The eponymous 2014 debut of Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins had been a pleasant surprise – it was musically so different from the bassist’s work with Symphony X, his main band. And yet it had felt genuine. Now he has regaled us with an album that has equalled, if not surpassed, its predecessor.
Musically “Pawn And Prophecy” might be slotted into a ‘Classic U.S. Power Metal’ pigeon-hole – and here I’m thinking of bands such as Jag Panzer, Virgin Steele and Manowar – but the compositions are enriched with ideas of their own (even some Doo Wop/Boogie finds its way into the album). Not even a Prog-sounding ‘The Mulberry Tree’ – which reminds me a lot of classic Uriah Heep – sounds out of place amongst lots of jagged Metal sonorities. So yes, there are a lot of facets to this album but it never ceases to feel like a direct in-your-face Metal release.
The album’s level of musicianship is quite high and the first thing to strike me is the amazing performance of vocalist Alan Tecchio (Watchtower, Hades, Synaptik). His screams and vocal range in songs such as ‘Avengers Of Eden’ and ‘Masters Of The Hall’ are impressive.
As with his previous album, LePond here freely indulges in his bass-playing skills – ‘I Am The Bull’ is a good example. But it’s not just the bass guitar….and the lead vocals….that shine. The riffs of songs such as ‘Masters Of The Hall’ and ‘Black Legend’ are headbanging delights and the guitar solos in the same ‘Black Legend’ are full of contagious energy. Helping to bring LePond’s compositions to life are his Symphony X band mates Michael Romeo (guitar) and Michael Pinnella (keyboards) as well as other guests (scroll down for the full list of musicians). All of them are at the top of their game.
I cannot fail to mention the album’s title-track. Surpassing the 22-minute mark in duration, it’s basically Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ re-imagined for the Metal fan. With moods ranging from tranquillity to utter fury the song ‘Pawn and Prophecy’ is as epic as it gets.
Tired of the same old Power Metal? Then put on this “Pawn And Prophecy” and, as Tecchio screams in ‘Avengers Of Eden’, “Riiiiise!”
1. Masters Of The Hall
2. Black Legend
4. I Am The Bull
5. Avengers Of Eden
6. Hordes Of Fire
7. The Mulberry Tree
8. Pawn And Prophecy
Playing Time: 59:55
* Mike LePond - bass, rhythm guitar, backing vocals
* Alan Tecchio - lead vocals
* Michael Romeo (Symphony X) - drum programming, keyboards, lead guitar on 8.
* Michael Pinella (Symphony X) – piano, organ & backing vocals on 8.
* Lance Barnewold (Fate Breaks Dawn) - lead guitar on 1., 2., 3., 5.
* Rod Rivera (Rivera/Bomma) - lead guitar on 5., 6., 7.
* Andry Lagiou - lead vocals on 8 .
* Noa Gruman (Scardust) - lead locals on 8.
* Veronica Freeman (Benedictum) - lead locals on 8.
* Phyllis Rutter (Eynomia) - lead vocals on 8.