I'll be the first to admit that when I became 'indoctrinated' with the Power Metal genre, I embraced the most obvious of brethren (i.e., Keeper Of The Seven Keys, Part II era Helloween, pre-Stu Block era Iced Earth and, to a lesser extent, The Triumph Of Steel and Louder Than Hell eras Manowar). While this certainly allowed me to embark upon a novitiate exploration, it prevented me from experiencing a true cross-section of everything it had to offer. As a result, you can only imagine my delight upon discovering Sacramento, California-based upstarts Helion Prime. Launched by guitarist Jason Ashcraft in 2014, they unleashed their Heather Michelle Smith (ex-Graveshadow)/“Life Finds A Way”-fueled full-length debut in 2015, immediately becoming the focus of intense international recognition. Now, with the group triumphantly returning via the often mighty Question Everything (2020), their latest and quite possibly greatest auditory offering(s) to date, their future remains incredibly bright.
On the brilliant Question Everything (2020), an expertly assembled eleven song collection of Power Metal, each track, beginning with the maddeningly infectious, synth-laden gem “The Final Theory” and the unlikely--albeit highly effective--Marie Curie tribute “Madame Mercury”, immediately commands the rapt and undivided attention of all parties involved, myself most definitely included. Wasting little--if any--time re-affirming their rightful place amid the upper echelon(s) of the genre, the group flexes their considerable creative muscles early and often by delivering the imaginative, hook-laden intensities the proverbial average listener (i.e., you the ever-vigilant reader) has come to expect. Firing on all cylinders early and often with a hard-earned and well-deserved sense of self-confidence, the group systematically builds upon the veritable tidal wave of momentum initiated with the release of their often ingenious sophomore full-length Terror Of The Cybernetic Space Monster (2018).
Continuing with the smoldering, acoustic-tinged “The Gadfly” and the fist-pumping, mosh-inducing “Word Of The Abbot” (featuring additional vocals from Dire Peril alumni John Yelland), the airtight--to say the very least--combination of vocalist Mary Zimmer (ex-Luna Mortis, replacing recently departed Harmonize frontman Sozos Michael), lead guitarist Chad Anderson (Dead Revelator, Disforia and Solar Guitars endorser), rhythm guitarist Jason Ashcraft, bassist Jeremy Steinhouse and drummer Alex Bosson drive home each key focal point with a sickening ease. Seemingly reinvigorated by the addition of the Wisconsin-born Zimmer, the group's now-trademark blend of vocal histrionics, blistering fretwork and imaginatively punishing rhythms reigns supreme as they deftly avoid the 'reinvent the wheel' mentality of their few contemporaries. Surging ahead with an almost sublime sense of precision, the group effortlessly exceeds all but the most overtly optimistic of fan expectations.
Easily the newly-rejuvenated group's most cohesive--and, as a result, entirely enjoyable--effort to date, other standouts, including the Smith, Sozos and Zimmer-led (!) “Question Everything” and a scalding rendition of the overlooked Michael Graves era Misfits staple “Kong At The Gates” effectively silence anyone still questioning their longevity. With Producers Chris 'The Wizard' Collier (Korn, Prong, Whitesnake) and Brett Caldas-Lima (Ayreon, Devin Townsend, SepticFlesh) as well as acclaimed graphic designer Marc Whisnant (BattleBorn, City Of Stages, Judicator) also lending their talents, the group wisely panders to their already notoriously thirsty fan- base. The resulting breathless yet well-timed indulgences at the epicenter of the near-lethal Question Everything serve as a much-welcomed preview of their burgeoning future. Only time will tell if they are indeed capable of bringing their unique and undeniably distinguished variation of the classic Power Metal tonalities to our masses.
Is it Helion Prime, Vol. II? Absolutely not. But then again, that's not the point, now is it? Having officially 'steadied' themselves with the addition of the multi-octave Zimmer, the majority--if not all--of the deliciously epic wares contained herein seethe with a palpable sense of urgency that truly demands our undivided attention. Even if you somehow find yourself less than enthralled with the group's truly unconventional (i.e., truthful and scientifically accurate yet undeniably exhilarating) lyrical vernacular, one must, at the very least sincere admire their ability to persevere in the midst of the most dire of promotional circumstances. Needless to say, if you've once again found yourself searching for a refreshingly thought-provoking and, for that matter, truly imaginative reprieve from the painfully blasé auditory atrocities that are so often the proverbial mainstream, then this, my friends, might just be the high-octane counterirritant for whatever ails you. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.
Question Everything (2020)
Terror Of The Cybernetic Space Monster (2018)
Helion Prime (2016)
The Drake Equation (EP) (2015)
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