The God Machine, the latest offering from U.S. power metal mainstays Steel Prophet, largely succeeds at being a musical one-stop shop for head bangers. The lyrics of the pseudo-concept album offer stark warnings for a world on the brink of collapse as an all-powerful entity makes contact. The messages and exploits of The God Machine character are laced throughout several songs, accompanied by furious rhythms, fast riffing and choruses that could whip an arena into a frenzy.
Prophecies of civilization’s impending doom via “Soulhunter” and “Damnation Calling” and war and violence through “Thrashed Relentlessly,” are bookended by the title track and “Life=Love=God Machine,” offering a brief glimpse of hope.
The God Machine marks the Los Angeles-based band’s 13th full-length album since 1990 and the first to feature R.D. Liapakis on vocals, who also sings for German power metallers Mystic Prophecy, following the departure of longtime singer Rick Mythiasin in 2015. But the new blood seems to have revitalized Steel Prophet. The group’s energy and the album’s narrative warrant vocal melodies with a sense of urgency and sincerity, which Liapakis delivers. The singer’s voice often reaches a slightly raspy alto, comparable to former Metal Church wailer Ronny Munroe, though with a bit more necessary harmonizing.
While the sound might not be entirely unique, Steel Prophet’s charm lies in the ability to pay homage to genre pioneers like Iron Maiden through hallowed marks of heavy metal classics; a song like “Dark Mask” has speedy licks and solos complemented by fat basslines and infectious vocals which can keep audiences engaged with fists pumped in the air.
With only one song breaking the five-minute mark, fans of European metal, like Paragon and especially Iron Maiden’s late 1980s output, would do well to welcome a world ruled by The God Machine.