Album Review – Majesty Of Revival / Pinnacle (2022)

One of Ukraine’s most prominent bands returns with their fifth full-length opus, continuing with their sonic experimentations while still loyal to their metal roots.

Following up on the successful releases of their 2016 album Dualism and their 2019 album Timeless, Uzhhorod, Ukraine-based Symphonic Power Metal explorers Majesty Of Revival are back in action with their fifth full-length installment, entitled Pinnacle, continuing with their eccentric experimentations while at the same time remaining loyal to their metal roots. Recorded, engineered, mixed and mastered by the band’s mastermind Dimitriy Pavlovskiy at Beast Sound Studios and displaying a stylish artwork by Ursula Tabaka, Pinnacle is about the experience of our thoughts, about casual situations that happen around us or with ourselves, problems that surround us daily like domestic violence, blind idolizing, struggles in front of big challenges, leadership, money issues and so on, consisting of 13 cross-genre and progressive compositions filled with subjective visual descriptions and tactile audio figures carefully brought into being by the aforementioned Dimitriy Pavlovskiy on vocals and guitars, Myroslav Danko also on the guitars, Vitalii Popfalushi on bass, Maestone on keyboards and Marvin on drums. In other words, you’re in for a ride with those Ukrainian metallers who will take you on a journey through the vast lands of progressiveness in the name of good music with their newborn opus.

Dimitriy and Myroslav begin their DragonForce-inspired riff attack in the opening tune Open, blending Progressive and Symphonic Metal to the pounding beats by Marvin, while You Have A Message (Welcome to GULAG) reminds me of some of the best creations by Mastodon with their own Ukrainian touch, presenting an amazing job done by Vitalii on bass by generating a venomous paradox with the stylish keys by Maestone. In Rebellion we have powerful lyrics declaimed by Myroslav (“Fear has been born among us / Tied our hands with hardest chains / Cowardice grows like mushrooms under autumn rain / Left no word unspoken / Though desecration will touch all of you said / Let this silence to be banned / Let this silence be broken”) amidst a melodic, Hard Rock-ish sonority, followed by Mindcrime, featuring vocalist David Readman of Pink Cream 69, bringing forward another round of the band’s whimsical sounds with Maestone kicking some ass on keyboards supported by the Stratovarius-inspired beats by Marvin. Then featuring vocalist Kärtsy Hatakka (Waltari), trumpetist Volodymyr Shchobak and guitarist Vasil Dovganych, the band offers us all Fool, an imposing tune also presenting elements from rap music in its vocals, and Deliverance, featuring violinist Veronika Shestakova, where the band keeps embellishing the airwaves with their Progressive and Symphonic Power Metal.

In At All Costs a change in pace fills our ears with Dimitriy’s melancholic vocals embraced by a serene musicality led by Maestone’s keys and piano, resulting in a stunning ballad by those Ukrainian metallers, and it’s then time to hit the dance floor to the sound of the groovy Bury Me Part II: Dig Me Up, where Vitalii is once again on fire with his metallic bass punches. The band shows no sign of slowing down in Citylights; quite the contrary, they keep firing their Melodic Power Metal riffs, solos and keys for our total delight, which is also the case in the hard-hitting extravaganza Stone, with Dimitriy also delivering his demonic side through his deep, enraged roars. Things Are Not What They Seem, featuring guest vocals by Anzhelika Zyzych, brings forward more of their whimsical lyrics (“Sweet misguidance crucified us / Funeral bells won’t stop your yearning / Now its time for tables turning / Demolition in progress / But nothing will force you to confess / Desolation, commotion / Curtain call your emotions”) supported by a huge dosage of Progressive Rock and Metal, whereas their second to last explosion of melodious sounds, progressiveness and insanity comes in the form of Guardians, with Vitalii, Maestone and Marvin generating a stunning wall of sounds in the background. Lastly, the acoustic guitars by Dimitriy and Myroslav will soothe your soul in Overcome?, putting a melancholic, delicate ending to such multi-layered and detailed album, and if you go for the BandCamp edition you’ll also receive two bonus tracks, one being the instrumental version for Stone while the other, named Вартові, is “Guardians” but with Ukrainian lyrics.

