Steel Prophet - Dark Hallucinations


Year of Release: 1999
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Catalog Number: NBA6350-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 58:46:00

While the focus is always on German power metal bands, American bands like Iced Earth, Jag Panzer, Division, Enertia, and many others are carrying the "traditional metal" flag for the good old USA. Steel Prophet has been part of that particular metal group for quite some time, and with the release of their latest disc, Dark Hallucinations, it appears that they've carved quite a hole into the stone wall that prevents "real" metal from going any further in the American metal market. Also, having signed with the Nuclear Blast label, Steel Prophet is really getting the recognition they deserve.

THE STYLE:

Based on past Steel Prophet discs, I've pretty much deemed them "Iron Maiden on speed." Clearly the Iron Maiden influence is present, but this time out the band seeks to show a different side, incorporating slower, melodic power metal songs that break up the speedy riffs that they've become known for. Utilizing the twin guitar attack, they take a Maiden approach to the music and then inject their own brand of sound into it, often changing tempos throughout each song, giving them an almost progressive-like feel. There is an outbreak of power / prog metal these days, and lots of bands, including Steel Prophet, are focusing on moving into a more progressive area of metal, without sacrificing that "traditional" style of metal. Again, Division comes to mind when I say this, as they pretty much follow this same style of Maiden influence, but injecting their own sound and aggression into the music, breaking up the tempos whenever possible to keep it interesting along the way. Steel Prophet songs can go from a soft intro, to an all out speed blitz in the blink of an eye, and then over to a different tempo altogether. This may give the sense of a true prog metal band, but this happens so fast that you really don't notice - the changes flow so smoothly within each song that it seems to sound natural, not calculated. The obligatory double bass runs are here as well, running along side by side with the speed-of-light guitars, and the bass chugging away relentlessly to keep up with both. Throw in a high pitched, wailing metal singer, and you've pretty much rounded out what Steel Prophet is all about.

THE BAND:

I've got a promo of this particular disc, compliments of the band, so there isn't any info on the players, but judging from the picture that accompanies the disc, and comparing it with the Into the Void picture, it would appear that the same lineup appears here except for one player who has changed. If I had to guess, I'd say that one of the guitarists has been replaced with a new one if I read the credits right. I do know that 4 out of 5 members have returned for this disc, and without making an incorrect guess at whose name it is that has actually changed on the disc, I'll say that I know for a fact that Steve Kachinsky, the guitarist, is still with the band and that it sounds like the singer is alive and well within the band as well. From the picture, it is obvious that one member has changed, but I can't figure out his name. This was the Into The Void lineup:

Steve Kachinsky / guitars
John Pons / guitars
Pete Parada / drums
Rick Mythiasin / vocals
Vince de Juan Dennis / Bass

In the meantime, we've got 2 speedy guitarists, who enjoy playing that Maiden like twin attack, only at the speed of light. Again, assuming that Steve Kachinsky is the primary guitarist, I'll say that his solos and riffs are speedy, intense, and precise. From slow, calculated solos, to speedy, in your face ripping solos, either one or both of these guitarists are well schooled in the "real metal" school of guitar playing. The interesting part of their playing is that it's not your normal, one lead one rhythm complement; both guitars are playing side by side most of the time, usually note for note which drives the sound rather than a rhythm player keeping time in the background while the lead player does the solo thing.

The bass and drum combo do the double bass runs and machine gun bass runs very well and quite often. As stated, the band does break up this style with some slower songs, but overall, you're getting a speed blitz with Steel Prophet. If you like this speedy, try to catch me style of metal, you'll like Steel Prophet.

