Psychoprism – Creation (Pure Steel Records)

Tuesday, 12th July 2016
Rating: 9/10

It’s exhilarating being on the ground floor and watching a band move up the ranks like New York/New Jersey heavy/modern power metal oriented outfit Psychoprism. Witnessing their first ever live show in early 2013, a year later their debut EP Bloodlines caught the attention of Germany’s Pure Steel Records, signing the quintet and bringing us up to speed for the full-length record Creation. Featuring seasoned players in this field from Gothic Knights and Operatika among others, this act digs deeper into a cross section of influences from the darker US power and neo-classical realms and as a result serve up 10 tracks of musically ambitious and dramatically intoxicating material.

The foundation of the gallops, main riffs, and steady syncopation/orchestral supplementation has a lot of late 80’s/early 90’s inspiration, as Queensrÿche, Crimson Glory, and the much missed Lord Bane come up very frequently on both the vocal and musical fronts. The semi-stop/start riff aspects and spirited Adam Peterson piano lead for “Shockwaves” contrast viciously against the soaring, multi-level range of Jess Rittgers – whose professionalism and projection are on par with classic Geoff Tate and Midnight. Guitarist Bill Vesser has all the speed sweeps and arpeggio runs down pat – providing a Shrapnel meets Malmsteen clinic during most of his lead break opportunities, while his main rhythm duties serve up more of the hook foundation that make “The Acclaimed” and the Symphony X-like “Defiance” two highlights within. The cyber-oriented keyboards and minor-chord progressions against a steady double bass mid-tempo template gives a song like “Chronos” that majestic power that put Transcendence on the map while helping to fuel Kamelot’s rise early in their career as well.

Psychoprism also serve up an intriguing ballad for “Friendly Fire” – possibly Jess’ finest performance for the band to date, channeling numerous personas to convey the heart-felt lyrics while the band uses appropriate restraint and fluctuates back and forth between clean and heavy elements to capture the overall intensity of the arrangement. There’s a lot to take in over the almost hour-long record – but the rewards are deep for those who miss US power metal that is theatrical, twisting and turning, providing flourishes of killer musicianship and vocal abilities. Considering the tragedies personally and professionally the five-piece endured in the ‘creation’ of Creation, the end result is stellar, epitomizing the talent level and determination of Psychoprism. The metal landscape could use more of this technically sharp, powerful style, as this puts them in rarified company – swimming with red sharks at the thrones of a heavier Queensrÿche.

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