Helion Prime – Terror of the Cybernetic Space Monster – Album Review

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Artist: Helion Prime

Album Title: Terror of the Cybernetic Space Monster

Label: AFM Records

Date of Release: 31 August 2018

A mere two years on from their self-titled debut, Sacramento’s science-based and dinosaur-obsessed melodic power metal band Helion Prime return with their sophomore studio album, the slightly absurdly-titled ‘Terror Of The Cybernetic Space Monster’. It doesn’t really roll off the tongue does it? And as if that and naming your band after a planet featured in the film ‘The Chronicles of Riddick’ wasn’t enough, there’s the American’s mascot. Whereas Iron Maiden have Eddie, Megadeth have Vic Rattlehead and Iced Earth have Set Abominae, Helion Prime have Saibot, a Tyrannosaurus-style dinosaur dressed in armour.

I suppose if you’re going to do it, you may as well commit wholeheartedly to the cause. And with Helion Prime, there are certainly no half-measures where the fripperies are concerned.

I must admit, as much as I enjoy the silliness that some heavy metal bands dish up – Manowar, Rhapsody/Rhapsody Of Fire/LucaTurilli’s Rhapsody (delete as appropriate) and Gwar, I’m looking at you – I can’t help but think that Helion Prime are almost taking things a little too far. Prosthetics, I can defend, corpse paint I can deal with, and songs about elves in forests? Bring it on. But a dinosaur clad in space armour? I’m struggling.

The biggest problem with Helion Prime however, is that despite all their rampant eccentricities, I can’t help but enjoy their music. In fact, having lived with this record for a couple of weeks now, I can safely say that ‘Terror of the Cybernetic Space Monster’ (stifles a titter) contains some genuine ‘A Grade’ melodic power metal, the type that allows you to forget all the little flaws and draws you in to the cause in spite of your better judgement. So let’s embrace the silliness.

Helion Prime have not been without their problems either. Their debut featured the commendable vocal talents of Heather Michelle, who was replaced by Kayla Dixon soon after the debut was released. However, the vocalist merry-go-round has continued apace with Dixon now replaced by Sozos Michael, somewhat surprisingly a male vocalist given the band’s past preferences in that department.

And yet, even on this score, Helion Prime seem to have come up smelling of roses, because Michael is an admirable choice – he has an impressive set of lungs and a delivery that is both resonant and commanding. At the same time he ably demonstrates an ability to hit a fair few high notes and sing with a certain femininity in places, specifically when he sings in a quieter, more reserved fashion. Indeed, it wasn’t until a good couple of songs into my first listen to the record that I was entirely certain about the gender of Michael. And I mean this in a positive, complimentary manner, certainly not disparagingly in any shape or form. His range is impressive and he is able to cover many bases throughout this record.

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After the ubiquitous instrumental intro, ‘Terror…’ explodes into life with ‘A King Is Born’, a high-tempo, blood-and-guts, come out fighting melodic power metal track. It is thoroughly infectious in terms of the melodies that are deployed, particularly within the massive chorus, but also because of the sheer exuberant energy that courses through the song. The riffs of Jason Ashcraft and Chad Anderson are crunchy and with enough bottom end to provide some metal gravitas, whilst the drumming of Alex Bosson and bass work of Jeremy Steinhouse work in tandem to lay down a more than solid rhythmic foundation. Even the lyrics which, to paraphrase include (I’m not kidding) ‘DNA from ancient reptiles…Cretaceous overlord…the king of dinosaurs’ don’t put me off from liking this track, because the preposterous words are sung with 100% commitment and impressively by Michael. If you’re going to be silly, you may as well go the whole nine yards.

‘Bury The Sun’ is a slightly shorter, even faster number with a hint of spiky, confrontational thrash in the opening riff. And then the song opens up briefly to offer as glimpse into the future, the glorious chorus to be exact, complete with some lovely guitar harmonies. The double-pedal drumming is furious when it appears and I love the ensuing guitar solos that find themselves playing on top of a galloping, Maiden-sque beat.

For an American band, there’s a hell of a lot of European power metal worship within ‘Terror…’, too. One of the biggest examples of this being the Dragonforce-meets-Stratovarius-isms of ‘Urth’, which has a sprawling, syrup-sweet chorus with impossibly high singing overlaying an almost exclusively brisk tempo led by the double-pedal drumming of Bosson and fast-picked riffs. There’s even a stadium-friendly ‘oh-oh-ah-oh’ sing-along opportunity for good measure.

