While you're waiting for the next Symphony X album, which is in the works as I write, check out their bass player Mike LePond's first solo album, Mike Lepond's Silent Assassins. I think you're going to like this fine mix of traditional melodic heavy and power metal. It's a solo album, but LePond is not alone. While we wrote all the music and lyrics, over the last two years, he has some top notch help: Metal Mike (Halford, Testament) and Michael Romeo (Symphony X) on lead guitars, and Alan Tecchio (Hades, Seven Witches, Watchtower) on vocals. Of course, LePond played bass, but also rhythm guitar.
Now your first suspicion is that this might be bass heavy or simply the bass line defining every song. But your suspicion would be unwarranted. Everything about the songs is quite well-rounded, with all instruments and their parts falling in proper place. Of course, you'll find LePond's influence notable as with the brisk introduction to Ragnarok, the flurry at the end of The Progeny, and with the beginning of Silent Assassins. Then later about two-thirds in that same song his bass presence is quite fat in the strong instrumental segue. That sketch sounds like an uncanny blend of western (as in American western music), something Celtic, and something jazz fusion. It's really quite cool. The entire title piece could easily fall into the progressive power metal genre. The song is probably my favorite here.
After these observations, the common theme is simply melodic heavy and power metal. Sometimes it comes off more grizzly and coarse as with the aforementioned Ragnarok. Some of this comes from sharp riffs, but also Tecchio's gruff vocal presentation, something persistent across the album (and likely my least favorite element). But not so much on The Quest, a somewhat lighter metal number with a hymn-like anthem character. Tecchio backs off, as he can, sounding more melodic. For something more abrupt and intense, Oath of Honor puts the power into the power metal with a rather brisk pace. Again the riffs are razor sharp, and the solos flare like bottle rockets.
Rather than spoil your curiosity by speaking about every track, a final mention should be made of the final track. Masada is probably the single piece here that picks up all the many characteristics of the foregoing songs. It's a deliberate mix of melodic, heavy, and power metal common to the album, yet still offering LePond's bass intrigue and some of that epic feeling from The Quest in the latter half; it's both opus and anthem, and definitive for LePond and the album.
In the press material accompanying the digital promo, LePond's offers a short paragraph of personal thoughts at the start. He concludes this statement about the journey and the album with, "It is one of the most satisfying things I have ever done ..." He should be absolutely pleased, and humbled, by this accomplishment. Well done, and easily recommended.
Writing all the music and lyrics, Symphony X bass player Mike LePond offers his two year labor of love, a terrific album of traditional melodic heavy and power metal. Put it on your short list of albums to buy this month.
Mat Sinner is both an icon and legend in the German, and the larger European, hard rock and heavy metal scene. Cranking out music since 1982, Sinner is an industrious and prolific musician and producer whether through his namesake band, the heavy metal heroes Primal ... [ Read More ]