MIKE LEPOND’S SILENT ASSASSINS – Pawn and Prophecy
This sophomore album by Mike LePond (Symphony X) and his cohorts is a fine slab of epic and progressive heavy metal. There is a lot of talent involved here, which is to say that everything is nicely executed and that the musicianship is excellent, and the cleverly arranged songs all contain some cool surprises and a solid dose of unexpected twists and turns.
Fist-pumping choruses, soaring melodies, gut-piercing vocals, pummeling riffs, and majestic atmospheres are the order of the day here. The lyrics, or lyrical themes, if you will, are steeped in mythology, history, and folklore, which obviously lends itself incredibly well to the band’s meaty and powerful riffs as well as those bombastic sections that Mike LePond and his Silent Assassins are brilliant at conjuring up.
The inspired keyboard-work also adds a nice touch to the tracks and the folk elements that sneak into some of the songs work like a charm. Nothing really sounds superfluous or contrived on the record, which is a great thing. It all seems to be about what works for the song in question. The record peaks around half-way through with "I am the Bull", "Avengers of Eden", "Hordes of Fire", but it goes without saying that the 21-minute long piece that is the title track, which is based on Shakespeare’s classic "Macbeth" tale, is an utterly mindblowing and highly varied affair that is almost hymn-like in places. The folky "The Mulberry Tree" is quite captivating as well.
"Pawn and Prophecy" is a consistent, engaging, and exciting output that ought to appeal to all lovers of Symphony X, DIO (the "Magica" album), Savatage, and King Diamond.