It's tough for me not to consider MYSTIC PROPHECY's "Never-Ending" as a companion piece of sorts to FIREWIND's "Forged by Fire". Both came my way within the last month or two, both are quality melodic metal albums, and both feature the axe wizardry of Gus G. Both albums also happen to be the third release from each band. Whereas "Forged by Fire" blends hard rock, '80s metal, and power metal (in a general sense), offering the listener a fair amount of variety, "Never-Ending" is classic metal through and through. It's about great riffs, blazing lead work (of course, it's Gus), big choruses, and an incredible sense of melody. If one must use the term "power metal" in describing the sound of MYSTIC PROPHECY, then please think in terms of IRON SAVIOR and even JUDAS PRIEST, rather than KAMELOT and STRATOVARIUS.
Most of the credit for the band's strong grasp of the melodious must be given to vocalist R. Dimitri Liapakis. His is a voice that is not out of league with legends like Halford, Tate, and Dickinson. In other words, his pipes possess that certain, indefinable quality that forces you to sit up and listen, that sucks you in and soon has you soaring right along on the wings of each vocal line. It takes more than a great voice and a keen understanding of vocal patterns though. Top-notch songwriting, as evidenced by "Burning Bridges", "Dust of Evil", "Time will Tell", and "Wings of Eternity" (oh hell, it's every damn song, including the instrumental title track), is the proof in the pudding.
The best part is that the music is metal to the bone. Without dressing up the description with all manner of adjective-laced prose, let's just say that this stuff rocks like hell! The rhythms are weighty and the guitar work is big, bad, and downright dangerous, "In Hell" perhaps one of the best examples. "Warriors of Lies" breaks from the mold just a little by incorporating light use of keys and spoken-word parts. Even the lone power ballad, "Never Surrender", is a strong, if predictable, track.
I suppose you should understand the story line as well. "Never-Ending" is the third album of a trilogy that began with a monk's barbecue for heresy and his return as a ghost to thoroughly annoy his assailants until they off themselves out of sheer madness ("Vengeance"). The second album, "Regressus", is the story of their demise. Having finished the job, Mr. Monk falls prey to the Four Horsemen on "Never-Ending", although the story is left open-ended. I'd dig the album regardless of the tale, but I must admit it's far more interesting to me than the usual dungeons and dragons material we're subjected to in this genre of metal.
Lyrically and musically, "Never-Ending" is a finely crafted metal album. It's difficult for a band to make a mark playing this style of metal, but I'll be damned if MYSTIC PROPHECY doesn't do just that. MYSTIC PROPHECY knows how to go balls out without forgetting about a little thing call song craft. Fans of classic metal heed the call!