Prodigy/Oracle were a progressive power metal band from Florida – given a description like that, Crimson Glory and Savatage immediately come to mind and indeed Prodigy fit in nicely with those two. Unfortunately for the band, they were a day late and a dollar short and by the time they released their only offering, As Darkness Reigns, interest in the style had long since waned and they were relegated to relative obscurity. Luckily for die-hard fans, the internet gives us a fantastic avenue to appreciate and share bands that didn’t quite make it in their own time.
By the late 80s, Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin was already a seasoned veteran vocalist with a varied resume. He had already sung on Jag Panzer’s Ample Destruction; a rough around the edges US Power Metal classic that needs no introduction. Shortly afterwards, he ventured into more occult dwellings with Satan Host’s Metal from Hell – an album that was equal parts Jag Panzer and Venom. Not one to be limited by choice, Tyrant joined Titan Force in 1987 in what proved to be a near 180 from his previous musical ventures. Titan Force represented the more melodic and progressive side of the US Power Metal spectrum, one which placed emphasis on non-linear songwriting but more importantly – strong vocal harmonies.
In the ’80s, you could find a heavy metal band in every neighborhood, in every city, all over the United States of America. Many of them might have listened to Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, or just saw Ozzy and Iron Maiden live during their early US tours, or just witnessed a Kiss live show, so that was enough. You can’t imagine the kind of impact those bands had back then on the metal youth of America. The passion was there, creativity too, so you were only missing the skills. The young bands that had the complete package recorded songs that stood the test of time.
In 1986 Fates Warning released Awaken the Guardian. This incredible album set a new foundation as well as a new boundary for the very new, exploding, and exciting progressive approach to metal. It was imaginative and provides to this day a great piece of musical escapism. The next year, near Milan, a few teenage friends would spend their time, as did countless other bands, covering songs by Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and Queensrÿche and generally honing their musical skills. At one point they had enough of covers.
Florida had a small but fairly vital collective of traditional metal bands in the 80’s, despite them being fairly different from each other. You had Nasty Savage, who were on that Slayer gone Mercyful Fate kick; the lean aggressive and bombast of Savatage, etc. There are perhaps others I’m regretfully missing off the top of my head. The point is that Crimson Glory was arguably the best of that small lot – and this album, in particular, deserves to be mentioned alongside the very best of all time.
The Voice of American Power Metal: An Interview and Career Retrospective with Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin
The world has changed a lot in the past 40 years. Empires rose and fell, cultural icons appeared and disappeared, music trends come and gone. The same is true for personal musical tastes. I’ve known people 20 years ago who grew out of metal as they say, or “evolved” musically.
There is a person who evolved as well this last 40 years without succumbing to trends, without looking for the ephemeral and forgettable success. The man who stayed true to the music and the people who are following him. That man is the Tyrant, and this is his story through his music.
The Secret of Steel: A Guide to Epic Heavy Metal Pt. 3 – The Mediterranean (Ft. Interviews with Dark Quarterer and Omen / Marauder)
Part 3 of a 4 piece series on Epic Heavy Metal. This segment examines the Italian and Greek scene. This installment also features an interview with Nikos Migus A. of Omen/Marauder as well as an interview with members of Dark Quarterer.
Not long ago I was having dinner with a very good friend of mine discussing about all those demos that we wished to be reissued but we both knew that was only wishful thinking. And then he mentioned Candle Opera, an extremely obscure heavy/ power band from Canada that somehow he managed to get one track from their long lost 1992 demo to upload in his Youtube Channel. Little we both knew then that at the same time Cult Metal Classics was working on a release of their long lost demo titled Dream Theatre.
The Spectre Within is a peculiar album, both out of context and within the one of Fates Warning’s career to that point. Night on Brocken, their debut, was an album that was frankly, very derivative Iron Maiden worship. It isn’t really a terrible album so much as one that shows a young band very unsure of their direction and what they’d actually want to do (Jim Matheos, the main songwriter of the band, reputedly never liked it very much). I submit that The Spectre Within, its immediate successor, represented one of the biggest leaps of maturity and quality in metal history, at least up to that point. And, for a vanishingly small window, it helped position Fates Warning as one of the unquestioned masters of metal genre, both of their era and of all time.
Reverse engineering is the deconstruction of an object to reveal the components, patterns, or essence of it. It is the process of analyzing an aircraft piece when there is no documentation available to make out the chemical and physical structure of it, or tracing back to the source code of a software when it was lost using the bits of the machine code sent to the processor, or breaking down Hellenic black metal to extract the pure epic heavy metal essence of it.