Messiah Prophet

Master of the Metal

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Master of the Metal is an energetically performed dose of pure headbangery that bears an incredibly strong resemblance to Screaming for Vengance-era Judas Priest. Though lead singer Charlie Clark's vocals are a dead ringer for those of Rob Halford, the strength of Pennsylvania-based Messiah Prophet's material occasionally manages to lift the group above tribute-band status. Main writer Andy Strauss has strong pop instincts and his songs often recall the better work of Def Leppard. The production is also Leppard-like, with lots of arena-size reverb, drums that sound like World War II canons, and heavily effects-processed twin guitar leads. There's some good playing here, especially in the guitar department, including a particularly ripping, Iron Maiden-esque breakdown at the end of "Fear No Evil." Unfortunately, though, despite the back cover's somewhat comical band photos (the drummer, David Thunder, looks like a middle-aged accountant let loose on a Frederick's of Hollywood shopping spree), Messiah Prophet is seriously lacking in the sense-of-humor department. For a Christian band, the guys just don't sound too joyful, and the album falls kind of flat as a result. In the end, however, even though Master of the Metal is thoroughly average, it doesn't sound quite as dated as some metal and should appeal to fans of early-'80s British heavy metal, as well as harder-edged Christian rockers.