Where Stone Is Unscarred
Released: 1999, Massacre Records
Reviewer: Michael De Los Muertos
Hidden Gem Review
As if you couldn’t tell from the top-notch, frameable-quality fantasy cover that this album is a gem, you’ll know it about a minute or so into the intro “Ardebit Ad Aeturnum” when, above a standard martial-sounding male chorus that you’ve probably heard on many other power metal album intros, comes a great female operatic voice. A churning timpani gives you the growing sense that you’re about to hear some extraordinary metal. Then, Hyperion delivers on their promise!
Epic, soaring, melodic power metal. Enough said? Not quite. Hyperion are not as tight or efficient as Edguy or as bombastic as Rhapsody, but they get the job done and deliver an altogether excellent album. Thanks in large part to guitarist Alexander Blake, all the tracks have enough weight and riffage to them to dispel all but the most cynical cries of “flower metal.” He also peels off some great solos, such as an admirable one in “Shade of Sin.” Hyperion uses keyboards, and everything is melodic of course, but the “cheese” factor is surprisingly low for a band that is firmly entrenched in fantasy power metal territory. On the whole this is pretty energetic stuff. The music slows down occasionally (“The Mirror of Soul,” for instance), but you don’t get the impression of the constant stop-start, stop-start of some lesser power metal albums. On the whole Hyperion are very dependable.
Vocalist Matt McHantin, while he isn’t bad, isn’t great either. I think his vocals could use a little more polish, but he definitely has just a hint of that silky edge that gives crooners like Tobias Sammett and Michael Kiske their legendary status. Also, the keyboards have a tendency to be a bit flat, and are somewhat overused. Neither of these nitpicks really affected my listening experience significantly.
From the operatic intro to the epic final track, Hyperion brings the listener through some very familiar, but very comfortable, power metal territory. They are unique-sounding enough, however, to survive the inevitable salvos of “unoriginal” often leveled at Euro power metal acts. These guys are not Helloween, Manowar or Rhapsody clones, and WHERE STONE IS UNSCARRED is not just another power metal album. You can’t quite put your finger on it but there’s a little something extra. Try it, and you’ll agree.