Steel Prophet – The God Machine (Rock of Angels Records)Thursday, 25th April 2019
Secretly shrouding their new singer through a video teaser about a month or so before the album’s release, California power metal act Steel Prophet now has R.D. Liapakis in their ranks – most well-known for his extensive work in Mystic Prophecy. Given their relatively slower productivity since 2004 (their last album Omniscient hitting the streets in 2014), the in-flux vocalist slot plus natural life/career obligations best explain the ‘quality vs quantity’ issue for the band at this point. Moving to a new label for their ninth studio album, The God Machine could be a solid reset for Steel Prophet in terms of discovery and creativity, allowing the listeners to enjoy a new side to this veteran outfit.
Adhering to the strengths of R.D.’s gritty delivery, there’s an obvious penchant for more straightforward power riffs and less intricate/progressive passages – hitting heavier and driving guitar parts that propel “Thrashed Relentlessly” and “Soulhunter” into early Fates Warning, Iron Maiden, and Randy Rhoads-period Ozzy terrain for atmosphere and comparison sake. The guitar harmonies between Steve Kachinsky Blackmoor and Jon Paget take on an arena presence for “Dark Mask (Between Love and Hate)”, the uplifting nature of the main riffs and shred-tastic lead break rivaling the early 80’s Dio-era for catchy, memorable metal, while the follow-up “Damnation Calling” sees the band sliding comfortably into their Sabbath/Rainbow nuances – the epic tempo perfect for R.D. to glide effortlessly into his mid-range and slightly higher melodies. There’s a level of stretching that takes place for the five-piece that allows for some great headbanging action on “Lucifer – The Devil Inside” – another commanding chorus and immediately effective main riff circling overhead to cement in the brain, while the semi-blasting drums and layered guitar harmonies aid the energetic twists at just the right spot. You just get the sense for ten tracks that these musicians dug deeper into their early roots of hard rock/metal listening, bringing forth a renewed sense of what can be stronger for the individual songs – meaty hooks, proper interplay, and versatility for the tempos and melodies.
The God Machine will appeal to the traditional heavy/power metal follower most, those who love the 70’s/80’s bands who really cut their teeth on solid playing and writing mechanics. Considering the wealth of discography this scribe appreciates from the band (Dark Hallucinations and Book of the Dead favorites), this could rank right up there longevity-wise.