|Review: Steel Prophet - Messiah|
Label: Nuclear Blast
Year released: 2000
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: February 28, 2004
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Rated 4.6/5 (92%) (10 Votes)
This was the fourth full-length release for this American band that has toiled in the underground for over a decade now. Despite reports of a breakup after 2002's "Unseen", it seems from their site that the band is still soldiering on. Steel Prophet were one of those bands that I had heard about, and even heard some songs, but had never really grabbed me or done anything to make me want to get one of their albums. But when I ran across this CD at the local mom and pop store I thought: what the heck?
"Messiah" is actually a very good album, and I am much more impressed than I thought I would be. This is US Power Metal that is unsurprisingly broadly similar to bands like Agent Steel or Onward, and owes a lot to the sound of "No Exit" era Fates Warning. The basic style of Steel Prophet is rooted in old-school melodic metal like Iron Maiden, but with that characteristic US-crunch to it. The harmonizing guitars are an obvious highlight here, as are the powerful vocals of Rick Mythiasin. He sounds a good bit like a younger Ray Alder, but he has a distinctive tone and an excellent ear for melody. Just when it seems the vocal lines are getting dull, he'll switch gears entirely or add some cool little melodic flourish that will make you sit up and pay attention again.
Steel Prophet have been around a while now, and it shows in their tight and snappy songwriting and often very deft arrangements. There are more talented bands out there, but few so professional-sounding, if you get my meaning. There is a lot of variety in the songwriting, from midpaced stompers like the opener "The Ides Of March" or the almost groovy "Mysteries Of Iniquity" to the volleying "Dawn Of Man" or the air-raid wakeup of the title cut. "Messiah" never breaks any kind of new ground, but it never gets boring either, and at least Steel Prophet don't just write the same song over and over, like some bands I could name. Okay, so they owe pretty much their whole sound to Iron Maiden's "Piece Of Mind" and Fates Warning's "No Exit", but they are doing more with their basic influences than a lot of other bands have managed, and they have a distinct sound of their own.
As always, the cover art is very cool. I really like that Steel Prophet albums all have a unified kind of look to them. The lyrics are not too bad, and the band includes a short blurb about each tune explaining what it's about and where it came from. Normally I detest this kind of thing, but in this case they managed to avoid the feeling of 'look how smart we are' for the most part.
This is a good, solid CD of US-flavored Power Metal that has enough melody and progressive approach to appeal to more modern metal fans, but also enough crunch and attitude to go down easy with old-schoolers as well. They may not be a first-rank band, but Steel Prophet are definitely worth your time.
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