Released: 2007, Scarlet Records
Well, well, it seems Italy's Scarlet Records have landed themselves another quality band - in this case, Finland's Olympos Mons, who broke from Limb Music after the release of their 2004 debut, CONQUISTADOR. The band moniker is the Latin version of 'Mount Olympus,' the fabled home of the gods of Greek mythology and also the name given to the tallest mountain on the planet Mars, supposedly the largest volcano in the solar system. As if that little tidbit of information and the cutesy album title MEDIEVIL weren't enough to clue you in as to what to expect, Olympos Mons play power metal with plenty of crunch, lots of melody, bordering-on-pretentious bombast to spare, and enough cheese to give the lactose-intolerant a terminal case of diarrhea. That said, they deliver that particular substyle of power metal better than just about anybody else out there.
Production is heavier than on the debut, lending more of a hard edge to the rhythm guitar work of Jari Sundström, but the spotlight remains firmly fixed on vocalist Ian Eric Highhill (he claims it's his real name, just translated into English), who provides another energetic and melodic performance all throughout the disc. The songs themselves are good all around, if lacking somewhat in truly memorable moments. Opening cut "One Word" gives you exactly what you'd expect from this sort of band, a dramatic, symphonic arrangement of classical instruments leading to a series of keyboard-backed driving power metal riffs with sing-along verses and big, major-key choruses. Similarly catchy symphonic-power metal anthems can be found on tracks like the midtempo "Wolves" and the speedy "Kingdom of Winter," while cuts like the grandiose "The Emperor's Return" and the ridiculously catchy 'medieval tavern drinking song' "A Race Between Two Hearts" feature some great Maiden-inspired galloping rhythms and tons of near-theatrical aplomb. There is, of course, a 'ballad' track, "Fire And Ice," which features almost folk-y piano and flute melodies backing nice melodic singing - and fortunately enough, the lyrics aren't too syrup-laden. The title track turns up the aggression level, with some of the riffs bordering on thrash and a pretty cool 'screaming torture' segment, and a definite favorite for me is a bit of a departure from the straight-ahead power metal formula, the eight-minute "Locked In Chains," a slower, much heavier-sounding stomper with definite leanings towards progressive metal mixed into the more symphonic elements. Another high point is "The Price," which incorporates Celtic-toned chorus patterns and guitar melodies into the jaunty sing-along power riffs, sounding almost like a heavier version of what you'd expect to get if Hammerfall and Thin Lizzy wrote a song together. While none of the songs are what could be considered 'classics,' the variety in the tracks and the overall quality of the material certainly keeps things interesting enough to hold the listener's attention.
If I had to sum up this album in only one word, it would be "fun." No, Olympos Mons isn't really offering anything truly new or highly innovative, but what they're presenting is done very well indeed. Fans of Rhapsody Of Whatever, Hammerfall, Sonata Arctica, Kotipelto, and melodic power metal in general should definitely give MEDIEVIL a spin.