Highlord - Breath Of Eternity
Northwind Records
Symphonic Power Metal
11 songs (57'34)
Release year: 2002
Highlord, Northwind
Reviewed by Marty
Breath Of Eternity is the latest release from this Italian Neo-Classical Power Metal outfit and continues in the same vein as their previous two albums, Heir Of Power released in 1999 and When The Aurora Falls.... in 2000. After reviewing a few of these Italian bands, you start to notice that they all have a very similar sound. Most are very speedy with lots of fast riffing, fast double bass drumming, passionate and operatic vocal lines and use lots of keyboard symphonic effects. Labyrinth, Rhapsody and to a lesser degree, Skylark are a few of the bands that really pioneered this type of sound. Many other bands, Highlord included, are just merely copying that particular sound and offer very little that's new and original. This is a great sounding band, don't get me wrong, but the whole time I was listening to this album, I kept thinking that I've heard all this before.

This band used to be known as Avatar prior to changing their name to Highlord and they have a new vocalist, Andrea Marchisio, since their last album. Aside from recently completing this album, they have just finished recording a couple of cover tunes, Power, for the Keepers Of Jericho - Part II Helloween tribute due out in December on Arise Records and the song Thor for a Manowar tribute due out soon on Steelborn Records. Like some of the other Italian bands in this genre, the production is not that great. The whole album sounds thin, except for the guitars, and the drums have a very weak sound. Their new vocalist has a great voice but again, is very typical of other bands who also do this style of metal. The epic quality to some of their tracks really brings Rhapsody to mind in more than a few instances with the orchestrated sound and use of narration, but there's a big difference in sound as far as the guitars. Unlike Rhapsody, the guitars have a fatter and more up front sound and use big thick power chords as opposed to just following the speedy drum beats. Neo-classical metal fans and fans of Yngwie Malmsteen will find lots to like here as well. Lots of very fast guitar/synthesizer and guitar/harpsichord scale runs can be found throughout this album and many of the guitar passages and solos bring the Swedish guitar wizard to mind. A few of the instrumental breaks, although they make a valiant attempt, sort of fall flat in some cases and really do nothing to enhance the effectiveness of the songs.

Some Stratovarius influences can be heard on a few tracks, especially Back From Hell. This track contains a mix of a lower menacing style for the vocals mixed with the typical Fabio style which really doesn't work. Their vocalist has a voice that really reminds me of Dennis DeYoung of Styx fame years back (I kid you not!!!) and shouldn't attempt to sing in a lower register....it just doesn't work. Like many other bands in this genre, powerful and operatic vocals can only carry a song so far, most fall victim to the age old problem of very weak chorus lines. There's a few track on this release that fall into that category.

There's two tracks on this release that are instances where this band shows that they can offer up something original and very good. Pheonix's Fire uses a more dramatic style and has some great passionate vocals and a great chorus. There's some Death Metal style vocal lines used here as well (not sure who did them) but they are effective and add some variety. Moonlight Romance, although being mostly a piano and voice ballad (no other instruments), has lots of melody, features an amazing vocal delivery and even uses some soprano sax. A very effective and very touching ballad.

There's really nothing wrong with this band as far as talent and musical style, it's just that except for a few instances, they really offer nothing new. There's lots of other bands who sound like they do (some do a better job) and with so many bands around now, I look for some originality to really capture my interest. If you absolutely love this type of metal and like all the other Italian Power Metal bands, by all means pick this one up. Myself, my Rhapsody and Labyrinth CDs are about all the Italian Power Metal that I really need right now.

Killing Songs :
Stream Of Illusion, Phoenix's Fire and Moonlight Romance
Marty quoted 70 / 100
Chris quoted 81 / 100
Other albums by Highlord that we have reviewed:
Highlord - Medusa's Coil reviewed by Marty and quoted 74 / 100
Highlord - When The Aurora Falls ... reviewed by Chris and quoted 72 / 100
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