REVIEW: MIKE LEPOND’s Silent Assassins
By now almost everyone in the metal community heard about Symphony X and its member’s proficiency with their instruments. Mike Lepond, bassist for the act and for many others, such as Distant Thunder, Affector and Heathen’s Rage, created his supergroup in 2014 hoping to gather some more followers for his already accomplished career. Every time I hear about a side-project from a member of a famous band, though, I can’t help but to think one of two things: either the guy in charge of the project wants to gain a few more bucks for himself and just copies the content of his main band, or he really wants to be known as a guy who can make all kinds of different music and just needs to externalize his creativity. Headed by Lepond, the band features well-known characters in the metal community like legendary axeman Metal Mike Chlasciak, Watchtower’s Alan Tecchio and Lepond’s long time buddy and multi-instrumentalist Michael Romeo, who plays guitar and does the drum programming for the album. So, with two Symphony X members in the lineup, it’s safe to say that ‘Mike Lepond’s Silent Assassins’ take the first path, following a more progressive route, right?
I’m glad to say that this couldn’t be more far from the truth. What we have here is a straight to the face heavy/power metal album, with minimal progressive elements and filled with heavy riffs and punchy songs. Clearly Lepond’s bass takes over a main role in many of the songs, but not to a point that annoys the listener. In fact, it does exactly the opposite: the bass merges itself with the melodies, giving a smooth and groovy result to the tunes. The songwriting is above average, with a good mix of stories like Edgar Allan Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death poem in “Red Death”, a cool take on the Masada Desert Fortress in Israel on “Masada” and other well-written tunes like “The Quest” and “Oath of Honor”. Music-wise, although mainly bass-driven, it’s hard to miss a duo like Metal Mike and Romeo, but Tecchio’s vocals often steal the show, with surly lines and surgical-putted screams like on “Apocalypse Rider” and “Silent Assassins”. Really, there is everything a metal fan could as for in an album: there are heavy songs, fast songs, melodic passages, high-quality musicianship, great atmosphere and, above all else, passion (a rarity).
Lepond’s debut album makes a compelling case that he’s not messing around or just trying to copycat his main band. Instead, it really is a great album and will please those who love the old days of straightforward heavy metal without broken tempos and excessive keyboards, and I even make a case that this is better than Symphony X on occasion. With a new album on the works, it becomes clear that Lepond will not see this output as a mere side-project, but as serious as his agenda lets it be. A lost gem from 2014, as this flew under the radar for a lot of people, the album deserves high praise, and this is why it gets the highest rating I gave so far on Metal Wani. I have this album in my collection since it came out in late 2014 and every time I hear it the experience gets more enjoyable. Highly Recommended.