STEEL PROPHET's been around forever, and the good news for their loyal fans is the return of Rick Mythiasin to the mike for the band's latest album, "Omniscient". Tied in to a sci-fi story written by guitarist Steve Kachinsky Blakmoor, "Omniscient" could've been gangbusters. STEEL PROPHET certainly plays like gangbusters and corrals a slew of backing performers on this album, but at times, lack of tighter lines and scrappy mixes do in some of the numbers.
It's the faster tracks "When I Remake the World (A Key Flaw)", "911" and "Chariots of the Gods" where STEEL PROPHET excels and frankly, the excitability that make these songs piston poppers often plays foil against the band on slower tracks. When STEEL PROPHET flies, they have a tendency to reflect AGENT STEEL and they yield flickers of HELLOWEEN. When "911" (a song about, you guessed it, the Twin Towers tragedy) breaks off from the slower moments, the shredding from Steve Kachinsky Blakmoor and Chris Schleyer is stellar. Bassist Vince Dennis (known as Vince Price in Ice T's BODY COUNT) hums behind them and Jimmy Schultz pummels away with a perfect rhythm.
While Blakmoor and Schleyer shadow one another and weave gorgeous harmonies all over the album, the faster they go, the more impressive they sound. Guest guitarist Jon Paget is likewise up to it on "Funeral for Art". "Chariots of the Gods" finds Blakmoor and Schleyer spooling like speed demons through some gorgeous waves in tandem. One really feels swept away by the track, despite an off-key slowdown with some over-the-top wailing from Rick Mythiasin before STEEL PROPHET kicks it back into zoom mode.
"The Tree of Knowledge" keeps the steam chugging on the verses before swapping in some mid-tempo plugs. Unfortunately, Rick Mythiasin's vocals roll behind the song's flow at times, which is perhaps a fault in the mix. Afterwards, Mythiasin hits some outrageous falsettos amidst the sarcastic "666 is Everywhere (The Heavy Metal Blues)". Speaking of outrageous, what is that 1:19 nutty interlude, "Oleander Deux?" At least the instrumental "Call of Katahdin" (also 1:19, oddly enough) fits the album's sci-fi theme better.
The headstrong NWOBHM-cooked chug of "Aliens, Spaceships and Richard M. Nixon" kicks some major tail on the verses with gnashing riffs and decorative guitar floats before STEEL PROPHET spirals about "Through Time and Space". The latter changes directions between soothing prog, power strides and slapped-around quasi thrash. For all that's going on with "Through Time and Space", however, it backfires in a few spots due to overzealousness.
STEEL PROPHET's ornate though unneeded cover of QUEEN's "Bohemian Rhapsody" sets up the busy-as-sin closer "1984 (George Orwell is Rolling in His Grave)", and there ends a peculiar but often entertaining album. For all intents and purposes, this is a cult band with a dedicated following who've waited many years (the project was first begun in 2007) for the culmination of this album. Fans will either be blown away or mildly put off by "Omniscient", but the return of Rick Mythiasin should allay any misgivings.