MIKE LEPOND’S SILENT ASSASINS – Pawn and Prophecy (2018) – English v. review –

As you may already know, Mike LePond is the bassist of the almighty band SYMPHONY X since 1999, releasing his first work with them called V: The New Mythology Suite. His style, always recognized by his multidisciplinary technique, is also remarkable by its purely heavy metal temperament which feeds the monster hidden behind the majesty of his interpretations. That internal beast, was already present in bands where he had already worked with, but it needed to untie itself to be able to approach its own victims and calm its hunger.

From that need and hunger, in 2014 MIKE LEPOND`S SILENT ASSASSINS was born, and man, in what a way… a line-up with members who would have participated in one way or another, with names as big as HALFORD, SEVEN WITCHES, TESTAMENT, WATCHTOWER, SEBASTIAN BACH, HELSTAR, IAN PARRY or PAINMUSEUM, As for 2018, this 4-string lover has decided to come back in action, taking care of rythm guitars and backing vocals. He rescues his most loyal squire from his last slaughter, the vocalist Alan Tecchio (whose vocal record sometimes reminds me of Matt Barlow, ICED EARTH) who excels in his role. Being surrounded by collaborations (usual in these times we live in), he abandons the concept of super group and creates his own Frankenstein. That’s what I’m going to talk you about.

Masters Of The Hall  is the ideal overture for this orgy made of killer riffs, crazy solos, different rythm changes and voices taken to the limit in company of hymnic backing vocals. All this merged certainly poisons this mortal weapon. Even during the different verses, I notice a little bit of flirting with Hardcore. Very powerful and technical, the solo guitars from Lance Barnewold (ROSS THE BOSS, FATE BREAKS DAWN) perform a very worthy job in every song they’re on (1, 2, 3 and 5).

Black Legend the pure flashy type and rocker edge with the eighties aftertaste. Choruses are an all-or-nothing bet its best.

Antichrist, just keeps the level up. Its metal verses with some groove movements surrender without any objection to the most traditional heavy metal style. An unhealthy atmosphere flows through a curtain of low backing vocals, which would bring us to the depths of some pestilent catacombs with those accurate choruses, and so it does the bridge that takes us back to the song after an impeccable contribution from the solo guitarist. The density provoked by the sound of the bass (and its solo) in a more than obvious tribute to Joey DeMaio (recognized influence for LePond), provides a slow and oppressive cadence, reinforced again with gloomy vocals, as if an obscurantist ceremony took place in front of our presence.

I Am The Bull it is named after the rite.

Back to speed with an outstanding Avengers Of Eden  and its supreme chorus, becoming a whirlwind that would destroy any fortress. It is based on a tale from H.P. Lovecraft in matter of lyrics and according to LePond it is also inspired on the riff from the song “House of Pain” by VAN HALEN. It combines the best of EXCITER and MOTORHEAD, and mixing it up with the vocal performance focused on DIO, all I can say is: you’ll need courage for this one!

Hordes Of Fire… ¡I can’t even imagine how this bomb must sound live! Curious conjugation of vocal tones in the most pure 70s glam style during the chorus: refreshing, original and overwhelming.

The Mulberry Tree is pure folk, emotive and melodic, breaking the predominant style of the album but enriching it without any prejudices. Amazing job with the multiple textures extracted from the basic instruments that you’ll need to understand the pagan culture. Those instruments only bring silence when the cold opens for a deep narration that will make us part of the legend. In these 3 last songs the solo guitar is a job for Rod Rivera.

Pawn And Prophecy, song and title of the album and in an epilogue mode, appears and catches our attention in an extense and majestic form. It’s a revelation, in the form of an odyssey and under a timeless thematic such as Shakespeare and his Macbeth. A mix made by the journey of different styles and musical influences, all united by the omnipresence of the bass, again performed under an undeniable DeMaio style.

Mostly metal, groove, funk, folk (bagpipes included), black, blues in company of Doo-Wops (and a genuine dosis of organ), battle marches, epic speeches, lovely pianos, acoustics, deep keyboard games, all this supported by the attacks of the different vocal collaborations: : Andry Lagiou (The Harps, The Voice (Greece)), Noa Gruman (original from Israel, cellist and with her own band SCARDUST), Veronica Freeman (BENEDICTUM) and Phyllis Rutter (EYNOMIA).

Amen to his band mates in SYMPHONY X, Michael Romeo (programmings and solo guitar) and Michael Pinella (piano, keyboards and backing vocals). A masterpiece by itself and its more than 20 minutes, an ingenuity display that doesn’t even look like a 20 minute song, just the opposite, it’s deliriously enjoyable.

Fans of MANOWAR and bands like ACCEPT in its recent reincarnation, CRIMSON GLORY, JUDAS PRIEST, or fans of the american school like ICED EARTH, SEVEN WITCHES, etc… raise your horns up to the sky, Mike LePond has heard your prayers.

Jesús Alijo LUX
Traducción: Yadira Zamora