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Black Reign > Legion > Reviews > Xeogred

To surpass the Masters of Metal? - Cyriis Pt. 2 - 90%

Xeogred, January 18th, 2017

After the Cyriis era of Agent Steel folded, John Cyriis would transform into Father Damien and with drummer Chuck Profus immediately in 1988 constructed Pontius Prophet releasing only a short two track demo that carried on Agent Steel's sound from the Skeptics era. Nothing more would come out of Pontius Prophet and credits show they folded in that same year. The alien overlord wasn't going to disappear just yet though and in 1990 he transforms into his final form, Max Kobol! Enter Black Reign.

I suspect that Cyriis put a lot more into writing this material across 1988 and 1990 as it's about as creative as it gets and far more complex than Pontius Prophet. To be completely obnoxious about genre labeling, I want to say this is perhaps a single ultra rare case of something I would call speed/power. It's usually just power/thrash that blends together, or speed/thrash that's more melodic and less bay area, or you can always expect different branches of power metal to incorporate a lot of speed. But something about this feels different, still having that iconic speed metal DNA that flowed into everything Cyriis ever touched, while these songs are utterly dense with virtuous skills from the three man team. All topped off with that obscure 80's power metal dungeon atmosphere. Maybe it's just the mix of the demo, but I don't really get the dungeon vibes from Pontius Prophet and certainly not Agent Steel. So those are why this feels like an interesting blend of speed/power and sets itself apart from anything else Cyriis had done.

The other differing highlight is Cyriis' vocals here. Cyriis goes bonkers constantly hovering in the higher registers and injects these songs with a ton of his own backing vocals and multi-tracking. This is John Cyriis completely unleashed and unchained and feels like further evidence that a lot more work was put into this than his Pontius Prophet project. Chuck Profus returns for drums and handles the new style effortlessly, breaking into a stampede of speed whenever necessary. The obscure third man Rolo Macias covering guitars and bass is no pushover whatsoever, making this one of the most technically impressive releases Cyriis was involved with. Imagine a darker take on Unstoppable Force with guitars just as obtuse as Bernie Versailles' style while Rolo makes it his own. The production leaves a bit to be desired as usual with an obscure demo and there are apparently several rips at different speeds, so dig around for all of them to compare. All three songs are completely off the chain with dozens of cool ideas and interesting hooks, there's just nothing quite like this one. Frankly this demo is so damn awesome and impressive that I think a Black Reign full length would have had all the potential to surpass Agent Steel's classics. Insanely creative music here, if you're fan of Cyriis and want a taste of speed/power, this is a gem.