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Highland Glory - Forever Endeavour

=Staff's pick

Spirit Of Salvation*
Break The Silence*
Edge Of Time
Mindgame Masquerade*
The Sacrifice
Forever Endeavour*
Real Life
Demon Of Damnation*

Genre Melodic Power Metal
Jan Thore Grefstad
Tracks 10
Jack-Roger Olsen
Runningtime 52 Min.
Lars André Rørvik
Label Face Front
Knut Egil Tøftum
Release 21 June 2005
Morten Færøvig
Country Norway
Lars André Rørvik
Similar artists Lost Horizon, Stratovarius, Ironfire

A calm piano intro calmly sets everything in motion before a very melodic guitar riff takes over, put things into a much higher gear and speeds up the song into the regular power metal pace. Two high-pitched metal screams with a heavy Daniel Heiman (Lost Horizon, Crystal Eyes) signature pierce the already vibrating air and another more power chord oriented riff transports us into the verse section of Spirit of Salvation. This is how Norwegian Highland Glory have chosen to start their second full length release, Forever Endeavour. Heavy Stratovarious touches are very detectable in the opening riff of this first track and by that I mean Stratovarius at their very best; fast and melodic. This nack also continues in the second number, Break the Silence, but even more strongly so since this one also bears the Stratovarius brand in the chorus section while the refrain of Spirit of Salvation reminds quite much of Ironfire, the Thunderstorm album especially. But Highland Glory are by no means a copycat of either one of these bands and the outstanding vocals of Jan Thore Grefstad are a big factor in that statement. His vocal abilities are a 70-30 blend between aforementioned Daniel Heiman and Bruce Dickinsson and he gallantly manages the whole scale and feels very genuine as a power metal vocalist.

Highland Glory have also managed to live up to their name and incorporated some Celtic /Scottish undertones in their music and that's very obvious on Mindgame Masquerade, the ballad The Sacrifice and the title track, Forever Endeavour. The first mentioned is a strong reminder of the main melody in Bob Catley's My America from his latest When Empires Burn, only in about 5 times the speed. The guitars on this one at times feel like genuine craftsmanship by Gary Moore and the cut also compiles a chorus that again reminds me of Ironfire's work. Furthermore, the band also seems to pay homeage to Pretty Maids and obviously have a profound affection for Running Wild as well with quite some memorable churning riffs of that sort. But Highland Glory have managed to use all these components, old and new, and still found their own sound landscape that's very pleasurable and very hard to resist for a power metal maniac like myself. They've even done it so well that also the two ballads, The Sacrifice and Somewhere are warmly accepted by this reviewer and that's a very rare thing. The epic 7-minute title track has a refrain so infectious it won't go away for many years and the entire number is definitely the one that stands out the most and also the track where the band appears to have found their own sonical identity the most. Demon of Damnation contains some death metal harsh vocals and symphonic instalments and is a perfect 8-minute way to conclude a great album and with that one of the more interesting metal surprises of the year has come to an end.

Finishing off with some brief band info I can tell that this five-piece began their career under this name with the album From the Cradle to the Brave in 2003, but everything started even earlier when they were called Phoenix Rising. In that shape two albums- Rise From the Ashes (1998) and Eternal Crusade (2000)- were released so already quite an amount of routine has already been gathered. I strongly urge you to locate the Highland Glory blip on your power metal radar and this release especially. Great songs, very good production, outstanding melodies, splendid mixing of older and newer inputs and very impressive vocals are waiting for you behind the counters. Thus the band is great already but with more maturity, routine and an even more individual sound that should come with such a development, these Highlands are just destined for Glory... And long may it continue!






8 chalices of 10 - Mat

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