Dimitriy and the boys are waiting to hear from you on Facebook and on Instagram, where you can find news about the band, their tour dates and so on, and don’t forget to also subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their intricate and melodic creations. The excellent Pinnacle, which is available in full on YouTube and on Spotify, and on sale from the band’s own BandCamp page (or simply click HERE for all locations where you ca buy or stream the album, including a very interesting USB wooden flash drive version), will not only please all longtime fans of the band, but it will also attract the attention of newcomers to the world of Majesty Of Revival, proving once again this Ukrainian outfit is undoubtedly going places thanks to their undeniable creativity and feeling. If the album will become the pinnacle of their career no one knows for sure, but we must admit it’s becoming more and more difficult for them to top their own creations with each album released.

Best moments of the album: You Have A Message (Welcome to GULAG), Mindcrime, Stone and Guardians.

Worst moments of the album: Fool.

Released in 2022 Massive Sound Recordings

Track listing
1. Open 4:04
2. You Have A Message (Welcome to GULAG) 4:38
3. Rebellion 3:46
4. Mindcrime 5:01
5. Fool 4:37
6. Deliverance 4:17
7. At All Costs 3:11
8. Bury Me Part II: Dig Me Up 3:24
9. Citylights 4:02
10. Stone 6:12
11. Things Are Not What They Seem 4:17
12. Guardians 4:54
13. Overcome? 3:35

BandCamp bonus tracks
14.Stone (Instrumental version) 6:12
15.Вартові 4:54

Band members
Dimitriy Pavlovskiy – vocals, guitars, choirs
Myroslav Danko – guitars, vocals, choirs
Vitalii Popfalushi – bass, vocals, choirs
Maestone – keyboards, backing vocals, choirs
Marvin – drums

Guest musicians
Kärtsy Hatakka – vocals on “Fool”
Vasil Dovganych – guitars on “Fool”
Volodymyr Shchobak – trumpet on “Fool”
David Readman – vocals on “Mindcrime”
Veronika Shestakova – violin on “Deliverance”
Anzhelika Zyzych – female voice on “Things Are Not What They Seem”, choirs
Rostik Groshick, Andy Brok & Yriy – choirs

Concert Review – Opeth & Mastodon (Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Toronto, ON, 04/22/2022)

And Toronto was finally able to enjoy a night of absolute heaviness and progressiveness by two of the most important bands of the current rock and metal scene worldwide.

OPENING ACT: Khemmis

It looks like everything is back to normal as metal concerts in Toronto (and in the entire Canada) are happening everyday now, and after my return to action on April 13 with Judas Priest it was time to keep the ball rolling and head to the cozy Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto on Friday night for a very special night of Progressive Rock and Metal with the co-headlining tour of OPETH and MASTODON, two bands that definitely know how to put on a wonderful show wherever they go. And besides, the weather was absolutely perfect, with a bright, sunny day and temperatures ranging between 5 and 14 degrees Celsius inspiring us to get out of our homes to bang our heads together with those impressive bands.

Before Mastodon hit the stage, precisely at 7pm it was time for the opening act, American Doom Metal outfit KHEMMIS, to warm us up with their short but very entertaining performance. Named after an ancient Egyptian city, Khemmis showcased all their talent playing songs from their growing discography, including their latest album Deceiver, released in 2021, with songs such as Three Gates and Conversation with Death receiving a very positive return from the crowd that was already present at the venue. All band members were in absolute sync from start to finish, resulting in a solid performance that proved why they were chosen to be the opening act for those two behemoths of intricacy.

