That Finland is one of the better breeding grounds in terms of Power Metal should be pretty well known by now, to name but a few CELESTY, DREAMTALE, REQUIEM, SONATA ARCTICA, STRATOVARIUS, THUNDERSTONE, TWILIGHT GUARDIANS, TWILIGHTNING, now we can add another one, with the nice name of OLYMPOS MONS. Literally translated from Greek it means as much as “summit of the world” and at the same time is the highest mountain on Mars (and also biggest volcano of our solar system), a lot better than the next band bearing DRAGON in their name…
The roots of the band lie in the small town of Hanko, where singer Ian Highhill and guitar wizard Jari Sundström found themselves in 2002 and founded OLYMPOS MONS. After a demo still in 2002 they signed with LMP and their full length debut “Conquistador” here does not exactly ooze originality, but still stay away from the Power Metal mainstream far enough to be able to talk about an own touch. What definitely adds to it are Ian’s not too high voice, the very good dynamics and the use of genre-untypical instruments, as for example bagpipes. Reads good so far? Sounds just as good!
The opener “Seven Seas“ has pressing double-bass, but still breaks out of the usual schemes of Power Metal by keeping the tempo at a middle pace, so not the usual blazing start. Add to that the bagpipe sounds, giving the whole thing a very own character. “The Last Light Of The Moon“ continues in a similar vein (minus the bagpipes) and is a bit more epic altogether, with a widescreen chorus including a light choir in the background, very nice.
“Black“ is one of my favourites, sounding very mature and intense, the vocals are a bit deeper and the whole atmosphere sounds more grown up as with most rather happy sounding colleagues. “Black Desireé” and “Cleopatra” form a truly formidable duo, the first one fast, symphonic and with slightly Arabic melodies, which is continued by “Cleopatra”, with its powerful guitars, the keyboards, which follow their melodies, underlaid with double-bass, great! They also keep the verses mid- to slowpaced, the bridge a bit faster and finally unleash the double-bass in the chorus. While “Lady In White“ then unfortunately is very generic standard Power Metal, OLYMPOS MONS close off the album in style with the ten-minute-plus title track, with great guitar work, dynamic structure, a certain dramatic atmosphere and overall standing far above the usual clichés.
What I can hold towards OLYMPOS MONS is that they do not fear to use untypical instruments such as bagpipes or the harp, mostly leave out bombast and always put any instrumental wizardry into the service of the song. The cover (by Janne Pytkänen aka Toxic Angel) and logo also greatly fit the music and lyrics (where no dragon is losing its life), “Conquistador“ is a recommendation for all Power Metal fans as they somehow sound different. (Online July 1, 2005)