It’s only been two years since Helion Prime’s self-titled debut album, but the power metal group experienced several shakeups in that time. Acquiring a new drummer and lead guitarist would be noteworthy enough, but the singer turnovers which one point had Witch Mountain’s Kayla Dixon involved put the band on uncertain ground. It’s gotten to a point where the over the top alien dinosaur robot motif ends up being a reassuring friendly face on their second outing, Terror of the Cybernetic Space Monster.
Fortunately, the actual music does pick up right where the debut left off. The guitars keep a processed sheen that still allows for a bottom-heavy crunch, the drums boast plenty of fills and double bass beats, and an array of keyboards and sound effects round things out well. New vocalist Sozos Michael has a more flamboyant style compared to previous vocalist Heather Michele Smith’s borderline poppy approach, but his Tony Kakko-esque wail sufficiently delivers the tried and true tales of pop culture sci-fi.
Unfortunately, the songwriting isn’t quite as effective this time around. The songs are competently structured, but the hooks just aren’t as catchy as those on the debut. I wouldn’t blame it on the lineup changes too much as guitarist Jason Ashcraft is clearly the mastermind of both efforts, but it doesn’t help that I could easily see the original singer delivering this material just as well, if not a smidge better. That said, “The Human Condition” and “Urth” come closest to capturing that vibe, and I can appreciate the more introspective themes on lead single “Spectrum.”
The title track also proves to be an intriguing but ultimately superfluous addition. The inclusion of multiple singers helps make the narrative more palpable and the dynamics hit all the checkpoints required for a seventeen-minute epic, but these elements just aren’t enough to take it to a higher level. It may take extra listens to get a feel for, but the other songs would’ve worked just as well without it.
Helion Prime’s geeky brand of power metal has endured the setbacks thrown at them, but their second full-length album seems to have lost that singalong fun factor in the process. That sense of purpose can still be felt throughout and nothing in the musicianship or style is too alienating, but it seems less focused than the debut. I wouldn’t encourage anybody who liked the debut from checking this one out, but I also hope that the band will find the stability needed to craft a truly definitive follow-up.
“The Human Condition”