Highlord - Medusa's Coil
Arise Records
Melodic Power Metal
8 songs (52'10)
Release year: 2004
Highlord, Arise Records
Reviewed by Marty
Italy's Highlord is back with their fourth album, Medusa'a Coil and their first for their new label, Arise Records. Aside from a heavyweight act like Rhapsody, Highlord has established themselves as one of the top power metal bands in Italy along with others like Labyrinth, Vision Divine and Domine. Their last album, Breath Of Eternity was a good one and although not a masterpiece or groundbreaking in any way, it was a solid release that showed the band was capable of competing in the crowded world of power metal and more importantly, the ever growing Italian scene.

My first exposure to this band was the Breath Of Eternity album and besides being largely a melodic and speedy power metal album, it had some symphonic and neo-classical elements to it. With Medusa's Coil, Highlord has streamlined their sound a bit and opted for a more melodic power metal style but the continued use of piano and synthesizers still gives their music a progressive edge. The album kicks off with the title track, Medusa's Coil and it's a great song that has has a Domine style gritty and heavy guitar sound that is way up front in the mix. Sprinkles of keyboards, catchy vocal melodies and some great guitar and synthesizer soloing round out a solid album opener. The next track Far From The Light Of God is arguably the best track on the album. Solid guitar riffs, mixes of harpsichord and guitar and an overall driving sound are key elements that make this track work. With it's heavy riffing and melodic vocals and choruses, it really has a classic Stratovarius edge to it. Scarlet Tears sees the band delivering a more pounding heavy and melodic style very reminiscent of recent Edguy material. Again, the riffs are great, the chorus is solid and overall, it's a well rounded melodic power metal track. The rest of the album features some fast neo-classical Yngwie style guitar and keyboard runs (Dancing With Destiny), a big power ballad with an even bigger chorus (Where My Hero Lies) and a more progressive style with epic qualities as found on the track Moonseas. Your Story Too is a more straight ahead rocker and seems a bit out of place with the rest of the album as far as the vocal style and the album finishes with another epic, The Hand Of God. This one has the big dramatic intro and is both speedy and melodic. It also uses female vocals and some menacing death metal scowls as previously heard on the Breath Of Eternity album.

The production is a bit better on this album than Breath Of Eternity but the drum sound still needs to have more punch. The guitars have a distorted edge to them that gives many tracks a more heavier sound than they would otherwise have with the "standard" power metal guitar sound. With this new album, Highlord has mixed up the tempos and the classic speedy Italian power metal style really doesn't show up all that often here. The songs are richer and with more melody than before and the choruses to many of the songs are strong. Vocalist Andrea Marchisio shows improvement over the last album but there's a couple of spots where he really seems to be straining his voice to reach the higher notes. Overall this album has more of a classic Labyrinth sound than the last couple and although there's nothing really new here (is there really anything new in power metal anyway??), it's good and it's worth listening to. After a couple of spins, this album really starts to take shape. There are several very, very good songs on this album with rest of the album still having a high quality overall. Highlord has progressed and I like the direction they're taking with their sound. Continued progression should someday see this band releasing a killer album. For the die hard fans of melodic power metal and for those who must have every band that plays power metal like this, there's lots to like here and would be a welcomed addition to your collection.

Killing Songs :
Medusa's Coil, Far From The Light Of God and Scarlet Tears
Marty quoted 74 / 100
Other albums by Highlord that we have reviewed:
Highlord - Breath Of Eternity reviewed by Marty and quoted 70 / 100
Highlord - When The Aurora Falls ... reviewed by Chris and quoted 72 / 100
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