Originally released last year – around this time, actually – Sacramento power metallers Helion Prime’s debut full length caused a bit of a stir in metal circles, and not always in a good way.

The main bone of contention for the bedenimed hordes was the vocal style of singer Heather Michele Smith (known simply as Heather Michele on the record); She’s got a great voice, a unique voice even, but when you consider the high levels of heavy metal mayhem going on around her it’s also a surprising voice to find here. She doesn’t have a lot of what we in the reviewing business term ‘ooomphh’ in her voice, rendering some of the material a bit lacking to some ears. Not mine though.

On tracks like Life Will Find a Way and the slightly more progressive Into the Black Hole she sounds fantastic; True, when she stops singing the band seem to find another gear – a very Maidenesque gear, usually – but that doesn’t take away from her style, which might lack grit but comes with personality in buckets. It’s an acquired taste, sure – but most of the best things are. And give it a bit of time and I think you’ll get it.

Still, it’s all academic now since Smith has left the band since the album originally came out, to be replaced by Kayla Dixon, recently of Portland doomsters Witch Mountain; Dixon does however possess a voice that’s remarkably similar to Smith’s so all is not lost if the band were looking to forge ahead focussing on the uniqueness of their sound. It’ll be great to see what she makes of rip-snorting metal tracks like You Keep What You Kill, and indeed where the band take their style from here.

Still that’s for the future; For now if you’re new to Helion Prime this reissue is still a great place to make your acquaintance. And if you like technically adept, science fiction-themed power metal that’s big on hooky progressiveness yet retains an eye for a gut-wrenching riff then they might just become your new favourite band. Have a listen – I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Helion Prime is out today on AFM Records