I’ve long regarded progressive metal as the frowning older brother of the power metal fan. The po-faced real ale drinker who has long since decided that the power metal formula has been well and truly flogged to death and should be sent to the knackers yard. The other, the naïve, energetic, lager drinking youngster, is just out to have a bit of fun and can’t imagine for a moment why you would want to listen to all those slightly awkward, jazzy bits just to prove you had a bit of taste before you get to the good bits. But in reality the two genres have always been close, if uncomfortable, bedfellows. Both require an element of the other, in my view, to be properly executed. So it’s impressive that Oxford quartet Prospekt have brought the two so comfortably and easily together throwing in catchy, sing-along elements with some tremendously high vocals alongside some more challenging song structures.
It’s all been achieved before by bands like Angra, Shadow Gallery and more symphonic bands like Kamelot. But there is too often a needless flat lining among prog bands that manages to kill off all the fun while failing to produce anything to compensate. Prospekt – from the Symphony X school of prog metal – are a likeable band combining flair and exuberance with something more thought provoking and less predictable. It’s particularly impressive for a young band on their debut even though the band has apparently been in existence for four years or so with an EP floating around somewhere. The evidence is pretty much there from the outset on The Colourless Sunrise with the juddering bass and guitars that light up the show on A Desolate Kingdom while easily absorbing rather than dwelling on the variations and the breaks.
If ever there was a sound that could pick up, dust off and rehabilitate the addict of cheesy power metal on a path to something more worthwhile, I think Prospekt have found it (okay, hands up, I’m talking about myself here!). The hooks and the choruses are in there but you have to wait patiently and sometimes even look a little harder for them. There are bass-twisting interludes – but not so long that I found myself staring at the track time and wondering when the good bits would start. It all hangs together nicely and tightly wound round some great tunes. The lead singer has some excellent pipes – classic 1980s-style high-pitched vocals. They’re pretty high in the mix though so anyone who’s not a huge fan of that style will probably find them hard to get past that.
But for me there is barely a dull moment here. Not hugely original but still most definitely credible. It is also great to hear a UK band doing something that British fans would normally have to look to the US and Europe for. It’s also perhaps the reason that the band has developed a sound that is individual enough in a fairly crowded power metal-prog metal genre to make this album an experience worth repeating over and over.
(7.5/10 Reverend Darkstanley)