Helion Prime – Helion Prime (Self-Released)Sunday, 17th January 2016
Combining a common love of science and heavy metal, California’s Helion Prime started in 2014 and quickly established themselves on the recording and touring front with an EP release the following year and a short jaunt through Utah, Nevada, and Oregon beyond their home state borders. Now the quartet’s self-titled debut full-length hits the streets, and power metal of the heavier variety (guitars first of course, keyboards supplementary) penetrates the aural landscape for these 10 tracks.
Convincing non-believers comes down to stellar performances on riff/hook/melody combinations that lead to memorable songwriting. Guitarist Jason Ashcraft keeps most of his playing gritty while steamrolling in classic power chord mold – capitalizing on a lot of Iron Savior and Priest/Maiden maneuvers for standouts like “Into the Black Hole” and twin-harmony filled “Moon-Watcher”. Gaining a lot of support from the internet community in terms of guest solos expands dynamic horizons- as melodic and shredding elements give the lead breaks diversity.
Graveshadow vocalist Heather Michele handles the science lyrical scope as well as the rich melodies – and the multi-level layer approach gives the listener a lot of Queen vibes during the chorus of the commercial-oriented “The Drake Equation” or the emotional slow to marching mood shifter “A Place I Thought I Knew” (early Queensrÿche inflections for the latter). The closer “Live and Die on This Day” gains a boost in the duet front from Dream Evil singer Niklas Isfeldt: the seven-minute epic containing a lot of requisite fist raising elements in terms of a chugging rhythm back bone, steady double bass bashing, and an interesting cyber dog finish.
We need more American groups like Helion Prime that put more guts and glory into the power metal style rather than siphoning off the higher keyboard and choir to guitar quotient that makes many Euro-oriented happy acts – this is a fine start and compelling enough to see where future efforts take ahold.