MIKE LEPOND’S SILENT ASSASSINS – Pawn And Prophecy (2018)
From the Frontiers Music January 2018 release batch, the label is presenting the new album from MIKE LEPOND’S SILENT ASSASSINS, “Pawn And Prophecy“.
In 2014, Symphony X bassist Mike LePond brought his four strings of righteous fury to a new ‘solo’ all-star project by the name of Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins, featuring Symphony X bandmate Michael Romeo, prominent session guitarist “Metal Mike” Chlasciak, and Alan Tecchio, reknowned vocalist of Hades, Watchtower, and Seven Witches (formerly).
The foursome self-titled debut that was refreshingly powerful, while balancing potent original compositions with ultra-hooky selections from LePond and Tecchio’s erstwhile involvement in Seven Witches.
Now, LePond, Romeo, and Tecchio are back as a trio with multiple guests to dole out a second helping of hard-hitting melodic metal inspired by whatever historical and mythological subjects happen to be kicking around in Mike’s head.
I’m amazed at how many folks I’ve observed who see “Mike LePond” and seem to think “aw, it’s just going to be more proggy junk” (this assuming indifference /dislike of Symphony X), given the guys’ prolific involvement across the metal scene.
However, while Silent Assassins is not a progressive project, it is by no means stylistically stagnant. Nothing emphasizes that statement like the twenty one and a half minute title cut “Pawn and Prophecy,” which purports to be a metal soundtrack to the story of Macbeth. I’m not sure if this band is the best place for taking a swing at this somewhat lofty concept, nor for a track this long-winded, but the song definitely doesn’t lack for musical ambition.
“Pawn and Prophecy” manages to roll the group’s blasting modern take on ’80s melodious metal around with blazing power chords, acoustic passages, a classical piano solo, ample guest vocal spots, and even a freaking big band swing section.
The compositions are all original this time around, but I’d venture to say that they’re as strong or stronger than the songwriting features on the self-titled debut.
Opener “Masters of the Hall” is exactly what it sounds like: a thunderous anthem with a chorus that’ll cling fast to your ears. “Avengers of Eden” is my pick for best track on the album, with its driving riffing, huge chorus, and an energy level evocative of the best of Riot’s catalog.
“The Mulberry Tree” is a very pleasant surprise as well. Though it’s the album’s down-tempo acoustic number, its got a medieval quaintness to its vocal melody that, when combined with Tecchio’s timbre, makes for a fine, idyllic escape from the rest of the record’s brash energy.
One last major comment on the music is necessary, and that’s the presence of Mike himself. His four string is used across the album to devastating effect.
Indeed, I can’t remember the last time I ever listened to a traditionally-styled metal album that featured such prominently mixed and zealously performed bass guitar. Occasionally showy but never purposelessly self-indulgent, LePond’s playing is one more distinctive feature on a strong and well-written offering.
“Pawn And Prophecy” is a powerful CD, metallic and melodious at the same time, and really enjoyable from star to finish.
01. Masters Of The Hall
02. Black Legend
04. I Am The Bull
05. Avengers Of Eden
06. Hordes Of Fire
07. The Mulberry Tree
08. Pawn And Prophecy
Mike LePond (Symphony X) – Bass, Guitar, Backing Vocals
Alan Tecchio (Watchtower / Seven Witches) – Lead Vocals
Michael Romeo – Drum Programming, Keyboards, Lead Guitar
Michael Pinella – Backing Vocals, Piano & Organ on Track 8
Lance Barnewold – Lead Guitar on Tracks 1, 2, 3, 5
Rod Rivera – Lead Guitar on Tracks 5, 6, 7
Andry Lagiou – Lead Vocals on Track 8
Noa Gruman – Lead Vocals on Track 8
Veronica Freeman – Lead Vocals on Track 8
Phyllis Rutter – Lead Vocals on Track 8
BUY IT !