OLYMPOS MONS – Conquistador


Limb Music
Release Date: October 25th, 2004

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

Finnish band, Olympos Mons, gets its name from the highest mountain on the planet Mars and the largest volcano in the known universe. An original namesake for an original band, to say the least. Formed in 2002, Conquistador represents this quartet’s first full length album, and contains 11 tracks of diversified Poetic/Power/Progressive/Epic Metal.

Comparatively, Olympos Mons demonstrates a playing style similar to Angra, with a plethora of bells and whistles (literally) added to their music. There are flutes, strings, bagpipes, a remarkably realistic horse gallop, and other special effects … all tastefully done and each adds welcome twists to many of the songs on Conquistador.

Jari Sundstrom’s guitar work is generally fast and punchy, using a muffled chord delivery method similar to Angra in the majority of the songs. He appears capable of ripping off some impressive solos, but does so sporadically at best. Mikko Sepponen’s percussion performance is easily the most impressive aspect of this album. Sound-wise, his kit comes through “perfectly.” There’s no hidden or overemphasized snare, the cymbals are crisp, the double-bass drums have a powerful, yet even, sound, and the remainder of his arsenal is used impressively with generous amounts of drum rolls inserted throughout most tracks. Vili Ollila (lots of l’s in that name, eh?) also delivers a solid performance via the keys, adding pleasant variety and noteworthy stereo effects. Oddly, no mention is made of having a bass player both in the band or sitting in for the studio recording sessions … evidently Ollila provides the bass fills via his keyboard work. Upon listening closely, there are definitely bass fills, but whether or not a conventional bass guitar is providing them is difficult to ascertain.

Ian E. Highhill on vocals delivers the most perplexing performance. At times, he sounds like one of the more accomplished vocalists in the Metal genre, and at other times he comes through with high-end instability … making some of his attempts at higher octave singing, like in “Stars,” “Black Desiree’,” and “The Last Light Of The Moon,” a tad comical. Lyrically, this band is top notch with its story lines and atmospheric creation … there are a few choruses, however, that become stale due to overuse. Overall, though, Olympos Mons has done a great job in creating solid lyrics within solid song structures.

Conquistador starts with “Seven Seas,” which was the title track for the band’s original Demo in 2002. This song immediately grabs your attention and makes you realize that you’ve just popped in a CD by a Metal band that’s polar opposite from “conventional.” The next two tracks, “Stars” and “The Last Light Of The Moon,” are also solid tracks, though more along Power Metal lines than the first. “Wanted Man,” next up, is the first track (and one of only 3), that is not completely stellar due to its over-emphasis on vocals at the expense of less musical innovation. Back on course, though, is the track “Black,” possibly the best song on the album with its dark-sounding, chanting chorus. A Celtic-style keyboard intro paves the way for track six, “Through The Ice And Snow,” which adds some nice variety again. Tracks seven and eight, “Black Desiree’” and “Cleopatra,” have more Power Metal tendencies, and come across a bit bland, indicating that Olympos Mons is at its best when incorporating various change-ups in their music, although track nine, “The Princess Of Saba,” is a straightforward track that works quite well without any tricks. Next, “Lady In White” features an interestingly playful keyboard and guitar solo that switches back and forth, adding to the success of this song, and makes way for the epic, eleven minute, title track conclusion.

Overall, this is a very interesting and attention-getting debut effort from Olympos Mons. The band obviously spent a lot of time working up many of the songs on this album, and it results in a Metal album with a variety of well thought out sounds, lyrics, and atmospheric effects. Their brand of Metal is fast and powerful, but there are enough tricks and change-ups within this album to attract Progressive Metal fans too. In the end, if you’re a fan of Metal music along the lines of Angra, you’ll be hugely impressed with Conquistador.

Guitars: C+
Percussion: A-
Keyboards and Other Instruments: B
Vocals: C+
Lyrics: B+
Recording Quality: A-
Originality: B+
Overall Rating: B+


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

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