Steel Prophet

Nuclear Blast Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


When I originally reviewed Dark Hallucinations, the debut release from prog-metal band Steel Prophet last year, I made two observations about the band. The first was that the band often sounded a lot like a heavier Queensryche - and the second was that it sometimes was difficult to stay focused on the music. But for this second observation, the album was quite enjoyable.

Now, Steel Prophet returns to the record bins (boy, remember when you could say that without people rolling their eyes at you?) with their latest release Messiah - a disc that puts a little more focus on the metal side of their music, thus allowing guitarist/band leader Steve Kachinsky Blackmoor and crew the chance to truly find their own voice. And while there is still a question about keeping the listener hanging on every note, it's an improvement over their last disc.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

New drummer Kevin Cafferty seems to be one reason for the injection of new fire into the band. It's almost as if he's able to start and stop on a dime, going from more traditional beats to full-tilt thrash without batting an eye.

Another factor which helps Steel Prophet - Blackmoor, Cafferty, vocalist Rick Mythiasin, guitarist John Pons and bassist Vince Dennis - is it seems they dropped the idea of trying to keep a concept going throughout certain songs as they did on Dark Hallucinations. If there is a theme connecting these songs, the focus is no longer on drawing attention to the fact. Instead, each track is allowed to come into its own.

This is the kind of approach that Steel Prophet needed - and it works well. From the bone-shattering intro of "The Ides Of March" (anyone who had to read Julius Caesar in high school or college will appreciate the meaning), Steel Prophet immediately let you know that they're open for business. Other tracks like "Earth And Sky," "Unseen" and the title track all reinforce this - and, in the process, gives Steel Prophet more room to develop their own sound and move away from the Queensryche comparisons.

In truth, there is not a weak track on Messiah, but one pitfall still lies in the band's path - namely, it's far too easy for the listener to lose immediate focus on the songs. Tracks like "Dawn Of Man" are well worth the listener's full attention, but more often than not, I found myself drifting along until I was snapped back into consciousness. I mean, there's worse ways to listen to an album, but Steel Prophet deserve the listener's attention.

The sad thing is, I don't know what the band can do to fix this. Maybe they might think about boosting Mythiasin's vocals just a little bit in the mix; maybe they want to add a little more fire to the guitar work (which, in all fairness, they do on tracks like "Rapture" and "Ghosts Once Past"). Then again, this band is not stupid; they've taken a long time to get where they are today, and if this is part of their plan, I'm willing to ride it out.

Messiah builds on the strong base Steel Prophet laid down with Dark Hallucinations - and while this is a very good album, it will be interesting to see how the band takes what they've created as a legacy so far and builds upon it the next time around.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Nuclear Blast Records, and is used for informational purposes only.