For many, the inherently ludicrous nature of power metal is off-putting, for many others it’s precisely the reason it draws them in. There is something wonderfully comforting about a genre that stays so wonderfully true to its roots, but equally it can be difficult for a casual listener to discern the nuanced differences between bands or even between each individual song.
The triumph of Helion Prime’s new album - the gloriously named ‘Terror of the Cybernetic Space Monster’ - is that it embraces all the familiar power metal tropes; the galloping songs, wailing solos, theatrical vocals and big, fat, fists-in-the-air choruses, but wraps it all up in a package that’s palatable for outsiders to the genre too. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how they achieve this feat however, perhaps it’s the subject matter, futuristic sci-fi rather than fantasy worlds, or perhaps it’s new vocalist Sozos Micheals’ crisp, almost-familiar sounding vocals that raise it above the generic, or perhaps it’s just a collection of damn fine songs, but somehow, it just feels like Helion Prime could easily be the next crossover success into the more mainstream metal arena. Like Dragonforce in space.
Of course it will still be too much for some. Despite sharing a producer and a thematic similarity with Gloryhammer, Helion Prime play their songs absolutely straight, there are no tongues planted in cheeks here and the indulgent excess of the 18 minute long title track is truly epic in the most grandiose sense of the word. If you allow yourself to succumb to it, you’ll revel in its glory but there will be many who can’t or won’t immerse themselves fully into such a track. In truth though, the song is something of an outlier on the album where only one other song clocks in above the six minute mark.
On the whole this is a concise, precise collection of well-crafted and intelligent songs. The musicianship is excellent throughout, it avoids the trap that many bands of their ilk falls into of making it all too one-paced and each song bleeds into the next, instead it is clear that Helion Prime have worked hard to ensure every track has its own identity. It is a conceptual record, but not overbearingly so, the concept coming out through the songs’ explorations of human nature rather than an overarching storyline so each track can be enjoyed separately or as part of the whole. Again there is more than enough for serious fans of the genre and yet it won’t exclude more casual listeners.
But what really stands out about ‘Terror of the Cybernetic Space Monster’ is how uplifting it is. Even when lyrically it moves into a more dystopian feel the songs themselves feel joyous, it feels like a celebration by a group of musicians who are clearly loving what they’re doing. It would be a very hard heart that doesn’t eke at least a little pleasure from this album. Some albums hit you like a slap to the face, others caress you like a silk glove, Helion Prime however have created a record that is like a shot of adrenalin to the heart and it feels good, really good, whether you think you like this sort of thing or not. So go on, why not give it a try?
Sozos Michael - Vocals
Jason Ashcraft - Rhythm Guitars
Chad Anderson - Lead Guitars
Jeremy Steinhouse - Bass
Alexander Bosson - Drums
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