Steel Prophet – “Omniscient” (Cruz Del Sur Music)
At last – the return of the US prog power metal kings! Timing was never great with Steel Prophet, releasing their debut at the height of the grunge explosion in 1995, but these guys go against the grain anyway, right from their brand of technical metal, to their complex album concepts usually visualising the mastermind songwriter genius of guitarist Steve Kachinsky Blackmore (yes, he is named after the dark one – Ed). The all knowing “Omniscient” certainly reflects that confidence in its title as well as its stunning music – fluid techno prog melodies graced by virtuoso guitar playing against a hard punching, galloping rhythm courtesy of Body Count bassist Vince Dennis and John Tarascio’s drums – sort’ve a mixture between Maiden and Fates Warning! With fan favorite Rick Mythiasin’s operatically soulful vocals returning to the fold in their first full length album in 10 years, the circle is complete in bringing back technical epics like ‘Chariots Of The Gods’ and ‘Trickery Of The Scourge’ in returning the glory of Steel Prophet back to a forgotten world. Despite all this confidence and undoubted musicianship their cover of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ falls short of the original even though the odds were in their favor to pull off a ripping version, instead coming across as a tad half serious – another quirk in Steel Prophet’s eccentric history – although the ripping ‘1984’ definitely hits the mark both for its unashamed no nonsense power as well as its Orwellian subject matter! Speaking of strange, I’ve left the best till last, which is of course the lyrics and these are based on another Steve Kachinsky story, the central character of which – Auriga Alycone – is on a journey to attain all seeing knowledge (hence the album’s title – Ed) based on a code that relates to 12 symbols that just so happen to correlate with the twelve songs and the twelve illustrations on the album – and there I’ll leave it as the full story is on the Cruz Del Sur site and you can indulge yourselves in working out the link between 911, Richard Nixon and aliens!