Due to the advent of current social justice trends, I am no longer allowed to identify an act as female fronted. Silly, I know – but that’s what I’m given and I’ll work with it. Regardless, we have the fantastic debut from Californian modern/power metallers Helion Prime which also features Witch Mountain frontwoman Kayla Dixon. It’s interesting to see her in this band, as they aren’t just an act with lyrics that focus on science-fiction, but scientific facts. Yeah, you heard me right. So if I use Alan Moore’s From Hell model, this would definitely have to be the left side of her brain (logic) where as the other act would accompany the right side (mysticism) and provides perfect musical balance. But aside from her amazing vocal performances (and truly, there are so many quality notes given here) these guys manage to pump the disc with hard-hitting bass that sometimes seems to meld completely with the drums creating just a sort of loud THUMP which ends up reverberating in my mind and gives it some semblance of thrash. Adding to that, we have several whirls of melody not too far-removed from modern thrash and power metal acts. There could be as much Trivium as there is Dragonforce here, but believe me – it sounds far better than both. Although whoever is playing the synths isn’t credited, they should be, because these little electronic touches add to the spatial atmosphere of the piece. Remember, from the minute “The Drake Equation” begins, we’re dealing with scientific theorems and how they might relate to the mysteries of the universe – it needs to sound like the band could be playing this on some distant moon, rather than a fantastical battlefield in Middle-Earth and that is captured here quite well.
Now there are some references that I can make to other acts in this genre like Seven Kingdoms and A Sound Of Thunder which are both just as proficient and leading the female vocal revolution in heavy metal as of late. We may have had the Halford and Dickinson-fronted male years back in the eighties, but as more women have stepped up to the plate to give this music a try, we’re now getting an approach that we should have gotten about twenty years ago. Better late than never, and these women are delivering it with a style and flair that is literally all their own. Instrumentally, all three acts would be considered a level of power metal as well, which is quite bizarre to me event though I’ve loved all of it. They’ve all been very consistent too, which is another action that I can praise. There is one kind of issue I took with the album though (and this has kind of a funny story behind it) as the disc’s sixth track “You Keep What You Kill” is it’s heaviest and features death metal vocals, which do not appear again on any one single-song on the album. I really hope “You Keep What You Kill” would not be used as a single or promotional video (use “The Drake Equation” or “Moon-Watcher” instead) because it would be selling listeners a power/death album, instead of a power metal album and this can be misleading. When I first listened to the album, I randomly selected this track and yeah, you can kind of guess what I was expecting from it. The burly death metal vocals offsetting the almost militant female tone seemed like a match made in hell for me. Unfortunately, that is just one track and in no way reflective of the full album.
I also need to note that while I have the actual disc version of this record, the Bandcamp version has been digitally available since 2016 and we’ll link to that. But that’s not all, because even though I’ve written Kayla Dixon as the vocalist here, she isn’t. According to Metal Archives, she has just joined the band and replaces original songwriter and vocalist, Heather Michelle. Michelle left the band recently, though I am not sure why – especially since she did a great deal of the songwriting, taking former drummer Justin Herzer with her. What happened? In any case, both musicians have been replaced and now I have no earthly idea as to what the next record from these guys will sound like. I will say that from the photo on the back cover of the album’s booklet, the frontwoman looked really pissed to be honest, quite like I’d expect to be glared at if I’d forgotten to take out the trash or something. (Fun Fact: Many marriages have ended simply because one person refused to take out the garbage. So don’t neglect it!) In any case, I guess the best thing that I can tell you is to enjoy the record for what it is and don’t let the massive lineup change take away your enjoyment from it. It is still a phenomenal power metal album with one of the best vocal approaches I’ve heard from a female frontwoman in the genre. Michelle’s voice was uncanny, so I’m still not really sure how they could replace it. Regardless of that, they released a new single called “Remnants Of Stars” so if you’re curious, I’ve added a video for that below.
(12 Tracks, 57:00)