Released: 2003, Massacre Records
Reviewer: Night of the Realm
They really ought to put up an “Impulse-Buy” Power Metal rack at the checkout counter of music shops. Like the candy rack in grocery stores, shelves of catchy power metal album covers would great the customer.
FROM THE CRADLE TO THE BRAVE, from Norway’s Highland Glory is one such impulse purchase for me. With a cover this cheese-ingly bad, the album has to be good. Highland Glory isn’t precisely a new band, as the band’s lineup (Minus vocalist Jan Thore Grefstad) had recorded two albums under the name Phoenix Rizing. Judging by looks alone, there is no mistaking this album for anything but crisp, clear melodic power metal with a slight epic and over-the-top flair. The end result is a sound much like Lost Horizon, with a bit of key/symphonic elements from Nightwish and the proggy-power metal of Mob Rules (especially the last Mob Rules album, HOLLOWED BE THY NAME).
Rushing from the shop clutching my new prize in hand, I pop the album in the player for the ride home. A little keyboard bit carries into some crunchy aggressive power metal riffs. By the time the chorus hits, I’m totally loving this one. This song is great in all aspects, from the inspiring and catchy chorus, sweeping guitar melodies, and the strong vocals of Jan Thore Grefstad. I don’t know where Highland Glory found his talent, but his performance is excellent. I wouldn’t consider him among my favourite vocalists, but his voice certainly fits very well with the music.
Unfortunately, the awesomeness of “One Last Chance” is put on hold as “Beyond the Pharao’s Curse” comes up. This one is a slow quasi-epic. The atmosphere of this song is right, and the middle instrumental is interesting but it just does not hold my attention. Fans of Lost Horizon listen up, because “A Warrior’s Path” has that over-the-top feel of a LH tune. Looking at the cover as I drive, I can’t help but feel a total BRAVEHART MOMENT (isn’t some of the guitar melody here taken from Iron Maiden “The Clansman?” heh). Even so, I could stand for a little more punch and speed to the song instead of a slightly faster than mid-pace gallop, as well as a catchier, less repetetive chorus.
I feel dirty for liking “This Promise I Swear,” one of the two uber-cheesey ballads on the album. I mean, this one leaves me with an even dirtier feeling than Edguy’s “Scarlet Rose.” Yes, but here I am singing along with, “All my dreams became true/Can’t believe that I’ve finally found you.” Gah...quit laughing at me, you fuckers! Moving along now, we have the two parts of “The Land of Forgotten Dreams.” Part I is very Mob Rules-ish in structure, with some distinct Nightwish guitars (ripped from WISHMASTER?). The solos here are great, but the song doesn’t really get going until the last 3 minutes of part I. Part two opens with a total fucking Nightwish keyboard rip-off, but the riffs behind it hit heavily enough with a good bassline. The middle section slows down until an insane flurry of solos builds up again to the last minute. Next is “Wear Your Gun to Neverland” which is probably the heaviest tune on the disc. It’s got this weird mid-eastern flair throughout the song, which is somewhat out of place with the rest of the album, but still manages to sound great. “Will We Be Again” is another fucking ballad! Why the hell do we need 2 ballads in 9 songs? Closing out the album is the title track and best song on the album. Maybe it’s just because we have Daniel Heiman and Fredrik Olsson from Lost Horizon making up the “Celtic Clansman Choir” on backing vocals, the fast tempo, or Jan Thore Grefstad’s best work on the album on the chorus. Nearly 8 minutes of ass-kicking power metal. The melodic outro adds the right bit of atmosphere to close out this song.
Highland Glory have shown that they are capable of some utterly awesome power metal, but some uninteresting songwriting takes away the momentum of the album. If the band kicks up the speed and power on the next album with more songs like “One Last Chance,” “From the Cradle to the Brave,” and “The Land of Forgotten Dreams,” they could have a hell of an album on their hands. In the meantine, FROM THE CRADLE TO THE BRAVE provides a good quick “sugar rush” fix for power metal fans, but after a few spins, I’m still hungry.