I've come to find many bands labeled as "super groups" that aren't near super. It is hard to imagine a squad of talented musicians from different projects screwing up a massive disc that should be excellent, but it happens. Only a few of these "all-star" bands have gathered a decent set of releases, but the acts that prove their worth truly define the hype; one of those groups is Mystic Prophecy.
Mystic Prophecy was formed when Roberto Dimitri Liapakis and Martin Albrecht of Valley's Eye teamed up with Firewind mastermind Gus G. and drummer Dennis Ekdahl in 2000. The chemistry among the four ignited a series of successful writing sessions that eventually turned into Vengeance in 2001, but it went beyond of what was expected. Instead of a bland product of ordinary junk, Mystic Prophecy used their genetic foundations and original structure while following the boundaries of power metal on the band's grand virgin release. Not only is Mystic Prophecy's debut golden, but it is a cosmic trip of what metal is meant to be.
Gus G. was one of Mystic Prophecy's founding members before his departure in 2005. The popular axeman constructed a series of phenomenal riffs during his sequence as Mystic Prophecy's guitarist, but his best work lies within Vengeance. Everything Gus G. wrote for this record is a premium fusion of speed, heaviness, emotion, and stylized talent compounded into a beam of superiority. The shredding genius knows how to work his magic whether it's a scorching thrash splinter, a godly solo, or a beautiful clean bridge used during slower parts; Gus. G can do it all. A tour de force of guitar mastery!
Even at their debut, Mystic Prophecy was able to write and perform fantastic songs without losing any fresh attributes along the way. Ekdahl does a great job adding fills and playing dangerously tight during the faster parts of this record, but he's able to slow his pace during slower zones in the most fitting ways. Keyboards are used here, but only to add atmospheric effects during introductions or bridges; there's a keyboard solo during the opening seconds of "Damnation and Darkness," but it's just used for haunting surroundings the rest of the time.
The musical excellence evolves into perfection when R.D. Liapakis makes his voice a crucial part of Mystic Prophecy's sound. Known to be a brilliant vocalist, Liapakis emerges from the deep atmosphere and reacts with a wonderful show; soaring notes and emotional choruses are all brought upon by the radiating aura glimmering from his voice. Narration is used during "1545 - The Beginning" and somewhat implied at the ending moments of "Welcome to the Damned Circle," but the rest is Liapakis singing his guts out. Definitely one of the most outstanding vocal performances I've heard.
What makes Mystic Prophecy so different and special in comparison to other power metal bands? Well, the faction adds a small ingredient that ultimately controls the direction of their sound: darkness. The term "dark power metal" was created by Helloween's infamous The Dark Ride when the happy-go-lucky band experimented with thrash and semi-evil lyrical themes; in case you didn't catch on: this is what Mystic Prophecy and Vengeance is all about. The thrash influence on Vengeance couldn't be stronger and the atmosphere is incredibly darker than most other power metal bands of this criteria. Instead of poetic subjects such as fantasy and history, Mystic Prophecy touches on darker issues like death, Hell, damnation, and revenge. Imagine a swarm of demons possessing The Dark Ride while burning churches; you now can picture what Vengeance sounds like.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is perfection in its purest and most complete form. I honestly haven't been blown away like this in a very long time; Vengeance truly is one of the best things I've ever experienced. Mystic Prophecy has been on a golden streak of consistency ever since Vengeance, but their debut remains the band's best album and I highly doubt they'll ever make anything at this level of excellence ever again.