With the fast riffs which open ‘Dissident Priests’, combined with a time signature which can be found gracing many a Dream Theater cut, it’s quickly obvious from where this Oxford quartet pull their greatest influences. However, Prospekt aren’t a band short on talent. In Blake Richardson they have a power-house drummer; in Phil Wicker a rock-solid bassist; in Matt Winchester, a decent vocalist who, at times, could rival a few of the prog-metal greats. Top these factors with a superb guitarist, whose style fuses an uncompromising heaviness with occasional notes-per-second style flashiness, and that presents a band with a promising array of characteristics. Granted, you won’t always hear great hooks or sing-along material, but like many progressive metal outfits, Prospekt’s musical prowess does the talking for them. ‘Dissident Priests’ may have many of Dream Theater’s key aspects firmly on show, but it’s a number which is perfect for introducing the band. Behind the monster riffs, guitarist Lee Luland throws in the odd horse noise (technical term) and some occasional drifiting into Eastern sounding riffs (coupled with a more Edge Of Sanity inspired growling vocal creeping in) stops things from becoming too predictable. While a strong opening track, there are a couple of better numbers to come.
‘Eternal Memories’ is a short piece, constructed from atmospheric keyboard drones and radio news samples featuring George W Bush and a report concerning the Kennedy assassination. This leads quickly into ‘Shroud’, a heavy riff-based number capturing Prospect on top form. The main guitar riff adopts a heavy chug, again in the spirit of Dream Theater, but also leaning toward the more basic elements of Symphony X. While vocalist Matt Winchester is no Russell Allen (and let’s face it, few people are), his presence and range could be a match for James LaBrie and Shadow Gallery’s Mike Baker. While Winchester puts in his best work, it’s still Prospekt’s instrumental dexterity which steals the show. While still very much prog-metal by numbers, the pneumatic drum work and choppy riffs at the four minute mark provide a particular highlight. While it mostly has the air of a number driven by attitude and riffing as opposed to flash soloing, there is more than enough space for Luland to deliver a couple of top-notch solos toward the end of the seven minute duration.
The closing number ‘Shutter Asylum’ opens with some rather smart neo-classical thrashing where Luland gets to show off a little, but behind his best work, Blake Richardson’s drum style is absolutely relentless. While Prospekt aren’t too shy in showing their influences, the sheer force and speed propelling this number could be best compared to Symphony X at their most aggressive. Once again, the guitar work throughout is fabulous, with a few downtuned riffs giving a sinister edge. While the track already showed Prospekt at their absolute heaviest, the general tone here really hammers their point home.
It’s great to hear an English band taking on a very American style and sub-genre of metal – and potentially delivering the goods as well as the best bands out there. Generally, Prospekt’s debut EP is unlikely to give the prog-metal die-hards any new thrills, but it doesn’t matter. If you’re a fan of any of the bands mentioned here, it’s probable you’ll also enjoy what Prospect have to offer.
You can stream the EP from the widget below, or alternatively, it’s available as a FREE download here!