Walk with Titans – Olympian Dystopia (Rockshots Records)

Monday, 26th June 2023
Rating: 9.5 / 10

If one had to compare Olympian Dystopia to a single entity, that would be Stratovarius. It’s actually shockingly uncanny how much these Canadians sound like the Finnish power metal masters. Having heard Jonathan Vezina’s vocal performance on Silent Clash’s Inner Lies (progressive metal project akin to Symphony X), I was surprised to hear someone that sounded like Timo Kotipelto’s vocal doppelgänger. To say his range is impressive would be an understatement; if he can death growl then he will be unstoppable. Of course, there’s so much more than the vocals that make up this debut. Nick Maugy and Louis Jacques have expertly crafted a guitar tone that is melodic and catchy, while not being over-the-top as seen in a lot of neoclassical power metal. It’s always frustrating to hear something that has all the complexity and talent, but doesn’t hook the listener in at all. Even though Martin Plante was a session drummer, there is no lack of power behind his drumming; every hit is heard perfectly while not overpowering the drums or vocals. It’ll be interesting to hear if Nikko Cyr brings anything new to future records now that he’s joined the ranks. Lydz Grondin bass guitar, while present, definitely could have been boosted higher in the mix. This scribe is a sucker for a good bass solo.

While the Stratovarius influence is very clear, make no mistake, Walk with Titans is not a cheap copycat, they absolutely have crafted something special. There are tracks like “As Titans Fall” that have keyboards that are reminiscent of Visions-era, but instead of Nostradamus, we have Greek mythology as a lyrical theme. Given the band’s name, it’s probably safe to assume that will be an ongoing theme. Most know the basics, but Greek legends are so complex and esoteric that they likely will never run out of material. They could do a multiple part concept album just on Herakles’ 12 Labors alone. As an aside, hearing the correct pronunciation of Herakles/Heracles was very pleasing to the ears.

This writer is no Greek mythology expert, but some tracks are clearly about very distinct stories and others appear to be a bit more vague. It doesn’t take a scholar to know that what “Herakles” is about or that “Gift of Fire” is clearly about Prometheus and how he created humanity from clay, stole fire from the gods, and was punished by being chained to a rock on Mount Caucasus and his liver was eaten each day by an eagle (and would regrow each night – no good deed, am I right?). The final two tracks are also pretty transparent with “Seven Against Thebes” sharing the same name as the final part of the Oedipodea trilogy by Aeschylus (it’s also the only one that survives today). “Eurydice” being about Orpheus and how his wife Eurydice tragically dies and his beautiful music allows him to attempt to free her from Hades, but he must not look back at her until they are back in the land of the living. The song doesn’t appear to clearly address the fact he trips at the finish line and looks back before she’s crossed the threshold. The rest of the tracks may be more just general ideas around the fall of the Titans and the rise of the Olympians, but these also could be more specific stories yours truly has yet to read.

Overall, 2023 has not seen nearly enough strong power metal releases, but it’s clear Walk with Titans has a breakout record on their hands with Olympian Dystopia. Fans of power metal in the vein of Rhapsody of Fire, Angra, Twilight Force, Freedom Call, and yes, Stratovarius, will not be disappointed with this offering. These Canadians know their Greek mythology and they are definitely one to keep an eye on. There’s no shortage of tales about how Zeus is absolutely awful (and nothing like the Disney version) for these up and coming power metal titans to choose from!

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