STEEL PROPHET – Omniscient
Another lengthy layoff between studio recordings for this veteran California power/ progressive metal outfit. Their last album "Beware" hit the streets a decade ago in 2004, sans primary vocalist Rick Mythiasin as ex-London singer Nadir D’Priest took over the microphone reins. Since then they’ve seen many of their early albums re-issued in either CD or vinyl formats, and Rick rejoined the group. "Omniscient" has a lot of that layered guitar sound that long-timers have come to expect: taking melody and harmonies to new levels in minor (and major) ways.
Steve Kachinsky knows the art of power metal, studies at the mastery of early Rainbow, Queen, and Iron Maiden – along with a hefty dose of love for Fates Warning – and as such you don’t hear bands that can rip out the precise picking, speed, and accuracy that you’ll hear from Steel Prophet within "Trickery of the Scourge" and "Chariots of the Gods" among others. That old school epic gallop that Iron Maiden made a staple in "To Tame a Land" or "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" comes up in ideal spots for the powerful "The Tree of Knowledge", where Rick showcases a lot of high range mastery – and yet the song goes by in a tidy 3:51.
I get the feeling that amidst these 14 songs, there is degree of incorporating what made the band successful on albums such as "Into the Void" and "Dark Hallucinations" – while keeping things current in terms of adding narrative whispering parts, Vince De Juan Dennis’ exemplary bass execution (check out "666 Is Everywhere") and progressive drumming that is challenging, exciting, and still maintaining a solid pocket presence. Rick doesn’t always feel the need to reach the stratosphere – he can be equally adept and chilling from a lower to mid-range perspective on "Aliens, Spaceships and Richard M."
Never mind the reflective echoing guitar parts that make "Through Time and Space" another future Steel Prophet classic in their catalog, as well as tackling one of the iconic Queen songs in "Bohemian Rhapsody" (not my favorite as Freddie Mercury made this his signature cut). Closing with the George Orwell vision fueled "1984", "Omniscient" is an hour plus journey that needs numerous listening sessions to wrap your head around these songs- which can be a good thing if you love melodic power/ progressive metal, but a bad thing if simplicity is your preferred aural method of ingestion.
Where do I think this album stands in their impressive catalog? I’d say it’s ranking up there with "Into the Void" for my tastes – which means Steel Prophet are doing just fine in 2014.