If you are a Steel Prophet fan that yearned for the day when they would sound just a little more like Mystic Prophecy then guess what you lucky, lucky person you, cos it’s your lucky day! In a real hands-across-the-ocean type gesture, R.D Liapakis, vocalist for German Power Metal band Mystic Prophecy, just happens to be the new singer for American Power Metal stalwarts Steel Prophet! What? You already knew because you are a fan of the band? Hmmph, no pleasing some people…
But it has certainly rejuvenated Steel Prophet! Vocalist Rick Mythiasin has been in charge of the mic for most of the bands releases, giving the band a stable, recognizable and…I’m sorry to say sometimes a touch predictable sound. For me many Steel Prophet albums can blur into one at times – apart from back in 2004 when Rick went offski for a few years and they released the almost psychically titled “Beware” with Nadir D’Priest from 80’s Glam Metallers London on vocals. I’m not saying it was a great album, but it was certainly a different Steel Prophet release…and Nadir surprised the hell out of me!
But after Rick returned for 2014’s “Omniscient”, which was…very Steel Prophet, he seems to have buggered off again (joining Mystic FORCE almost coincidentally) and Steel Prophet have wheeled in the big gun. Steel Prophet have always had similarities to fellow Americans Jag Panzer and Iced Earth, and the latter is now further backed up on “The God Machine” by Liapakis’ ability to emulate Matt Barlow at times, but what he also brings on this particular release is more variation. There’s a leaning towards David Glenn Eisley (on slower tracks like ‘Devils Mask’ and ‘Buried and Broken’) and, as the Power Metal takes hold once more, Henning Basse or Apollo Papathanasio spring to mind. This seems to lift the music in a different way and has me thinking of more European bands like Metalium and Firewind – two bands I didn’t associate with Steel Prophet before.
There’s still plenty of Maiden-esque twin guitar and Jag Panzer style riffing, but there is more variation in tempo, more energy and (I’m really sorry Rick) way more interest in the vocals. Rick Mythiasin always did his best with the songs and was a great singer, but R.D. Liapakis is obvious proof of what a vocalist with a marginally different approach and mentality can do for a band. Take closing track ‘Life=Love=God Machine’ – a slightly more commercial track that no doubt Nadir D’Priest would have relished…for London! But in the hands (or voice) of Liapakis it takes on that Firewind-style fun-album-closer vibe that I’m sure the band were always striving for. Liapakis co-writes the album with Steel Prophet founder/guitarist Steve Kachinsky, as well as co-producing the album too, both of which are further shrewd moves by the band as he really knows how to capture and forge this style of Metal. This is a new dawn for Steel Prophet, proving that there isn’t only just life in the old dog, but it has some pretty gnarly sharp teeth too!
(8/10 Andy Barker)