Mike Lepond’s Silent Assassins - Pawn and Prophecy

Mike Lepond’s Silent Assassins Pawn and Prophecy cover
Mike Lepond’s Silent Assassins
Pawn and Prophecy
Frontiers Music Srl
“Pawn and Prophecy” is the second album by Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins, featuring his Symphony X bandmates Michael Romeo on guitar and Michael Pinnella on Keyboards on the 20 plus minute “title track”, as well as a number of other guests. Alan Tecchio, who’s been the vocalist for Hades, Watchtower, and Seven Witches, remains on the vocals.
More of the “traditional” flavored power metal of their debut is here, maybe a tiny bit harder and darker, but still maintaining all trademarks of both its creators but also featuring passing glances on everything from Metallica, Manowar, Iced Earth, you sort of name it and if it was out there in the 80s and 90s and true to the original “metal” sound, some traces may have filtered down into this thing. The one thing that makes this sound extra retro, but also pretty bad, is the drum machine (programmed by Romeo) that makes one scratch their head on why they couldn’t be bothered to get someone to do the drums live – at least on the album, as it would have greatly enhanced the finished product.
At any rate “Masters of the Hall” has some hymnal choirs that are not bad and feel pretty Europower, but soon and through a persistent lawnmawing riff and a barrage of drums, it sails to America for a pretty Iced Earth meets Hades verse, before it returns to Europower shores with its “chorus”. It keeps the palindrome between the two shores in its telling of Nordic tales of bravery and the like… not a bad opener at all, I suppose.
“Black Legend” is also riff driven, but even less intricate than the opener, a rather plain number with a pretty OK chorus, that is above mediocre for sure, but won’t make you lose your head either at the same time.
“Antichrist” had me thinking that Iced Earth were never this prog oriented, but intense yeah… so yeah, you get the vibe. I suppose less prog than say Darkology or Symphony X and probably in some alignment with the latter’s post “V” output.
“I Am the Bull” totally goes for that “epic” evil, vintage Iced Earth vibe that they have been largely unable to recreate these days, sounding like cheap replicas of their past. The Manowar loud bass that takes lead for some soloing, extends the songs by a bit and could have possibly been reduced to something more succinct, but it doesn’t manage to totally mar this pretty OK tune (about idolatry?)…
“Avengers of Eden” drops the gauntlet, one part Judas Priest the other part non-descript American 80s power metal in an amalgam that’s not hard to swallow, but doesn’t seem to have staying power, despite the ephemeral euphoria that a nice chorus over double bass drums can create. It doesn’t seem to stick around.
“Hordes of Fire” is Manowar gone Jag Panzer or something, but is let down somewhat by its squally chorus that doesn’t seem to work all that well.
“The Mulberry Tree” sounds a lot like some traditional re-arranged, although a quick search didn’t draw up any particular song, but it sounds a little far-fetched to be a construct with all the thee’s and the thy’s…
Last but not least, the 20 minute title piece “Pawn & Prophecy” is a heavy, celtic inspired number, about “Macbeth” in some eleven parts.
After the witches prophecy, it goes semi-thrash and maintains a nice impetus for a while until it returns to them, whereupon an almost “cabaret” musical part ensues (I kid you not a doo-wop) that had me scratching my head… as it feels completely out of climate (of medieval Scottish throne shenanigans) but whatever… following that four minute failed experimentation that feels as if someone took a huge dump in the middle of the song for reasons unknown, Tecchio returns with a lamenting monologue, only to be followed by an ever increasing crescendo of parts. I could not help but to subconsciously compare this to Jag Panzer’s “Thane to the Throne” that it seems to be able to even momentarily match (in those “On Wings of Fire” chorus of one of the latter parts, I would believe it to be “The Battle of Dunsinane” actually). If it had omitted that over the top swinging Christina Aguilera sort of part in the middle, instead opting for something more appropriate, this would have been hands down the album’s best song and quite a feat in modern produced metal albums, but… I guess it wasn’t meant to be.
Interesting, but not cloudburstingly original, it does well most of what it sets out to do. Hiring a drummer would be an improvement and further refining a few bits and pieces here or there could really make this take a life of its own in the future or during the downtime of Symphony X, for the ever-busy bass torturing Mike Lepond.