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Steel Prophet
Steel Prophet have returned with their first studio album in about six years! One of the most important band names in the formation and growth of the Progressive Power Metal movement returns to their roots with their new conceptual album Omniscient, and I have no shame in admitting that I didn’t get the lyrics with the digital review copy provided. That didn’t stop me from loving the hell out of one of their most impressive releases in their discography at this point! But even after countless spins before, during and after the writing phase, I still had some questions about it, so I reached out to the men behind the Metal in Clawhammer PR and scored a text interview with founding member Steve Kachinsky Blakmoor to inquire about things I may have missed, possible tour plans, and the return of two key members from their past! Check out what he had to say below, and if you haven’t done so yet, check out the Apochs.net exclusive premiere of their “The Tree of Knowledge” music video:

Not counting the 2008 Shallows Are Forever compilations, it’s been about ten years since the last Steel Prophet full-length. Mind filling in the gap for those who might have missed out on the goings on of the band and its members over that period of time?

Steve:
We didn’t mean for it to be such a long gap, but when we started to work on writing new songs it was a slow process. It took us a lot of time. Then the recording took a long time. I estimated I spent 2800 hours of my time alone, without counting other people’s time like the mix and all the other musicians performances! Like a lot of artists these days we are doing a lot of the recording and editing at home with computers, and I’ve found this really slows the process down. On our older albums we would write for a month, rehearse the songs for a month and record for a month then be done with the whole album in 3 months. With this album we spent almost a year writing it, about a year and a half recording it, and 7-8 months mixing it (R.D. Liapakis from Mystic Prophecy was the mix engineer). Then when it was completely finished it took us a few months to find a label, then the artwork was created, and it is finally ready. It took about three years from the time we stopped writing to finishing.

Over the years, Steel Prophet started to favor more of a traditional Power Metal style. What sparked the drive to revisit the Progressive Power Metal approach and incorporate that element as heavily as you did for Omniscient?

Steve:
Vince drove that a little bit in the writing sessions we did early on. He wanted me to remember the song writing tricks I originally showed him, when we would discuss how to write an interesting song… It seemed like a good idea at the time. A lot of it just came out that way, trying to think of cool song ideas. It’s always a crap shoot. You never know when, how or where inspiration will strike, yet you try and make it happen.

I know that Omniscient is based on a story penned by Steve Kachinsky. Has this composition, or any other for that matter, been published anywhere so fans can check it out and get familiar with it before heading into Omniscient?

Steve:
The complete story is in the deluxe edition booklet. There will also be a link to the story on the Cruz del Sur website, so when you buy the regular CD version or digital download you can get the story. Lyrics and illustrations are in all physical versions.

I probably should preface this next question by saying I don’t have the lyrics to follow along, so correct me if I’m wrong. Omniscient actually seems to start right in the middle of the alien ships descending on Earth. Would you mind giving us a little backstory to what’s happening in this world before “Trickery of the Scourge” kicks in, maybe some details about the main character or characters found in this tale as well?

Steve:
Nah, that’s a cool misinterpretation thought! This journey is actually an unknown quantity to the main character Auriga Alycone. It’s not sure if it astral, inter dimensional, or just subconscious. I’ll send you a copy of the story to read, it will clear up a lot of curiosity!

Much appreciated, Steve! But, I’ve listened to Omniscient a good number of times and am still not entirely sure how “666 is Everywhere (The Heavy Metal Blues)” fits into the story. Would you mind explaining?

Steve:
It’s a journey and Auriga is searching for insights according to the scroll he has discovered in “Trickery of the Scourge”, he finds twelve symbols and needs to learn something at each of the twelve places he visits. The scroll promises him omniscience if he breaks the code so to speak. It’s a lot more complex than that, but in a nutshell…

How about some of the real world elements that are incorporated. I notice “911” talks about Osama Bin Laden and the events on 9/11, but yet “Aliens, Spaceships and Richard M Nixon” where 1974 in I assume Roswell, New Mexico is mentioned. How do these two real live events and persons fit into the world of Omniscient?

Steve:
I don’t really want to give away the story, I prefer your readers read the lyrics and story for themselves and make their own interpretations. Even if they’re incorrect. The lyrics and story are all intertwined. You can’t really understand one completely without the other. The twelve symbols correlate with the twelve songs and the twelve illustrations. “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “1984” are both ‘bonus’ tracks and unrelated to the concept album.

Fair enough. With the song “The Tree of Life,” it’s acknowledged in the chorus that “knowledge is energy.” All I could think of was the similar premise of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, which Steel Prophet based the album Dark Hallucinations around. Does Omniscient perhaps act as a follow-up to that album, or is it some of tale or chapter specifically inspired by that book?

Steve:
Man, the label really screwed you by not providing lyrics and the story.

I’m starting to realize that… *laughs*

Steve:
Actually the line is “disappear, mind is clear when knowledge is unattained, the soul unchained, mind rearranged, when eaten from the tree of life”. It explores the instinctive, animal like man prior to him eating from the ‘tree of knowledge’. Knowledge is a double edged sword, useful for creating good or bad things. Animals don’t have codified language or the ability to record history and disseminate ideas with each other, but their focus is on the immediate; shelter, food and procreation. As man gets away from those basics is that positive or negative? Everyone can decide where they stand on that question.

How did the video shoot for “The Tree of Life” go? Were there any problems, where was it shot, and most importantly is everyone in the video the musicians involved in recording Omniscient, or was it done after the recent line-up changes?

Steve:
The shoot was so much fun! We were clowning around and laughing the whole time. It was shot at the Case Place in North Hollywood with the guys that are in the current line up. Not the guys on the album.

How did it come about that John Tarascio and John Paget rejoined the band after Omniscient was recorded? Also was there any debate anywhere about holding off on releasing the album and having them re-record those instrument tracks?

Steve:
The guys on the album couldn’t make it for the 2013 KIT show. We got in contact with Jon and JT and they were down. It was just fantastic to get back in the rehearsal room with them. We worked so hard together for so many years. They are just incredibly fun guys to be around. After all the time and money spent making the album with Chris Schleyer and Jimmy Schultz there was no way we were going to re record it. Couldn’t afford it.

With those two back in the line-up, how does the future look for Steel Prophet? Will we continue seeing conceptual and/or more Progressive albums from Steel Prophet? Or will the band be picking up where Beware left off, or even exploring other musical directions?

Steve:
The future is bright but unknown. I have some song ideas for the next album, but I’d say the prog elements will be in the instrumentation and harmonies more than the song arrangements. It’s gonna have a lot of the elements of this new one, but only time will tell where the ideas lead to with Jon and JT back in the fold to add their take on things…

How about live shows? Any plans for tours or festivals in or outside North America you can talk about, or is it too early to say?

Steve:
We have our record release party on July 19th in Ventura CA with Night Demon and Venomous Maximus. Other than that nothing is lined up yet, but I hope we will have some news soon for later this year or next year.

Thank you very much for your time, Steve! Take care!

Steve:
All the best.

Steel Prophet: Immortal
Steel Prophet
Interview conducted thanks to Clawhammer PR.