Highland Glory - Forever Endeavour
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!