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Released: 2016, Indie
This is one of the more interesting debut albums I have heard in quite a while, mostly because of the lyrics and imagery. Even casual Metal fans will recognize the thematically Metal has been firmly entrenched in fantasy and horror. There are very few bands that utilize Science Fiction let alone science as the back-drop for creativity. Helion Prime is one such band.
This young quartet from Sacremento, California have decided to look at Metal with a fresh perspective and yet still incorporate many of the archetypes of the genre. The self-titled album starts off with a cool spoken word intro and then blasts off into the stratosphere on a rocket-ship to the moon (and beyond). The clear, powerful and expressive vocals of Heather Michele are top notch, not soprano, not growling but loaded with character. There is some vocal layering and doubling at times to add an echoing/space feeling. You don’t hear this technique too often maybe except on Ayreon albums. She delivers intelligent lyrics about the moon, black holes, galaxies, the Apollo mission and more. The album cover is a clever throw back to 1940’s Sci-Fi pulp serial magazines…think Flash Gordon or John Carter; Warlord Of Mars.
Musically the playing is tight and clean lots of speed especially on cuts like the debut single ‘Into The Black Hole’ and my favourite album track ‘Ocean Of Time’. If you had to categorize it I’d say Power Metal. It’s upbeat, up-tempo but not full-on happy Euro Metal. The guitar tone is crunchy but not too heavy everything just sits in a very listenable zone, not to frantic, not too restrained, they have hit a sweet spot to my ears combining melody, speed and power. There are several very good solos but they do not overstay their welcome, mind you I have never had a problem with multiple guitar solos per song, however in the context of these songs, pure shred would not work as well. The drumming is good too keeping the songs fast and punchy, lots of good fills but again not too crazy or overstated.
Helion Prime really have it all together. They combine a great name (named after a Riddick movie), awesome cover art, great production, good individual performances, catchy songs, above average lyrics and it is all wrapped up in a tight package, making this debut album one of the more exciting bands to hear and watch in 2016.
1. Into The Alien Terrain
2. The Drake Equation
3. Life Finds A Way
4. Into The Black Hole
5. A Place I Thought I Knew
6. You Keep What You Kill
7. Ocean Of Time
9. Apollo (The Eagle Has Landed)
10. Live And Die On The Is Day.
Heather Michele - Vocals
Jason Ashcraft - Guitar
Jeremy Steinhouse - Bass
Justin Herzer - Drums
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