THE VOCALS:

Rick Mythiasin sounds like the next coming of Bruce Dickinson, without the famous operatic style that Bruce uses. Rick sounds what Bruce would sound like without the famous vibrato that Bruce is known for. At times, he can go from a normal singing range, to a high pitched scream that can pierce the ear drums. Overall, he seems to possess a natural high range rather than have to falsify the voice to attain such range. On the new disc, he seems to be "singing' more than he did on Into The Void, in which he did do some serious screaming, although never relinquishing on the melodies or leaving the song behind as some singers do when up in that particular range. Rick is more intent on singing the song rather than yelling it, which is a plus in my book as many of these "traditional metal bands" from the 90's tend to scream and yell the lyrics rather than sing them. Overall, he sounds like the perfect "metal" singer for a band like this, who thrives on that true metal sound.

THE PRODUCTION:

Their best to date. Not sure if it's the fact that they have signed with Nuclear Blast or are using some different equipment or method of recording, but this disc sounds thicker and fuller than the previous SP discs. The sound is definitely full of guitar sound, and obviously this sound is right up front in the mix. Heavy and crunchy without overbearing, when either in full chord mode or solo mode, it's a clear, clean guitar sound. The bass is slightly back in the mix, as well as the drum sound, which I would have pulled up more, and given the drums a boomier sound as well as a more bottom heavy bass. I imagine that in a live setting, these guys are as heavy as hell, and it's always a bitch to try to capture that sound on a disc. Again, I've said this about Division in the past, where they have this super huge, aggressive sound on stage, and have some trouble bringing that power to a disc. Steel Prophet suffer a bit from this problem, although I haven't seen them live, but from the heaviness of the music, it's not hard to figure out that they kick ass on stage. On disc, they opt for a more natural sound rather than a doctored up sound. For instance, while the vocals are way up front, and it would be almost impossible to keep Rick's vox in back of anything, the sound is a natural tone, and little or effects are used to accent his voice; it's a natural sound, free of reverb and echo. I'm a sucker for reverb and echo when a singer has a voice this high, but the trend lately has been on bringing out the natural sounds of a singer and this is what Steel Prophet has done. I'd put just a little bit more emphasis on the bottom end, as the guitars seems to overshadow the bass just a bit, but nothing that will hinder the enjoyment of the sound; these are just personal pickings.

THE COMMENTS:

In the late 90s, there are lots of traditional metal lovers from the 80s, and there are many upcoming fans of metal that didn't live through that era and have a fondness for this style of metal. Steel Prophet not only emphasizes the past, but also brings in the new with the new allegiance of fans that metal has seemed to be drawing in as of late. Taking from the influence of the Maiden 80s, and putting their own brand of a progressive writing style to the songs, it appears that this "new" metal is about to make a strong showing thanks to bands like Steel Prophet, Iced Earth, Jag Panzer and Division among others. Not wanting to lose that metal sound, but also not wanting to clone that sound is what these bands seem to be after, and with releases like Dark Hallucinations, it's bound to have an affect on the true metal listener who misses that particular sound. Progressive metal fans won't want anything to do with this sound and this band, but fans of the old school of metal and fans that want a real metal sound for the 90s will do well to check into some Steel Prophet. Needless to say, this is one of those bands that have a desire to with their fan base, and this also seems to be a trend of the 90s and beyond. I believe that it's the allegiance to the metal itself and the allegiance to the fans that will bring bands like this and many others into a brighter metal future.


Tracklisting:
Montag (Chapter One) / New Life (Chapter Five) / Strange Encounter (Chapter Two) / The Secret (Chapter Three) / We Are Not Alone / Betrayal (Chapter Four) / Look What You've Done / Scarred For Life / Spectres / The Apparition

Musicians:
Steve Kachinsky - guitars
John Pons - guitars
Pat Magrath - drums
Rick Mythiasin - vocals
Vince de Juan Dennis - bass
Bernie Versaille and Roy Z. - guest lead guitars

Discography:
Inner Ascendence (1989, demo)
The Goddess Principle (1995)
Continuum (1996)
Into The Void (Hallucinogenic Conception) (1997)
Dark Hallucinations (1999)
Messiah (2000)
Genesis (2000)
Book Of The Dead (2001)
Unseen (2002)
Beware (2004)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin US

Added: July 25th 1999
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Artist website: www.myspace.com/steelprophets
Hits: 673
Language: english

  

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