Steel Prophet - The God Machine

Steel Prophet The God Machine cover
Steel Prophet
The God Machine
ROAR - Rock of Angels Records
2019
6.5
Steel Prophet definitely deserves a medal for soldiering on. I mean they have been around since the 80s, but typically debuted as the decade turned and have been active ever since. For the best part of their career they’ve been fronted by the rather likable Rick Mythiasin, who’s only absent from 2004’s “Beware” album, where Nadir D’ Priest (London etc.) of all people provided vocals. For whatever reasons, Mythiasin announced that he’s no longer a part of the band and that he’s done for good a few years ago leading the group to seek another singer. A rather unlikely match for the LA based Americans, but the man that got the job is Germany based Mystic Prophecy frontman RD Liapakis. He’s not a bad match by any means, but his huskier, lower and frankly manlier tone is quite the departure from Mythiasin’s helium charged, but thinner highs that sounded like a weird mix between Tate and Cyriis and in my humble opinion casts some doubt on whether he could do the catalog justice without really having to rework the songs slightly. Still for the band to pick him, I guess he must have proven himself to be a capable man for the job.
 
I am not entirely sure of how far into the creative process Liapakis got involved with Steel Prophet, but he must have been with them long enough, since the songs not only feature vocal melodies that seem to fit him quite handsomely, but they are also a bit more melodic and dare I say European flavored. It just feels a little like Steel Prophecy or Mystic Prophet (hehe)…
 
While old time fans might have their issues, the band offers enough of an interesting angle in their amalgamated sound. “The God Machine” begins with an eponymous track which is a typical power metal number that’s in line with what Mystic Prophecy has been doing lately, but with a bit more conviction.
Things quickly move on with “Crucify” (unfortunately not an Army Of Lovers cover) a number that takes the template of the opener and pisses over it, with only some nice soloing to show for its efforts, as the simple chorus is a bit of a letdown.
 
“Thrashed Relentlessly” sees RD trying to go for more of a Dio vibe, but diversifies itself in interesting ways for the chorus, sounding like a bizarre mix between Virgin Steel at their wimpiest along with the flashier 80s sound of Priest, when their British Steel went a little dull for a few albums. Still its chorus and inspired soloing manage to make it quite the highlight.
 
“Dark Mask (Between Love and Hate)” begins typically but goes pretty soft and hard rock like for the chorus, thus sending mixed signals about its intentions. Still, while it’s not a song I ever expected to hear in a Steel Prophet album (Steel Panter neither, but it would feel more at home there), I can’t simply say it’s shit, cause it’s not…
 
“Damnation Calling” is a solid heavy yet melodic number that seems to take cues from Dio (the band), managing to score with a thick chorus, which might sound a little predictable, but gets the job done more than adequately.
 
With “Soulhunter” I feel the opposite than with most of the songs on the album. I like the “song” but the chorus feels just slightly off. It’s not bad, it just feels both predictable and not all that remarkable. Just not a perfect fit.
 
“Buried and Broken” is a ballad that gets electric midway that’s not terrible, but doesn’t do much for me.
 
“Lucifer / The Devil Inside”… is a bizarre quite cliché metal song – about the devil – shocking, I know... it does steer things into a more likable territory, true, but it’s probably a point in the album where excitement begins to subside.
 
“Fight, Kill” feels like a title Manowar would be proud of, but with harmonies that sound a bit more like Edguy… which makes for a weird ass combination, as it feels like two different songs massed up together. Can’t hate it, but love it, no… when it’s love – you know it.
 
“Life = Love = God Machine” closes the album and it not only has a hippy inspired title, but also a happier vibe, brighter vibe… that’s not exactly metal; I mean the band used to have a humorous side, but this is an odd hard rock number, which hardly fits with the rest of the album.
 
While definitely not the worst thing to bear the Steel Prophet logo, this feels like quite the departure both vocally, but also stylistically as Lia’s vocals tend to lead the entire album into a certain direction that I am not entirely sure is what Steel Prophet was all about.
 
Longtime fans might have a hard time adjusting to this. I don’t mind it and I think the band should be given a chance to prove themselves. I’d reserve formulating an opinion until after I’ve seen them perform older material, but it’s on the brink of either greatness or catastrophe, which is a thing that remains to be seen.