Published on March 2nd, 2018 | by Justin G.
Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins: Pawn and Prophecy (Frontiers)
Symphony X bassist Mike LePond is back with a new solo album under the Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins banner. LePond, who also handles rhythm guitar and backing vocals, is once again joined by vocalist Alan Tecchio (of Hades and Watchtower fame). The new album, titled Pawn and Prophecy, also features a guest list that includes Symphony X bandmates Michael Romeo and Michael Pinella as well as Benedictum frontwoman Veronica Freeman.
This isn’t Symphony X. It’s probably best to make that clear right up front. LePond and company are going old school here with a straight-up classic heavy metal approach. It’s more Painkiller than Divine Wings of Tragedy. The first six songs on this album are full-on scorching heavy metal anthems, with the kind of driving riffs and piercing vocals that bring to mind Helstar, Seven Witches and of course Judas Priest. Tecchio and LePond make a hell of a team, and these songs are just good headbanging fun. Then there’s “The Mulberry Tree,” which seems out of place with it’s more folk-rock Blackmore’s Night vibe. It’s oddly compelling though, and serves as a nice interlude between the first part of the album and the title track.
Speaking of which, “Pawn and Prophecy” is nearly 22 minutes long, features 3/5 of Symphony X and a host of guest vocalists, and is based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It’s a big, sprawling song that veers into progressive metal territory but also has a rock opera feel (think Iced Earth meets Meat Loaf), and as ambitious as it is, it kind of throws off the album’s momentum. It feels like one or two really great songs are buried in there, but as a whole it just never seems to click.
Issues with the title track aside, Pawn and Prophecy is a really solid heavy metal album. The obvious chemistry between LePond and Tecchio and the overall high quality of the songwriting make this an album that fans of traditional heavy metal can’t ignore. Fans of Judas Priest, Accept, Helstar and Armored Saint ought to really dig what Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins is all about.
Summary: This is a really solid traditional heavy metal album