Album Review: A Christmas Carol by Majestica (Nuclear Blast)

Swedish power metal band, Majestica, will release a Christmas metal album to raise all our spirits this December, the 4th, called A Christmas Carol.

The Swedish metallers shot to fame in 2019 with the release of their excellent debut, Above the Sky. A bit of a comeback album really as the band had kind of existed before from 2004 under the name ReinXeed. Now in 2020 they are back with not only a new album, but a special treat for their fans. A Christmas musical power metal album retelling the famous Charles Dickens story, A Christmas Carol. Expect emphatic symphonic power metal with Majestica’s spirit and inspiration from the likes of Twilight Force, Rhapsody, Alan Silvestri, Danny Elfman and John Williams.

As well as the well‐known story of Ebenezer Scrooge, there are plenty of classic Christmas tunes given the Majestica treatment too. The main theme is elevated further with many different voices for the many characters in the story. Don’t be worried though. Yes, this is a unique and original Christmas album, but it is still a well written, power metal album at it’s core.

A Christmas Carol by Majestica

Guitarist and vocalist, Tommy Johansson states, “A silly dream of mine has finally come true. For many years I’ve wanted to release a Christmas album, because the atmosphere around Christmas is always so peaceful and music with a clear Christmas theme is always beautiful and very well‐written. The reason why we chose to make a musical album with the story of Ebenezer Scrooge is very simple – it’s a great story to tell around Christmas and it works so well as a musical. And with the help of different voice actors and singers we made it possible for this to happen – we’re very happy with the result.”

The rest of Majestica, guitarist Alex Oriz,  bassist Chris David and drummer Joel Kollberg, all join Tommy on vocals this time with additional work coming from guests from bands including  Veonity and Hot Beef Injection. Artwork comes via underground artist Madeleine Andersson who’s painted style came to light when she produced fan art for Twilight Force. The music was written, recorded and produced by Majestica at Nygård, Ekshärad during the summer of 2020. Mixing and mastering of this album was made by Jonas Kjellgren (Scar Symmetry, Raubtier) at Black Lounge Studios.

And so, on to the music. I must start off by saying that I am madly excited for this. I love me a bit of Christmas metal and have long spoken of wishing bands would release more original Christmas music.

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We get under way with the album opener, A Christmas Carol. A 100 second builder that is an absolute downpour of all things Christmassy. You get drenched in Christmas spirit as we get hit with all the bells and chimes you could wish for in a mash up of music that occasionally settles into familiar tunes like “O Come All Ye Faithful” or  “Jingle Bells”. The story starts proper next with A Christmas Story and I was instantly blown away by how awesome the drums and guitars worked with the Christmas orchestral elements. It sounds huge and the chorus is jaw dropping. I simultaneously feel the urge to run around screaming Merry Christmas while headbanging and punching the air. It works beautifully.

The vocals fit perfectly too, hitting Halford heights at times and with an emphatic delivery expected of power metal. The solos are phenomenal and the clever use of traditional songs blended into the originals core shows supreme musical intelligence. In this song alone we get O Come All Ye Faithful, Oh Holy Night and more. Mesmerising stuff, that continues throughout the album. Ghost of Marley starts with a little God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen before setting into a punchy track with a darker attitude. It suits the theme too with the appearance of the ghost of Marley. The drums are fire here and really get your head banging alone. The gang vocals, the orchestra, the solos – wow.

A Ghost of Christmas Past could be a Sabaton song, in the intro at least, with some added glockenspiel. Starting with the tune of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing it builds into a rocking chorus that makes you want to get up and move about. The speedy symphonic solo is a joy to listen to and I really love the switch in vocals as each character, ghost and Scrooge, sing their parts. The Joy of Christmas has a gentler start, sung beautifully with a little piano backing. It builds gently into a more emphatic chorus but stays on the ballad side of things mostly. It really is quite beautiful though and the vocals are hair raising. The icing on the cake comes in the last 60 seconds when a phenomenal orchestra backed guitar solo takes over.

The Ghost of Christmas Present arrives with the sounds of the orchestra, soon intertwined with a blasting drum rhythm and a crunch of riffage. The mixed vocals work perfectly again in a pacey and catchy number. Choir vocals in the chorus are soul filling and we get a truly rocking solo with speedy drum backing. The stuff that has you quickly reaching for that air guitar and letting loose. It gets darker again next with Ghost of Christmas to Come. Mixed vocals torture Scrooge in a Tim Burton esque intro that sounds huge with the bombastic orchestra. I love the switch in feeling between the ghosts singing in choir and Scrooge’s desperate pleas. The trade off between the two vocal sections in the end is absolutely mind blowing as it builds towards a dark end with Scrooge pleading for his second chance.

Sadly, the end is in sight, but before we get there we have A Christmas Has Come. Scrooge is home, a changed man and ready to spread some of that Majestica Christmas cheer. And it is done in style. Nice and heavy at the start as we jump into a quick beat and fast riff section backed by blazing leads and gently placed orchestral elements. The energetic song really does raise your spirits up and make you feel a little better. The vocals are great, again, and I love the 60 second pure classical music part to close the track.

And so we reach the end of this majestic Majestica album. The final track is called A Majestic Christmas Theme. On an album full of brilliant decisions, this album closer is yet another of them as the orchestra go to town. It’s essentially a huge classical piece with a mix of different traditional Christmas songs blended together. An extended version of the album opener.  Okay, it lacks metal but it don’t half make you feel happy and as such is just about the most perfect ending for this album imaginable.

And what an album A Christmas Carol is. Look, I get  these albums have to be almost dealt with on a separate scale. Is it a brilliant metal album full of deep, meaningful lyrical content that will impact the world and our feelings once the holiday season ends? Of course not but, for a Christmas themed album, I can honestly say that I think this may be one of, if not the, greatest ever. In a year that has felt more dystopian than ever, Majestica have really stepped up to the plate to give fans exactly what they need this Christmas. Joy, hope and cheer wrapped in power metal.

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Grab your copy of this phenomenal release, A Christmas Carol, from Nuclear Blast now by following the link. You won’t regret it.

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A Christmas Carol by Majestica (Nuclear Blast)
  • The Final Score - 10/10
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