You can tell straight away by the album’s title that Terror of the Cybernetic Space Monster is not your run of the mill heavy metal album. No mentions of wild nights on the booze, the devil doesn’t get a look in and not one nod to sexual conquests. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, you understand, they’re the staples on which all rock n roll music has been built, it’s just that Jason Ashcraft and co. look further afield for their influences. A lot further afield…
When Helion Prime made their self-titled debut in 2016 with Ashcraft (guitar) and vocalist Heather Michele being the creative brains of the outfit, their influences were stated as science fiction/science fact. Check out Decibel Geek’s review here.
This theme is very much continued on Terror of the Cybernetic Space Monster but in the meantime Michele left the band to be replaced by Kayla Dixon who in turn has been replaced by Sozos Michael, which brought new challenges not least of which were Ashcraft and Michael’s ability to write together.
Michael was pleased to report, “Working on this album has been an incredibly rewarding experience. While Jason had a clear vision as to what this album would shape up to be as the principal songwriter, he was always open to my ideas on vocal lines and lyrics. Our collaboration went very smoothly and it definitely shows on the final product.”
The band is completed by Alex Bosson on drums, Chad Anderson on lead guitar and Jeremy Steinhouse on bass.
Out August 31, 2018, on AFM Records, the album is power metal at its peak. Leaving aside the subject matter, musically the outfit are as tight as a pair of David Lee Roth’s pants. The rhythms run deep through Ashcraft, the power is brian-crushing courtesy of Bosson and Steinhouse and Anderson‘s solos are exquisite. Sozos Michael has a great voice for this type of music, too. He has the power but no rough edges and not a rasp to be heard.
Generally the band follows the power metal formula on songs such as “A King is Born”, “Bury the Sun” and “Atlas Obscura” but with such intent they take it to their own galaxy. “Urth”, meanwhile, has definite touches of DragonForce and Helloween which is no bad thing in my book and hits the bullseye.
“The Human Condition” has the pace of a high tempo rock song with only Alex Bosson betraying their power metal roots marvellously and I have to say it made for a refreshing change.
Things are taken down even further on a track which will be the nearest Helion Prime will get to a ballad. “Spectrum” is an intense affair but I couldn’t help wondering if the song would be a better fit for either of the previous female vocalists.
“Silent Skies” can speak for itself, check it out in the vid below.
Now, we all like a big finish of epic proportions, surely. Iron Maiden are well known for such tracks of course, not least “Empire of the Clouds” from the Book of Souls album.
Helion Prime now explore this territory with the truly sizeable title track, weighing in at 17 minutes 16 seconds. You might think that it would take some dedication giving it your full attention but it’s really not like that. The track is just gripping, with a few guest vocalists enhancing the experience. It is a cheesy, (as Ashcraft himself has described it) tongue in cheek tale of how the Helion Prime mascot Saibot (seen on both album covers) came about. The guests include Britney Slayes from Unleash the Archers, David Brown, and Haydee Irizarry. As you’d expect from a track this length there are periods of power, introspection and thoughtfulness. It is an absolute triumph.
Overall, I have to say that the album is a great example of how to produce a power metal album without getting lost in the speed element of it all.
If you fancy witnessing them live the band is on tour in the US on the following dates:
09/09/2018 Seattle WA El Corazon
09/10/2018 Portland OR Tonic Lounge
09/11/2018 Orangevale CA The Boardwalk
09/12/2018 San Diego CA Brick By Brick
09/13/2018 Costa Mesa CA The Tiki Bar
09/14/2018 Phoenix AZ Club Red
09/16/2018 Dallas TX Trees
09/18/2018 Austin TX Dirty Dog Bar
09/19/2018 Houston TX Scout Bar
09/24/2018 Greenville SC Radio Room
09/26/2018 Baltimore MD Sparta Inn
09/27/2018 Brooklyn NY Kingsland
09/28/2018 Rochester NY Montage Music Hall
10/03/2018 Wilmington DE Bar XIII
10/05/2018 Chicago IL Reggies
10/07/2018 Denver CO Larimer
10/09/2018 Sioux Falls SD Bigs Bar
If you can’t get enough of Jason Ashcraft he has another project on the go, called Dire Peril. Check out the details here.
Once again, Terror of the Cybernetic Space Monster is out August 31, 2018, via AFM Records.