Formed in 2014, Assassin's Blade is a new band formed by Canadian vocalist Jacques Belanger, some four years after leaving Canadian speed metal band Exciter. He's enlisted some Swedes to fill out the band with guitarist David Stranderud (ex-Portrait, Instigator, etc), bassist Peter Svensson (Void Moon, Trap) and drummer Marcus Rosenkvist (Void Moon). They deliver their first album, Agents Of Mystification, through Germany's Pure Steel Records.
I'm not going to pull any punches or apologize here, but the best thing about this album is the heavy metal music. Not unlike his previous band, Assassin's Blade plays traditional heavy metal, with a vigorous injection of speed metal. One listen and you'll think you're revisiting 1983. Tempos vary from moderate to break neck, often within the same song. Stranderud's guitar work stands out. He delivers brisk heavy riffs as necessary, yet with a guitar harmony that has your ears thinking there's a second guitarist. His leads rip and roar with skill and near rabid abandon. Svensson and Rosenkvist's rhythm section provide the turbo power that propels the band, each song. If you like any of these characteristics, for a pure "keep it true" metal music experience, Agents Of Mystification delivers
Now if you've been following along, you've noticed I've said nothing of Belanger's vocals. Fundamentally, he's a classic metal singer, with strength and range. However, often that range goes to this ear-piercing, high-pitched, screamo voice. I think he's going after something akin to Halford, but borders more towards the excessiveness of Cage's Sean Peck (and, basically, I can't listen to anything that Peck's involved in any more). Otherwise, when he backs off on the nails-on-blackboard screaming, he adds depth, another layer, to the music within. I made it through the first spin, yet still having to fast forward through his vocal parts. Second spin, I was pretty much done with his vocal style after the third song. Hey. You read my stuff because I'm honest, a straight shooter. Alternatively, if you like that vocal style in your heavy metal then, by all means, indulge yourself forthwith.
A total change of subject, but doesn't Agents Of Mystification sound like the name for a Blue Oyster Cult song?
I'm not going to pull any punches or apologize here, but the best thing about this album is the heavy metal music. Assassin's Blade plays traditional heavy metal, with a vigorous injection of speed metal, with lots of blazing guitar work. It's the vocals I question.
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