"Shi Huang Di"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Today's history lesson: Shi Huangdi is recognized as the first true emperor of China. More than 200 years before the birth of Christ, he managed to unite the bloody warring factions of what would become China with an iron fist. Using intelligence and brutality, he helped build the Great Wall, an amazing system of roads and a unified empire that used the same laws, weights and measures. All in all, a legendary figure...just right to base a melodic power metal concept album around.

Thy Majestie have been around quite a long time and like many power metal bands from Italy, they are pompous, fruity and drowning in melodic excess. If that's what you're looking for, you will get it with "Shi Huangdi", based on the life of the First Emperor. Impeccably produced with shiny guitar, operatic vocals, huge symphonic burst of cinematic music...very well done but extremely tiring to hear all at once. These dudes are considered giants in this scene and indeed, this is the very definition of European power metal with all its pomp and circumstance. Love it or hate it.

One thing the band captures very well is the feeling of a motion picture soundtrack. Someone is the band studied music for film, because the likes of "Requiem", "Zhongguo" and "Huanghun" capture the thundering romance of a Hollywood historical epic, with an authentic Asian flourish. The music is generally very fast and the guitars are cranking, but one shouldn't expect grit or grime from a band such as this. Tunes like "Siblings of Tian" and "Seven Reigns" belt along like a horse racing on the Mongolian plains...but even that gets more exhausting than exhilerating after a while.

This is highly recommended to fans of fellow Italians Rhapsody and Labyrinth, but it's not something I'd spend a lot of time with myself.