Setlist
Avernal Gate
Three Gates
Living Pyre
Isolation
Conversation with Death

Band members
Ben – vocals, guitars
Phil – vocals, guitars
David Small – bass
Zach – drums

MASTODON

Finally, after years of waiting, American Progressive Metal/Rock titans MASTODON finally returned to Toronto to kick some ass with their undisputed, electrifying music. It was around 8pm if I’m not mistaken when Brent Hinds, Bill Kelliher, Troy Sanders and Brann Dailor hit the stage with the excellent Pain With an Anchor, from their 2021 album Hushed and Grim, setting fire to the audience eager for their concert, including of course myself, and let me tell you that the wait was absolutely worth it.

Unfortunately, like what happened in the first part of the tour last year, there were no songs from their superb 2017 album Emperor of Sand in their setlist, but that doesn’t mean the show wasn’t awesome, with classics such as Crystal Skull, Megalodon and Black Tongue, intertwined with new songs the likes of Teardrinker and Pushing the Tides, captivating our senses mercilessly and urging us to raise our horns to one of the best bands from the current rock and metal scene. Not only that, the background titantron was simply mesmerizing, especially in beautiful songs like the aforementioned Megalodon and the impressive The Czar, adding an extra kick to the music played to perfection by the quartet.

Of course, their closing song was their biggest hit, the fantastic Blood and Thunder, and let me tell you that since watching the Netflix movie Metal Lords I immediately think of the two boys form the movie escaping from the psychiatric ward when the music starts. Although there were no kids running on stage, the band could witness a lot of crazy metalheads slamming into the circle pit, which inspired them to play even louder, heavier and better than ever. Troy was on fire throughout the entire set, becoming the band’s “frontman”, while Brann was not only flawless behind his drums, but at the end of the concert when he took the mic to say a lot of good things about Toronto, about how the band missed us fans, he also proved to be a very nice and humble guy (who also got worried about someone from the audience who apparently passed out during their concert). Thank you, Mastodon! and please come back to Toronto soon for another amazing night of first-class metal music!

Setlist
Pain With an Anchor
Crystal Skull
Megalodon
The Crux
Teardrinker
Bladecatcher
Black Tongue
The Czar
Pushing the Tides
More Than I Could Chew
Mother Puncher
Gobblers of Dregs
Blood and Thunder

Band members
Troy Sanders – vocals, bass
Brent Hinds – vocals, guitars
Bill Kelliher – guitars, backing vocals
Brann Dailor – vocals, drums

OPETH

After a short break, Sweden’s own Progressive Rock/Death Metal institution OPETH took the stage to distill their unique sound for the delight of their Torontonian fans, and although their most recent album, In Cauda Venenum, is from the already distant year of 2019, nobody seemed to care about that and had a great time enjoying the music played (to perfection) by the band’s frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt and his henchmen. I must confess I’m not a big fan of Opeth as I think their music is sometimes too progressive and their songs too long for playing live, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy what I saw on stage.

My favorite songs from their setlist were by far Hjärtat vet vad handen gör, Ghost of Perdition and Deliverance, mainly due to the additional heaviness and obscurity found in them, but of course their entire show was great, entertaining all of their diehard fans who took over the venue. In addition, I need to say that Joakim Svalberg and Sami Karppinen are two beasts behind their instruments, enhancing the band’s punch considerably. Mikael also enjoyed interacting a lot with the crowd, exchanging a few words with a fan who could speak their mother tongue Swedish, repeating countless times he doesn’t do drugs (except for a few of them), and saying how much he missed playing to his Canadian fans. How long will their Toronto fans need to wait for another round of Opeth’s progressiveness no one knows, but based on the reaction from the crowd I bet everyone would have loved to see that happen again the next day.

Setlist
Livets Trädgård
Hjärtat vet vad handen gör
Ghost of Perdition
Cusp of Eternity
The Devil’s Orchard
The Drapery Falls
In My Time of Need
Sorceress
Deliverance

Band members
Mikael Åkerfeldt – vocals, guitars
Fredrik Åkesson – guitars, backing vocals
Martín Méndez – bass
Joakim Svalberg – keyboards, piano, mellotron, backing vocals
Sami Karppinen – drums