships” which ends the album.Instrument Collection is a very good compilation, not a single boring moment, it makes you want to dive into the other albums from Majestic. Discover free mp3 128 on the Majestic site and audiophiles, you will have good sound for five dollars on Bandcamp.

Epsilon 2 appears in Empire Magazine – German



In Heft Nummer 106 wurde Epsilon 1 bespro- chen, ist also noch gar nicht so lange her. Der zweite Teil liegt nun ebenfalls vor, und geboten wird wieder über eine Stunde typische Majestic Musik. Zur Erinnerung: Majestic ist das Baby von Jeff Hamel, einem amerikanischen Multiin- strumentalisten. Er ist für sämtliche Gitarren und Keyboards zuständig, der zweite sozusagen fest angestellte Musiker auf diesem Album ist Schlag- zeuger Mike Kosacek. Also nichts Neues im Ver- gleich zu Teil 1. Auch nicht, was die Gesangs- positionen betrifft, denn David Cagle und Chris Hodges waren ebenfalls schon bei Teil 1 dabei, und Jessica Rasche zählt schon längere Zeit zum Majestic Umfeld. Und so geht es praktisch nahtlos weiter in Hamels Musikkosmos mit Epsilon 2 als logische Fortsetzung. Der Vorgänger hatte schon neben weiteren Titeln die ersten drei Sek- tionen des epischen Titelsongs im Programm, nun folgen die restlichen neun Parts. Wie von Majestic bereits gewohnt mit einer gelungenen Mischung aus Heavy Prog und Symphonic Rock. Und es muss auch nicht alles glatt gebügelt sein, wie “The Journey Back” zeigt, das auch mal etwas sperrig wirkt. Hamel hatte nicht wieder, wie bei V.O.Z., ein Doppelalbum aufnehmen wollen, son- dern seine Kompositionen diesmal auf zwei eigen- ständige Alben verteilt. Als Doppelalbum wäre dies vermutlich auch etwas zu viel des Guten gewesen, insofern also wohl eine gute Entschei- dung. Fans von Ayreon und ähnlichem sollten sich angesprochen fühlen. Gehaltvoller Heavy Symphonic Prog. Jürgen Meurer



Translated via google:


In issue number 106 Epsilon 1 chen was discussed, so it is not so long ago. The second part is now also present, and is offered again typical one hour Majestic Music. Reminder: Majestic is the baby of Jeff Hamel, an American Multiin- instrumentalists. He is responsible for all guitars and keyboards, the second as it were salaried musicians on this album is impact producers Mike Kosacek. So nothing new compared to Part 1. Not even when it comes to vocal positions, for David Cagle Chris Hodges had also been at part 1 here, and Jessica Rasche counts for quite some time on Majestic environment. And so it goes virtually seamlessly into Hamels musical cosmos with epsilon 2 as a logical continuation. The predecessor had, among other titles, the first three sec- tions of the epic title track in the program, then follow the remaining nine parts. How Majestic already familiar with a mixture of heavy prog and symphonic rock. And it does not have to be anything ironed also as “The Journey Back” shows, which also acts something bulky. Hamel had not again, as with VOZ, recording a double album, but this time his compositions on two albums distributed own right. As a double album, this probably would have been a bit too much of a good thing, so far so good making a good decision. Fans of Ayreon and the like should feel concerned. Full-bodied Heavy Symphonic Prog.

Jürgen Meurer

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

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 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