Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Tales of Medusa - The Fatal Wounding Gaze (2010) | 98%

The Mythological Secret of Cascadia

There's not a lot of information about this band, they want to stay a mystery, while I like the shadowy aura, I reckon they're entitled to a lot of recognition. Nevertheless, they play music for the good reasons and that's honorable. Compared to a band like Ghost who's using their ''secret'' identity as a gimmick, Tales of Medusa is all about the songwriting and I must say that this release is one of the best albums I ever heard. It's hard to get their albums and I must thank my friend Steven (SolstafirAquilaria on the Archives) for the vinyl rips of their two full length albums, you're a true warrior ! While I salute that they press their releases themselves, hence explaining the highly limited number of copies, they truly deserve to be signed. A label like Shadow Kingdom would do great things for them. But alas, they don't want to!

Ridiculously epic and totally perfect, this band deserves to play amphitheaters while gladiators fight till death and then, the emperor will offer them slaves, gold, rubies and a platinum statue of their deity, Mark Shelton.

There's many things explaining how Tales of Medusa is so great but something that really grabbed my attention at first is the immense production, it's tight and the riffs are heavy. The album starts with the roar of a beast, perhaps a lion and then the avalanche of amazing riffs pierce your eardrums with its catchiness. The guitars are perhaps a bit too high in the mix compared to the drums and the bass but that's a small complaint since they're so good that it just doesn't matter. The sound, old school, is obviously adequate to their epic metal genre. It sounds like a mix of the most epic NWOBHM side like Elixir and the  USPM scene. It's neither amateurish or too professional and polished, it's the perfect production for an album of its kind. The solos are also pretty cool, intricate enough, there's no inane virtuosity to find here, you can use something else than shred to vanquish a dragon, eh, Malmsteen ?

Another wonderful aspect is the mix of tempos and the variety of the songwriting. From speedy short numbers like ''I Found Her Eyes in the Coldest Storm'' to longer songs like ''An Ancient Tragedy'', the band can do anything.  They still keep things relatively compact, there's no fifteen minutes epics like Symphony X likes to do. They still have the time to establish an awesome atmosphere. The diversity of the album is outstanding and it's not even something that you can hear at first since it's so appropriately produced and composed. From mid paced songs to slower tempos, Tales of Medusa will tell what you want to hear, softly and hardly like a gladiator or a courtesan. Blood or lust but in the end, a pleasure is offered as a tribute.

The Fatal Wounding Gaze, a testament to all things epic is a force to be reckon with. I can't hardly hear any weaknesses. The vocals are very interesting. Both powerful and emotional, they can convey feelings extremely well. Even when they're restrained and soft like on some parts of the final track ''An Armor Drenched With Sorrow''. The clean delivery is enjoyable and it's never forced. Even though, the vocals are pretty laid back, it works well for both the more aggressive and slower parts. The soaring cleans could be more powerful but I feel it's charismatic enough. From epic chanting to NWOBHMish vox, I felt fully satisfied with this side of the band. The complementarity between the vocals and the guitars are akin to the great bands of the epic heavy universe like Cauldron Born and I'd be hard pressed to find a better recent band playing that style. We'll see with Borrowed Time and their first full length though.

A careful attention to details, a care for the glory of the old days and an exemplary comprehension of musicality made this album a true hidden masterpiece. Like a rogue, it strikes in the shadows but the results are no less efficient. This is my discovery of the year and an album for the ages. While I like the heavy revival movement in Canada (Striker, Axxion...) and elsewhere, this is miles ahead. The quality of the songs are astounding and the talent of the band is undeniable. Look in Medusa's eyes, be fatally wounded forever. The dark age of epic heavy metal has never been so distant.

Since the releases are so limited, here's their two full length albums: DOWNLOAD THAT BUDDY
There's also a package of their demos on the net somewhere.

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