Holy mother of hell this is awesome. Picture this: female fronted power metal that is NOT over the top cheesy or cringeworthy in the slightest. Actually, let’s just put that as a female fronted power metal band that isn’t over the top at all. Hell we could simplify that to a power metal band that isn’t over the top, but it’s more impressive with a factor that’s often used as a detriment. When you think of female fronted power metal bands, you think of shit like Epica and Nightwish, shit that just goes above and beyond corsetcore. Not that those bands are inherently bad, but it’s certainly something you’re going to take with big old grain of “the people who listen to this probably masturbate to Harry Potter fanfiction” salt. In general, power metal bands with female vocals always have this feeling that while it sounds nice, a male voice would feel more natural. Helion Prime doesn’t give a fuck about that. They don’t care about any preconceived notions of what power metal should sounds and they do that in the best way possible: they accept all preconceived notions of what a power metal band should sounds like, and abide by them.
I know that sounds a bit confusing, so let me explain. One of the reasons women are not seen as much in metal is because of how masculine the genre is. Songs about gore, guts, satan, and drugs doesn’t sound like what a typical girl would foray into. And the community takes good measure to keep it that way, being sort of a no girls allowed club. That takes a step further with power metal. Power metal is stereotypically all about dragons, warriors, history, and lots of men doing manly things. It is the stereotypical metal for nerdy white men. Hell, Visigoth made an album literally about DnD last year. Power metal is the ultimate anti-girl vaccine. So naturally people tend to assume when an icky girl is involved in their just for men metal, it’s going to be subdued, lighter, and have cooties all over it. Going away from power metal for a second, it’s the reason people hate Myrkur so much, because she took something as dark, evil, and manly as black metal, and supposedly lightened it up.
Helion Prime doesn’t do that. This s/t is a concept album about fighting aliens in outer space. The vocals that had the potential to be so misused, not only are on par with what a male vocalist could do, it sounds BETTER. It gives the music a lighter, more upbeat quality, but not in a way that makes the story and tone of the album any less impactful. It doesn’t feel handicapped, it just feels different in a good way. I know I went on a lot about one aspect of the album, but I just wanted to hammer home how awesome I think it is that a band can break the gender barrier in a correct way: by not changing a damn thing of the genre to fit a more feminine style.
Onto other aspects here, the choruses are unbelievably catchy, especially on tracks like Life Finds a Way. There’s a sense that a lot of work was put in to every individual song to feel distinct and memorable. It doesn’t have the massive amount of gadgets and gizmos that all the other big production bands. There are no symphony orchestras, not folk instruments, no skits, nothing. It doesn’t do anything fancy, and comes out as feeling refreshingly natural. It just flows through so well, with every track feeling like a distinct moment in the story. Even though there is a moderate amount of chugging here, it feels more like a tool to establish rhythm rather than just filler (in about 95% of the cases, there are times where it slips into filler territory just a bit). The one negative thing I can really say here is the solo work ranges from pretty good to mediocre. I kept waiting for that one amazing solo to blow me away, and I kind of got it at Ocean of Time, but everything else just felt ok, nothing more.
Other than that, this is a fantastic work of power metal that besides breaking gender tropes, is also an amazing piece of music. Tumblr, if you’re looking for an album to actually show that women can do just as well as men in metal, please choose this one.