Mystic Prophecy – Hellriot Review

I love Mystic Prophecy. What do I love about them? Everything. I love the excessive machismo of their aesthetic, the over-the-top badassery of their album artwork, their delightful ESL lyrics, and the way the band shoehorns the words “hell,” “devil,” “demons,”  “Lucifer,” and any number of similarly sinister subjects (not to mention album titles from their own past and classic album titles from other greats) into said lyrics. But most of all, I love that Mystic Prophecy is hell-bent on keeping heavy metal fucking heavy. Who needs progression, innovation, or the avant-garde when you can have a riff-monster like “Metal Division,” the title track from the band’s 2020 release (and certain entry on a 2020 Heavy Moves Heavy list, if such a list had been created). As with most recent Mystic Prophecy albums, Metal Division had its share of filler, but on a recent revisit, I was excited to see that it held up really well overall. While trying to keep my expectations at a manageable level, I approached follow-up Hellriot with hopes that the band might be ready to enter a late-stage golden age.

Those familiar with the band won’t be a bit surprised to hear that Mystic Prophecy still sounds exactly like Mystic Prophecy. For those not familiar, picture heavy metal distilled down into its purest form (think Manowar) and then fed a steady diet of protein, carbs, and illicit anabolic substances. Everything about the band’s sound is huge, from the impossible beef of the guitars and rhythm section, to the gravelly machismo of frontman R.D. Liapakis. It was tough to choose a song to embed here, but I decided to go with “Unholy Hell” thanks in part to its hilarious music video. Liapakis’ devotion to the king (queen?) of Hell seems to be paying off, because his voice shows little-to-no sign of aging while the rest of the band throws down a simple but effective groove to give us one of the album’s heaviest numbers.

Many Mystic Prophecy albums struggle with consistency, but Hellriot is almost universally solid. This is the second full-length album the band has put out with relatively new guitarist Evan K, and it feels like he’s really making an impact here. His shredding solos work really well on the thrashier songs (“Hellriot,” “Revenge and Fire,” “World on Fire”), the slower chuggers (“Unholy Hell,” “Paranoia,” “The Road to Babylon”), and the arena rockers (“Demons of the Night,” “Rising with the Storm,” “Azrael”). Overall, the band just sounds revitalized, and that makes Hellriot a helluva lot of fun.

Over the years, Mystic Prophecy has learned that less is more, with their three latest albums all clocking in at under 45 minutes. This focused attack really works in Hellriot’s favor, as its 41 minutes fly by in a flash and beg to be replayed. My only real gripe is that penultimate track “Cross the Line” falls a little too far into arena/radio rock territory and feels a bit awkward when compared to its heavier neighbors. While I think the album would be even stronger without the track, it’s a just a minor speed bump on an otherwise fantastic heavy metal record.

For my money, Hellriot is the best Mystic Prophecy album since 2007’s Satanic Curses. Intellectuals, elitists, and socialites will probably detest this record, but it wasn’t made for them. It was made for true, poser-crushing metal warriors.1 Hellriot has just about everything I love about heavy metal, and I anticipate it being one of my most-listened-to albums of 2023 come year’s end.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: ROAR! Rock of Angels Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: May 19th, 2023

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  1. Read As: Steel DruhmSteel
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