Sound: This is the first full length album from arguably the most underatted band in the USA. Prototype, formed in 1994 by guitarists Kragen Lum and Vince Levalois, have a sound like no other, taking the best aspects of Progressive, Thrash, and even some blues elements, and combining them all together with their own stylish and somewhat futuristic elements. While popularity has eluded them for quite some time now, there is absolutely no denying the quartet's talent. Trinity, released in South America in 2001, North America in 2002, and Europe in 2004, is not only a wonderful piece of progressive/thrash metal, but also perhaps the first album of it's kind to utilize this type of music style.
Prototype sounds on one hand like nothing I have ever heard before, but at the same time seems to ring a familiar bell in my head. The band takes many influences from previous prog and thrash metal bands, some of which might be easy to hear (Dream Theater, Metallica) and some of which might be elusive to a first time listener (Rush, Pink Floyd). It is by no means copying however, as Prototype infuse these cues from past rock ledgends with a style all their own.
The guitar work is phenomenal. Unlike some bands out there nowadays that seem to take soloing into overkill, (*cough*, Dragonforce, *cough*, Necrophagist *cough*) each solo on this album seems to have special care and attention put into it, perfectly balancing out complexity and pleasurable sounds all at once (check out the solos in Pure, Trinity, Shine, and Mind in Motion). Speaking of balance, the songs themselves seem to have just the right amount of chugging and feirce riffing, combined with many proggy, thoughtful, and melodic moments. The amazing part is that it never feels forced at any time. The clean sounds these boys can get out of their axes is also something that will make you stop and wonder. It is not at all twangy, but rather like the actual vibrations of the strings (think early Dream Theater). Bass work is top notch, sometimes even joining in to whip out a few solos as well (see Trinity, Dead of Jericho, Relativity, and Chrysalis).
The drumming is extremely precise and technical, at times even reaching death metal speeds. How good is it? Lets just say it looks like Neil Peart and Mike Portnoy may have some competition coming their way. It really does sound like rush at times, but with a somewhat more metallic style. // 10
Lyrics: The vocals are usually what cause some people to either love or hate Prototype. Rather than a high power voice such as James Labrie, Bruce Dickinson, or Z.P. Theart, Vince Levalois gravitates more towards the traditional James Hetfield style of singing. No doubt the singing takes some adjusting to, but after a couple listens, you start to appreciate the sound. Vince may not have the best voice, (although he is playing very technical guitar at the same time) but it seems to fit the style very well, and brings back the times when metal singers really sounded like metal singers (Metallica, Megadeth).
After several listens, it appears most of the less than stellar vocals in fact comes from the bassist who also performs as a back up vocalist. In my honest opinion, Vince puts on a very good performance, considering most of the horrible vocal work we hear nowadays. There are some parts that don't sit well with me, (I Know You, the pre-chorus to Mind in Motion, etc.) but overall, the singing is a job well done. Not the greatest voice ever, but much better than all of the rap posers today that can't even sing without autotune at their side. The Lyrics themselves are written in a very sci-fi esque sort of way, and Vince shows some very good vocabulary here and there. In the end, the vocals and lyrics are not the main feature of Prototype, but they do their job, and do it well. // 7
Overall Impression: As a debut album, this was a very good way to introduce the band to the open world and the metal underground. If you are at all into Progressive or Thrash metal, I would definately suggest checking this out. Aside from a few questionable vocal passages, this is top notch stuff. The greatest songs on the album would probably be Pure, Trinity, Shine, and Dead of Jericho. That is not to say the rest of the songs are not amazing however! Do yourself a great favor, and support talented musicians! // 8