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Can somebody explain me how can a band that have been for the best part of their career hiding in the shadow of Iron Maiden, releasing lacklustre after lacklustre album for the past 5 years at least, have made THIS?
The moment this kicks in, you are served to a down your spine brutal thrash riff that bands like Testament and Nevermore would kill to have, then you are immediately transported to something that resembles Iron Maiden, only it sounds million times better.
"It is a pleasure to burn", and you are hooked, amazed by the endless talent that Mythiasin is and always will be. Then you say: "It can't be though, I have heard these very guitarists, I have heard this drummer before, I have heard this fucking band before, they can't DO this".
Oh yes they can. Before you had time to think how cool the start was, the Iron Maiden part is over, and you are sent back to the good old heavy 80s: It sounds like The Legacy from Testament is all over here again. More than three melody changes? In a Steel Prophet song? Wait... you have not even seen the rest yet! Because more of this will keep on and then BANG! A solo begins... And trust me, you never thought that those guys could play so well, in fact you never thought that a guitar solo could ever sound SO fucking good. You just stand there sitting and listening, nailed to the same spot that found you with the amazing beggining.
And you won't make any move apart from the occasional unstoppable urge to headband to what is an amazing release that will remain untopped not only from Steel Prophet themselves, but any other metal band out there. Simply put, there are few albums out there that can capture such an aggressiveness, such an emotion, such a true heavy metal feeling, and top it with such an execution, such talent and such inspiration.
Some bands make their mark in history just with a single album, an album that is a benchmark for all others. For Steel Prophet, Dark Hallucinations is this very album; a masterpiece, above and beyond stuff like any thrash, heavy power or progressive metal band would ever dream for. And sometimes it makes me wonder: Since those guys at Steel Prophet COULD do this, why have they wasted all their lives in the shadow of the repetitive, uninspired, boring Iron Maiden? Couldn't they have found something better to do all those years? Perhaps teach those idiots in other bands how METAL is really written, like they did with Dark Hallucinations?
I love this goddamn album, but it's never talked about among Steel Prophet fans often. It's always Messiah this, or Book of the Dead that. This is my favorite of theirs, and in fact the only album they've done that I can listen to regularly. It's better than most of their standard power metal fare, as it's part speed metal, part power metal, part thrash, even kind of progressive in places. Best of all, they don't forget that they're HEAVY metal. The album opens right up with a heavy opener, "Montag", which opens up kind of standard trad metalish with some monstrous drumming until it breaks into dual melodies on guitars, and when the song gets going, Rick & crew send the adrenaline rushing through your veins. "It's a pleasuuure...to BURN!" Greatest opening line I've heard in who knows how long! In case you're wondering what "Montag" means, this is a concept album, as the lyrics are based on Ray Bradbury's book Fahrenheit 451 (a very good book, I might add). It's all very well written here, never really toeing the line of cheesiness, and the lyrics are done vaguely enough so that you can appreciate them without having read the book. Some tracks like New Life are beautiful, mellow parts that get heavier occasionally, while other songs like Strange Encounter are all-out speedfests. Plenty of versatility here, with very strong musicianship to back it up and great attention to songwriting. Of course, Rick Mythiasin's Dickinson-esque vocals are terrific, and he's not yet in the Bruce-worshipping mode that some fans criticise him for on later releases. All in all, a terrific and dark release of somewhat technical power/thrash that must be checked out.