Review: Mystic Prophecy – Hellriot
ROAR! Rock Of Angels Records (May 19th, 2023)
Reviewer: Jason Hopper
Unholy Hell! Nothing makes me feel like turning in my Metal card and credentials more than discovering a band that’s been around for over 20 years, never coming across their name, and realizing that I’ve been missing out all this time. Mystic Prophecy, a band that has been on several well-known labels, are about to release their twelfth album, ‘Hellriot‘. If this album is an exemplification of their overall career arch, then I must immediately seek out their back catalogue. It’s still a little early, but this may be the metal album of the year.
Where do I even begin with this masterpiece? The musicianship, arrangements, melody, production…it’s all excellent! There is not one bad song on this entire release, and I tend to nitpick every album I hear. You know what you’re getting in for right from the start. The title track kicks open the doors, grabs you by the neck, looks you dead in the eyes, and tells you to prepare for an ass kicking! From there you have a mix of scorching faster tracks (‘Demons of the Night’, ‘Rising with the Storm’) interspersed with mid-tempo yet incredibly heavy barnstormers (‘Paranoia’, ‘Road to Babylon’) and zero ballads. Like the best metal albums, there is a balance established between the songs that allow each track to breathe with a nice ebb and flow of sonics.
What makes this band so special and their sound so great to my ears? I like all different types of metal, but if I had to choose a favourite tone or approach, I would have to point to Judas Priest’s ‘Painkiller‘ as the ideal metal album. It is held in the highest regard and captures everything I love about the genre. Few albums can touch its perfection, but Mystic Prophecy has a shot at the title with this release. Heavy riffs, melodic, anthemic grooves and tones, and just the right amount of aggression and power.
Another aspect of the album that I appreciated; no song overstays its welcome. Many metal bands tend to throw a few “epic” tracks on their albums that go on for longer than six minutes. Not sure of the point that they are trying to prove, and certainly some of those songs are great, but most are overindulgent and boring. With Mystic Prophecy, no song makes it past the 4:15 mark, with most songs averaging 3½ minutes. Perfect. The songs get right to the point and once the message has come across, they move onto the next blistering track. More bands would do well to follow this model.
As briefly stated, the production on the album is top notch. Produced by their lead singer R.D. Liapakis and mixed and mastered by Henrik Udd, the pair do a masterful job to capture tone, levels and delivery with auditory precision. Along with the aforementioned ‘Painkiller‘, another recent metal album that impressed me with its production was Hammer King’s S/T album released two years ago. If you are familiar with either of these albums, then you know the quality of the sonics.
So…any criticisms? The only one I think may be a problem for some is the lyrical content. This band presents itself as the most “metallist” band to have ever “metaled” and the lyrics reflect this. All the tropes are there. Metal! Fire! More Metal!! Even More Fire!! Demons!!!…. you get the point. I do not mind such things when the music is presented the way that it is.
There are many subgenres in Metal, which has helped make the genre stronger and last over 50 years. Everyone has favourites and this album exemplifies mine. I’ve been playing this album nonstop for three days straight. I have other albums to review but they may have to wait a few more days for me to give them a fair shake as I am not ready to walk away from this album. This is essential for everyone who loves that old school heavy metal sound with pristine production and might. A tremendous release and a must buy!
- Unholy Hell
- Demons of the Night
- Metal Attack
- Revenge and Fire
- Rising with the Storm
- Road to Babylon
- Cross The Line
- World on Fire
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