Despite struggling to find a permanent drummer during the dozen years of its existence, Los Angeles-based Prototype has managed to survive an endless stream of competition in the aggressive progressive-metal scene. Taking influences from the likes of Metallica and Nevermore, Prototype continues it musical journey on Continuum — the band's fourth CD, following 2004's critically acclaimed Trinity.
When comparing the albums side by side, Continuum emerges as the slightly more melodic but also slightly less effective record. Prototype retains its aggression, but many of Continuum's songs lack hooks that are at least as memorable as the CD's graphic cover. Redundancy sets in at about the midway point, although Prototype uses acoustic guitars more frequently than many other bands of its ilk, with the melancholy-turned-tribal ballad "Devotion," the all-acoustic "Undying" and the peaceful interlude "Sea of Tranquility" (of course) emerging as some of the album's strongest songs, along with the thick and heavy opener "The Way It Ends" and the melodic and relentless "Heart Machine." The musicianship, vocals and technical proficiency rival the best of the genre, and vocalist/guitarist Vince Levalois could even fill in for James Hetfield or Warren Dane if either one of those guys goes down.
The members of Prototype possess the power to move beyond some of metal's traditional boundaries. Unfortunately, Continuum doesn't quite complete that transition.
1) The Way It Ends
4) With Vision
6) Sea of Tranquility
7) Transcendent Velocity
10) Heart Machine
11) Cold Is This God