Steel Prophet – Omniscient (Cruz del Sur Music)

Wednesday, 16th July 2014
Rating: 7/10

California pure-bred melodic metal crew Steel Prophet have returned after a 10-year break between studio albums with their own collection of songs dubbed Omniscient. Anyone who followed Nuclear Blast during their pre-dominance era will remember the band being one of the label’s few American acts, one that was like a square peg fitting into a round hole given the awfully difficult true American metal landscape of the late 90s/early 00s. Not surprisingly, they still very much operate as such, with Omniscient being one of the more out-there and unconventional albums you’ll hear coming out of this space.

Roughly in the same ballpark as the vastly-underrated Pharaoh and regularly-overlooked Jag Panzer, Steel Prophet’s tough-to-hang sound bounces all over the places via these 14 cuts, which are further gussied-up by a complex storyline written by guitarist/primary songwriter Steve Kachinsky. Whereas the jumbled, sometimes incoherent action of “Chariot of the Gods” is a total the miss, the kitsch and fun purveyed on “666 is Everywhere (The Heavy Metal Blues)” has some pull to it. But of course, that song is followed up by the very Beatles(!)-like “Oleander Blues,” which may serve to further confuse those who were expecting a straightforward, Euro-ready basher of an album.

Frankly, these are just tough songs to get into. Vocalist Rick Mythiasin still has some helium strapped to him, but the engaging vocal hooks found on “Through Time and Space” or “911” don’t happen enough to rescue Omniscient from its over-indulgence. And DR never usually balks at such things – the more outward-looking ideas, the better sometimes. But not in this context, and not after so many years of watching the American melodic metal scene have minimal turnover, and make minimal progress in relation to what’s going on in Europe.

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