Released: 2006, Nightmare Records
In the early 90’s Los Angeles was home to the thrash band Psychosis, who released two demos in 1990 and 1992. In 1994 two members of the band, vocalist/guitarist Vince Levalois and guitarist Kragen Lum formed their next band, Prototype. Under the new name the two musicians forged on with a new rhythm section, creating a demo in 1995, a privately printed EP in 1998, and a full-length album entitled TRINITY through WWIII Music in 2002. 2006 sees the band on Nightmare Records releasing their sophomore effort.
Prototype certainly fit in well with their label mates on Nightmare, which is known for power/prog metal. Though there are some definite differences in the Prototype sound, in fact, I’d even say there aren’t many bands going as far as Prototype have. The band takes the very clean sound of a Dream Theater adds some of the progressiveness of their label mates (like Pyramaze) and melds it with the heavy riffing of a Nevermore or maybe even Forbidden’s DISTORTION album. Generally the sound is rather pristine and the band seem reluctant to bring out the really heavy parts, but in some sections it could be said that the band might be influenced by some tech death bands, especially during the intro to “With Vision”. Vocalist (and guitarist) Vince Levalois has a competent clean voice that sings some rather odd fitting melodies, at least for metal, some of them being very upbeat and uplifting next to some heavier riffing. Vince isn’t shy of getting heavy though and when the music requires it, his voice can get rough yet still retain some melody.
“The Way It Ends” is the opening track and definitely a good way to sum up Prototype’s sound. It opens with some simple melodies opening up into off timed staccato riffing with open chords overtop. Things continue like this, pushing the technical riffing, the drums following in a somewhat over the top way while the bass thumps along, sometimes taking a somewhat lead role. The vocal melodies, especially for the chorus are a bit odd, sounding more fitting of a 70’s prog rock band. A soft bride section follows later in the song, before a short breakdown and solo section. “Probe” is a short track, starting off relatively heavy and keeping it that way for all of it’s, just under, 3 minute duration. A somewhat groove thrash riff takes up most of the opening verses but the drum beat underneath gives it an extra quality, the drums being unable to take a standard beat they create a slightly off kilter feeling.
“Synthespian” starts off soft for only seconds before a heavy, fast, modern riff takes over (think Nevermore) though stop/start riffs do make their appearance throughout the song, adding a certain colour and impressive use of dynamics. The song works well at evolving, riffs changing throughout. Stop/start riffs being thrown up against modern thrash riffing and some just plain technical sections (1:05-1:38 especially). “Seed” starts off in the modern technical thrash vein, the riff being oddly timed but packing a fair amount of bottom end. The song evolves with second guitar being added and then all of a sudden things stop, then re-start in a different direction. The riff becomes more traditional, mid-paced chunky riffing that still packs a punch and feels more befitting for one of those more mid-paced numbers from early Metallica. The vocals being quite clean and work extremely well. One complaint is the main soft section which is thrown about through the song, in between verses, it’s almost annoying to have this song grind down on you only to have it completely give up. Certainly it works for dynamics, but sometimes playing with dynamics in this way is going a little overboard.
Certainly not the best album I’ve heard all year, but certainly an interesting one. I would definitely suggest checking this band out if you like the idea of prog meeting modern thrash metal.