Tommy Johansson is one prolific musician. As well as releasing three tremendous full-length albums with ReinXeed, including last year's magnificent Majestic, and a number of cover songs on Youtube, he is also a member of Rivel Record's label boss Christian Liljegren's neoclassic power metal outfit Golden Resurrection; a band that unleashed a gob-smacking debut last year. Well, Tommy is back to cast his wonderful sonic spells once again with ReinXeed's fourth album, entitled 1912.
The theme for this latest album is the tragedy of the Titanic, which occurred in April 1912. Infamous for being one of the greatest and most shocking maritime disasters of all time the story of the Titanic has fascinated people for almost a century. It has been immortalized in film, of which the best known is James Cameron's 1997 epic, and served as inspiration for countless books. However, I have never before heard anyone use the Titanic legend as the basis of a music album, especially a metal album. As someone who has been captivated by the mysteries surrounding the Titanic since childhood this made the album even more interesting for me!
1912 does not tell a linear story of the Titanic disaster but is rather a collection of songs describing certain aspects. At first I was a little disappointed by this as I imagined a huge, epic narrative concept album following the Titanic's journey from Southampton to the bottom of the Atlantic ocean. However, once I was over this initial (very, very minor) disappointment I really began to appreciate the album.
ReinXeed's epic, majestic and uplifting style is perhaps one that you might think unsuited to the telling of such a saddening tale but I think it is handled wonderfully. The aspects of the event that Johansson has written about all lend themselves to the fast power metal beats. The lyrics, although at times a little below par I must admit, generally help you to relive the shock and terror that must have been prevalent on board the ill-fated liner. Johansson's voice is powerful and filled with such emotion, even during the Halford-like wails. Most comparable is Sonata Arctica's Tony Kakko, who has a very similar timbre and the same pleasant, emotional voice.
All of the songs are catchy, as you should expect from a ReinXeed album, with the keyboards high in the mix leading the music while the guitars chug away over furious double bass drumming. When Johansson unleashes his magical guitar skills though, the music is quite simply spellbinding. The guy is a truly under-appreciated guitar player who performs some intricate and absorbing solos throughout the album.
In comparison to previous ReinXeed albums I think this one has pushed the bar even further. Majestic has been a favorite of mine since its release but 1912 has eclipsed it. All power metal fans should check this one out. If nothing else its refreshing to find an album in this genre that has nothing to do with dragons, wizards, battles, Vikings and magic! Not that there's anything wrong with that of course! Definitely looking forward to hearing more from Tommy Johansson's magic fingers in October when the second Golden Resurrection album is unleashed!