[8/10] According to the internet, Shi Haung Di was the first emperor of China all the way back in 221 BC. Responsible for massive political and economic reform, Huang proved to be ever the ruthless fellow, sparing no lives in order to get his way. These days, one can just relay on some ‘ole greenbacks to make things happen, but it doesn’t appear backdoor politics were en vogue in those times. Regardless, it’s a deviation from the conceptual course in the power metal world, so give Thy Majestie and their fifth album ShiHuangDi some props. At least there’s no mention of crossing any moats or fighting a dragon with a sword.
On the surface, Thy Majestie aren’t entirely different from their global power metal contemporaries, coming across as an odd cross of Angra and Symphony X, which frankly, is rather appealing. One can detect the Angra influence in the way the band molds its riffs and melodies, for they have a harder and grittier edge than most, while the Symphony X nods come from the rash of grandiose and cinematic moments that are befitting for the album’s concept. It’s a workable compound keeps the band out of the power metal doldrums, that’s for sure.
As for the 11 cuts that comprise ShiHuangDi, the prime moments come from singer Alessio Taormina, who frequently comes dashing into these compositions with a sort of fearless bravado that is akin to Rhapsody of Fire’s Fabio Lione, who coincidentally gets a guest spot on “End of the Days.” Beyond that, the titanic and bombastic plunder of “Harbinger of a New Dawn” is a total winner, as is the speedy “Siblings of Tan” and “Under the Same Sky,” where keyboardist Giuseppe Carruba gets to have his frolic in the sun.
Rife with songs that have climaxes and hooky choruses, ShiHuangDi figures to be Thy Majestie’s breakout effort, coming at a time when the power metal scene is in a bit of a lull. There’s zero crossover potential for these lads, yet they should have little problem getting the power metal denizens whipped into shape with this one.