After its release in early December, A Christmas Carol quickly began getting praised like nobody’s business. Like apparently this thing is worth a 98% average on the Metal Archives? Enough to pique ones interest. (But then again, the previous album holds a 93% average and that was a bloated too-much-of-everything affair.) A Christmas Carol the second album under the Majestica moniker from the guys who were once Reinxeed, and as the name would suggest it’s based on Charles Dickens’ age old story of the same name which I mean… totally, why not? Everyone likes a good Christmas tale, though I can’t help but feel there’s a better $crooge to base it around… and you know what, it is a surprisingly well crafted album. Landing at just over 40 minutes it holds very little of the bloating that so marked its predecessor, Above the Sky (2019).
It is designed as a Christmas album, but first and foremost a power metal album; a Reinxeed one. Or Majestica, as the case would be. In the first vein, there are snippets of all kinds of Christmas songs and carols incorporated into the melodies or vocal lines, all throughout the album. The twinkling of the sleigh bells and the ringing of the carols in the keyboards also obviously add heaps to that. As the story itself turns nightmarish for its main character however, the music still remains speedy, cheery and twinkly, rather than take turns into the slower, atmospheric darkness the guys could easily create. For all my griping about Sabaton, Tommy Johansson is a great musician and a phenomenal vocalist; he gives it all here and it comes across in the end product. That said, he’d definitely need to test the waters and go for darker settings. The Joy of Christmas does slow things down, but in the wrong way. It’s a sappy ballad set to a piano and just overly sentimental without ever really paying off. The vocal melodies work, but that’s about it.
Lead vocals are shared by all four band members, which adds to the depth as they take on different character throughout the story. Drummer Joel Kollberg (Veonity) is a shining star not only on this album but in Swedish power metal. Timing and feeling all go into his work here, be it the pounding in Sabaton-esque Ghost of Christmas Present or the frenzied double bass in A Christmas Story, his delivery is top notch. Obviously main man Johansson adds plenty of charisma not just in the vocals, but his flashy guitars getting all the time to shine alongside those of Alex Oriz. The speedy melodic soloing and nifty riffing are all of the trademark school the guys have been pulling for years with highlights especially in A Christmas Story and Ghost of Christmas Past. So in many ways the album is enjoyable as a story, as well as a power metal album, rather than just a Christmas album. But I can’t really expect anyone will be revisiting Tommy Johansson as Ebenezer Scrooge on a hot July day. It’s a good album, sure, but 98% average? Maybe I’m just not getting my dickens sucked by Nuclear Blast.
Standout tracks: A Christmas Story, Ghost of Christmas Past