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CD REVIEW

HELION PRIME
Terror Of The Cybernetic Space Monster
AFM Records

After a very promising start with their first LP, Helion Prime started running into difficulties in the vocalist department. Heather Michele Smith left the band to concentrate on Graveshadow, to be replaced by Witch Mountain's Kayla Dixon -- whose undeniable vocal talents didn't overcome her inability to click with the rest of the members, and who exited within a year, replaced by a male vocalist this time. Terror of the Cybernetic Space Monster sticks to the same science fiction themes that characterized the debut, but the sophomore album proves that the real success of Helion Prime lay more in its catchy melodies than in lyrics about Vin Diesel movies or scientific theories.

The reliance Helion Prime's sound has on pretty vocal melodies certainly explains the trouble the band was put to when replacing their leading lady, but they've found someone who can pick up the baton. Sozos Michael proves to be a solid choice in the pipes department, hitting the high notes with no effort at all and providing harmonies just as smooth as Heather Michele could have. In fact, I have a strong suspicion that some of these songs were written with Smith or Dixon in mind originally, as some of those harmonies could use a liberal infusion of testosterone. The chugging of Jason Ashcraft's rhythm guitars, heavily flavored with gallop riffs, play against the harmonized leads just as well as on the album's self-titled predecessor, and every so often, we get something like Urth, a fast-paced melodic piece that is a pleasure to listen to, or Spectrum, which has Sozos putting more emotion into its introspective lyrics than he's normally called upon to do on this album.

But there are few, if any, real sing-along moments on Terror of the Cybernetic Space Monster, and that's too bad, because catchy tunes are practically a must for this genre of music. Part of it may be that all those soft harmonies sounded a lot better with a female vocalist, which may be why Unleash the Archers' Brittany Hayes is helping out here with guest vocals. But even Heather Michele Smith's soaring voice probably couldn't have lifted up some of these nearly hook-free tunes. The self-titled epic piece at the end steps out on a limb that can't bear its weight, and its seventeen-minute length might have the most die-hard fans ready to launch it out of the airlock after a while.

Helion Prime put a strong effort into this one, though it's nowhere near as memorable as their debut. It's competently made and it's played by a very strong lineup, only getting into trouble when the band bites off more than they can chew.

Andy quoted 80 / 100

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CD REVIEW
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HELION PRIME
Terror Of The Cybernetic Space Monster
AFM Records
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