The final song on ‘Terror…’ is the title track and given the lunacy that surrounds the title of the record, the lyrical themes and everything else, it stands to reason that the album should end with a 17-minute epic composition. It’s a noble attempt at a lengthy epic but, if I’m honest, I’m not entirely sure that it warrants being quite this long. There are some great parts, such as the early vocal performance of Michael, who underlines his credentials early in the song with a passionate and powerful display. Then, as the track develops, some ear-catching and grandiose melodies are introduced and there are some cool riffs and plenty of solos that join the fray. There is even room for guest vocals including Unleash The Archers’ Brittney Hayes (AKA Brittney Slayes) . However, it does plod at times, losing impetus whilst at others, it comes across as being a little too overblown, self-indulgent and pretentious. Personally, I’d have preferred another couple of tracks like ‘A King Is Born’ or the excellent ‘Silent Skies’ which directly precedes the title track and has more urgency and focus, not to mention some of the strongest melodies on the record, killer double-pedal drumming and possibly Michael’s best singing anywhere on the album.

Overall, I really do enjoy the majority of the music on ‘Terror of The Cybernetic Space Monster’, so much so that it transcends the elements that I struggle with. Sometimes power metal should be silly and Helion Prime prove that they can be silly whilst also maintaining enough seriousness to create some high quality and thoroughly enjoyable music. I can’t think that any power metal fan won’t find something significant to like here and so this record is definitely one I recommend you check out.

The Score of Much Metal: 8.5

If you’ve enjoyed this review, you can check out my others from 2018 and from previous years right here:

2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

Madder Mortem – Marrow
A Dying Planet – Facing The Incurable
Árstíðir – Nivalis
Mob Rules – Beast Reborn
The Spirit – Sounds From The Vortex
Aethereus – Absentia
Unanimated – Annihilation
Manticora – To Kill To Live To Kill
Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name
Halcyon Way – Bloody But Unbowed
Michael Romeo – War Of The Worlds, Part 1
Redemption – Long Night’s Journey Into Day
Distorted Harmony – A Way Out
Tomorrow’s Eve – Mirror of Creation III – Project Ikaros
Atrocity – Okkult II
Lux Terminus – The Courage To Be
Kataklysm – Meditations
Marduk – Viktoria
Midas Fall – Evaporate
The Sea Within – The Sea Within
Haken – L-1VE
Follow The Cipher – Follow The Cipher
Spock’s Beard – Noise Floor
Ihsahn – Amr
The Fierce And The Dead – The Euphoric
Millennial Reign – The Great Divide
Subsignal – La Muerta
At The Gates – To Drink From The Night Itself
Dimmu Borgir – Eonian
Hekz – Invicta
Widow’s Peak – Graceless EP
Ivar Bjørnson and Einar Selvik – Hugsjá
Frequency Drift – Letters to Maro
Æpoch – Awakening Inception
Crematory – Oblivion
Wallachia – Monumental Heresy
Skeletal Remains – Devouring Mortality
MØL – Jord
Aesthesys – Achromata
Kamelot – The Shadow Theory
Barren Earth – A Complex of Cages
Memoriam – The Silent Vigil
Kino – Radio Voltaire
Borealis – The Offering
W.E.T. – Earthrage
Auri – Auri
Purest of Pain – Solipsis
Susperia – The Lyricist
Structural Disorder – …And The Cage Crumbles In the Final Scene
Necrophobic – Mark of the Necrogram
Divine Realm – Nordicity
Oceans of Slumber – The Banished Heart
Poem – Unique
Gleb Kolyadin – Gleb Kolyadin
Apathy Noir – Black Soil
Deathwhite – For A Black Tomorrow
Conjurer – Mire
Jukub Zytecki – Feather Bed/Ladder Head
Lione/Conti – Lione/Conti
Usurpress – Interregnum
Kælling – Lacuna
Vinide – Reveal
Armored Dawn – Barbarians In Black
Long Distance Calling – Boundless
In Vain – Currents
Harakiri For The Sky – Arson
Orphaned Land – Unsung Prophets And Dead Messiahs
Tribulation – Down Below
Machine Head – Catharsis
Bjorn Riis – Coming Home EP
Twilight’s Embrace – Penance EP
Bloodshot Dawn – Reanimation
Rise of Avernus – Eigengrau
Arch Echo – Arch Echo
Asenblut – Legenden
Bleeding Gods – Dodekathlon
Watain – Trident Wolf Eclipse

2 Thoughts

  1. I really wanted to enjoy this album, but I have to completely disagree with the reviewer’s take on the new vocalist. Sozos Michael’s voice is pretty much unbearable in this release, too uneven, it sounds like me when I try to sing (I mostly sing like garbage, so I only do it alone or karaoke while drinking) . I love everything else about the album, the lyrics themselves, the guitar work, drums, everything else is just spot on awesome. Sadly, I think I’m going to have to remove the new album from my library.

    1. Hey Brandon, thanks for taking the time to comment on my review. I appreciate the points you make – music is subjective so we’ll never all agree on everything, which is cool with me. For example, I’m crucified for my dislike of Opeth & Tool, but i have to be honest. I personally quite like Michael’s voice and enjoy the album – but the whole thing isn’t a world beater if I’m honest. Very solid though. Cheers.

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