Album: Vast Reaches Unclaimed
Label: 20 Buck Spin
Genre: Melodic death metal
Country: United States
Release Date: March 3rd, 2023
For Fans Of: In Flames, Dark Tranquility, Obsequiae
Majesties is a newly-formed supergroup out of Minneapolis, seeing Carl Skildum and Matthew Kirkwold of Inexorum join forces with Tanner Anderson, the genius behind medieval meloblack project Obsequiae. The claim of Majesties is to recreate the glory of the early days of Gothenburg melodic death metal, namely those classic records from the legends In Flames and Dark Tranquility.
Before I heard a single note, I had high expectations for this record. Early era In Flames put out some of my favorite records of all time, and Obsequiae is one of my most listened bands over the last five years. Obsequiae’s The Palms of Sorrowed Kings from 2019 has been on constant repeat since I discovered them around that record’s release. I’m someone who gravitates to compelling melodies, and Tanner Anderson has proven once before that he can write a near-perfect melodic record. When I heard he was taking a stab at the Jester Race style, I was excited yet apprehensive. In Flames’ The Jester Race is one of the select few metal albums I consider to be perfect through and through, and Palms ranks not far behind. Would this be just a worship record, a rehash of old styles?
I’m excited to report that my apprehension was entirely unfounded. Vast Reaches Unclaimed is fucking awesome. Tanner exercises his legendary melodic ability to its full extent here, with wonderful major key melodies and soaring twin guitars. His signature riff style is clearly present here, as we are treated to the tremolo intervals, floating melodies, and eighth-note arpeggio riffs we’ve come to know from Obsequiae, instead in an uplifting major key. This record feels like a guitar masterclass hosted by Tanner, packed to the brim with ideas.
The first half of this record is firmly Gothenburg melodeath. However, I feel it would be reductive to classify this as purely In Flames worship. This record features Anderson’s signature riff style and an Obsequiae-like guitar tone, with a similarly cloudy, almost atmospheric production style. The back end of Vast Reaches Unclaimed begins to feel a lot like a melodeath Obsequiae. Some might say this is a negative deviation, or may write these songs off as Obsequiae leftovers, but I think this introduces stylistic variation and gives the album a more unique identity. In fact, the back half features minor key riffs and power-chord hits that we don’t hear much of on the front side, and I think this creates a welcome and interesting duality. Tracks like “Verdant Paths to Radiance” and “Temporal Anchor” feature flowing tremolo riffing and interval work that feel straight out of Palms, but Tanner’s writing is so compelling I don’t mind it in the slightest.
The Inexorum boys also hold their own. I’m unsure how much of the guitar work is Carl’s and how much is Tanner’s (both are credited with “guitars”), and Matt holds the groundwork on bass. Interestingly, this is the first major record in Tanner Anderson’s catalog to feature him on drums. I think they may be programmed, but if not, then Tanner took the time to learn how to play drums. Either way, they are a consistent underpinning beneath what is really a guitar showcase.
Vast Reaches Unclaimed shapes up to be a fantastic, consistent, compelling, creative, varied, and memorable debut record from some truly great musicians. I listened to this album a lot, and I couldn’t wait to press play each and every time. Time will tell if Majesties’ debut will have the same staying power as The Palms of Sorrowed Kings, but I loved my time with this record, and I can’t wait for the world to hear it. Majesties has made history for me, and I can personally attest that the hype is absolutely justified. One thing is certain: you will be hearing about Majesties again when the end of the year comes around.
- In Yearning, Alive
- The World Unseen
- Our Gracious Captors
- Verdant Paths to Radiance
- Across the Neverwhen
- Seekers of the Ineffable
- Sidereal Spire
- Temporal Anchor
- City of Nine Gates
- Journey’s End
Total Playing Time: 38:41
Click here to visit Majesties’ Bandcamp.