Review Summary: Prototype's sophomore album deserves a hell of a lot more attention than it gets.
It’s a strange thing, but it seems like the best music never seems to get any attention. Yes, I could go on for hours about how today’s most popular music seems to be written and performed by a bunch of talentless hacks, but it goes further than that. Even within the metal genre – which, despite its metalcore-based revival throughout the past decade or so, doesn’t get a lot of attention from the media – the worst music usually seems to be listened to the most. I mean, we hear all the time about bands like Atreyu, whose last album was basically a rehashing of The Curse
, but with even less creativity. Or Avenged Sevenfold, whose last album wasn’t really an album as much as it was a collection of unoriginal ideas, none of which seemed to have any flair. God only knows why these albums get listened to, but it happens.
And then, on the other end of the spectrum, we have groups like Prototype, who are busy cranking out magnificent albums that seem to get less attention, overall, than M. Shadows’ upcoming appearance on Xbox Live. It’s truly a shame, because the band’s sophomore album, Continuum
, really has a lot to offer. Opener and closer “The Way It Ends” and “Cold Is This God” are two of the most aggressive tracks, along with “Transcendent Velocity.” In contrast, “With Vision,” “Sea of Tranquility,” and “Undying” are laden with calming, almost melancholic acoustic passages. But whether it may be energetic or soothing, each of the album’s eleven tracks is unique in its own way, and each one is filled with inspiration and creativity. That being said, it’s difficult to imagine how any metal fan wouldn’t like at least two or three tracks from Continuum
Throughout the album, all four of Prototype’s members prove that they are exceptionally capable. Showing particular skill is drummer Damion Ramirez, whose technical patterns and fills dominate every song except for three. (One of these is “Heart Machine,” in which the drumming is handled by guest performer Pat Magrath, who demonstrates that he is just as capable as Ramirez. The other two, “Sea of Tranquility” and “Undying,” are the shortest tracks on the album, but also two of the most beautiful.) Another notable quality of the album is the bass work of Kirk Scherer. His instrument is louder in the mix than it is on many other metal albums, which allows him to show what he can really do. For instance, he’s able to pull off a great solo on “Transcendent Velocity,” and his part in “Undying” is particularly strong.
This leaves only Prototype’s two guitarists, Kragen Lum and Vince Levalois, the latter of whom also handles the vocal work. Like Ramirez, they’re able to handle speedy technical passages, but they’re not afraid to venture into beautiful acoustic territory, either. In addition, each guitarist shows off some exceptional solo work, which is just as varied as the songs themselves. This is made even more impressive by the fact that Levalois accomplishes all this while also providing the album’s vocals. While his voice isn’t particularly strong, it fits the album’s sound well. In addition to singing, Levalois also provides a rare scream (“The Way It Ends,” “Transcendent Velocity”).
is one of the very few albums in which every song is not only good, but unique. With four talented musicians performing exceptionally creative songs, this is a must have for any metal fan, and it carries this reviewer’s highest recommendation.
Recommended Tracks: All of them.