Author: Larry Best
(Maple Metal Records, 2015)
#FOR FANS OF: Heavy/Power, early Primal Fear
More tales of warriors, kings, legends and dragons? Yes please! Sonic Prophecy, a sextet of Americans, are forging their path through our beloved genre in their own way. Nothing they're doing may be considered particularly innovative or original, but then what is these days? However, some of their techniques and compositional devices are somewhat quirky, especially considering their nationality. One thing's for sure, their entry for 2015 is nothing if not huge! At a whopping 1 hour 13 minutes, Sonic Prophecy are making sure there is quality stashed somewhere in that quantity. The production isn't quite spectacular - the guitar tone is a bit mellow, and a little engulfed by the bass (that's a first!). But fortunately, the folk instruments and Shane Provtgaard's mid-pitched vocals are well mixed. These two aspects are probably the stars of"Apocalyptic Promenade". Provtgaard has a warm, welcoming voice - and is able to portray a sense of storytelling through the fantastical lyrics. The folk instrumentation is a sheer delight, acting as the multi-coloured sprinkles on this cake of power metal. Regarding their debut album, "A Divine Act Of War", this new effort has slightly dampened the conventions they had previously established; lacking such energetic hymns as "Call To Battle" or the crunching headbangers like "Heavy Artillery". On "Apocalyptic Promenade", the youthful vibrancy is missing and songs feel dragged out to far longer than they're worth. Circa 2011, you could confuse this band for a young Primal Fear, but circa 2015, they seem more like latter day Judas Priest. This is by no means a negative remark, but it does sap a little of the energy out of their songwriting. There are plenty of positives scattered about this album though. Choosing to open your album with a 13-minute epic is a risky move, but "Oracle of the Damned/The Fist of God"is such a well-composed, structurally sound piece of metal, it proved a totally worthwhile decision. This helps set up the narrative characteristic of the album which, thankfully, holds steadfast throughout. The majority of tracks on "Apocalyptic Promenade" are mid-tempo and average around 6:30 each. The swaying waltz of "Legendary" and the brooding melodies of "The Warrior's Heart" are definitely the stand-outs that thrive in this structure. Rather than an up-tempo gallop through a fantasmic land of dragons and warriors, this feels more like a calm amble across a meadow of long grass. A ... promenade, if you will? Nothing about it is unpleasant or outright bad - there are plenty of sweeping melodies and grandiose ideas. It would just be a refreshing change if they were to return to the celestial ways of their debut.