I remember my first experience with Prototype, it was in Guitar Hero III, with their song “The Way it Ends“. That was a notoriously difficult song, myself only three-starring it on hard. That said, plastic guitars aren’t my strong suit but it had the most difficult cords to master of all the bonus songs. Still, the song was catchy and fun to play, despite being occasionally frustaing and I still keep playing to get the coveted five stars. I hadn’t gone in search of more music by Prototype though, but as soon as I heard the first track of this album, “Catalyst”, I knew right away what I would be in for, and I was not dissapointed.
Prototype are considered a more agressive form of progressive metal which I could only describe as Dream Theatre meets Nu Metal. That likely sounds like a terrible pairing but once you hear the epic guitar riffs combined with heavier vocals and moving away from the album-long solo’s, you come to realize that it actually makes for a great fusion. Kragen (guitar) and Vince (Vocals and guitar), formerly of LA thrash band Psychosis, are the founding members of Prototype and they bring quite a bit of experience to the table.
The album starts off with a brief, melodic intro titled “Inceptum” which seems as though it might lead into the next track, but it cuts off and then Catalyst, the title track, assaults you with a dirty guitar riff then which continues in the background while the vocals burn in with a grittiness not like anything I am familiar with. The tense drums add some speed to the mix and it blends together creating a wonderful yet raw melody.
The more progressive elements shine through on the next track, “Cynic Dreams”, as the guitars become less repetitive and jump out occasionally to remind you that there is a mind behind the sound, not just rough vocals and deep lyrics. The guitar work really explodes about half way through the track with amazing speed, melody and structure. Then it all slows down to a dreamy pace letting the guitars bleed into the vocals and the intensity cranks back up to 10 creating a veritable landscape of guitar magic.
As the album progresses it displays all these elements in variable amounts across the songs, sticking with the rough yet not angry vocals and amazing guitar with the percussion to keep the rhythm on time. The lyrics are quite befitting of the musical style as they not only serve a mode for the vocals to compliment the rest of teh music but they are actually varied, deep and thought-provoking. The lyrics deal with metaphorical concepts, humanity, history and faith. Its quite personal and with so much going on in the music I found I had to listen multiple times to really pick out everything in each song and see how it all fit together.
The album closes out with an upbeat track, “Communion”, filled to the brim with guitar exposition and dynamic melody and the haunting ”evolution reborn” repeated throughout. Front to back this album exceeded my expectations and shows how much the band has grown since I heard their 2006 effort off the album Continuum.