So somehow Mike LePond, bassist of legendary band SYMPHONY X decided to put out a solo record and I was THE last to know! Thanks a lot for keeping me informed, dear readers. Here’s what he had to say about it: “This CD is all me. I wrote all the music, and all the lyrics. It’s one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done and I can’t wait to share it with my fans.” And I have to agree with his sentiments. I got MIKE LEPOND’S SILENT ASSASSINS a week and change ago, so now after grooving to it a lot it’s time to write about it. With a star-studded roster of players LePond knew what he was doing, and what he was doing was putting out a record that will put a goddamn foot in yer ass, that’s what! With Metal Mike Chlasciak (HALFORD/PAIN MUSEUM) and Mike Romeo (SYMPHONY X) handling lead guitars (LePond does rhythm) and the piercing vocals of Alan Tecchio (HADES/WATCHTOWER) ripping shit up, this is one of those records where you’re like, “Damn, I didn’t know he had it in him.”
As soon as you hear opener “Apocalypse Rider” you will know EXACTLY what I mean. This song, just like this whole record, is Old School Heavy Metal, there’s no two ways about it. Tecchio is singing like it’s 1987 and the band behind him is ripping shit up like we’re recording Headbangers Ball. The songs are tightly executed, and sound like they could be from then or now, which only adds to the appeal of the album. After a Middle Eastern intro “Red Death” turns into a mid-tempo tune with an infectious hook that you’ll want to rewind over and over. A gorgeous Celtic-infused feel for the first 1:20 of “The Quest” gives way to one of the album’s most crushing compositions, Tecchio sounding a lot like Bruce Dickinson, and the band sounding a lot like IRON MAIDEN so it’s a win-win!
Listen, the chops are there, that’s undeniable. What really struck me is just how great these songs LePond wrote are. And you can really hear him go off on “The Outsiders”, another riff-heavy rocker that will knock socks off. My favorite though, as a history buff, has to be “Masada.” For those of you who don’t know, The Siege of Masada was among the final accords of the Great Jewish Revolt, occurring from 73 to 74 CE on a large hilltop in current-day Israel. Masada has become a controversial event in Jewish history, with some regarding it as a place of reverence, commemorating fallen ancestors and their heroic struggle against oppression, and others regarding it as a warning against extremism and the refusal to compromise. As someone who studied it as a child, I just think it’s a beautifully written song with a great message.
And from the ashes of that number we come to the title track “Silent Assassins” a four-on-the-floor, let’s-fuck-shit-up anthem!! Tecchio is wailing out of his gourd and the guitars are razor-sharp. “Ragnarok” is another anthemic chorused tune that keeps you comin’ back to rage, and then “The Progeny” delivers a simmering potboiler for seven minutes that will have you riveted. For the finale, Mr. LePond has chosen to give us “Oath and Honor”; 11:11 that once again swims in IRON MAIDEN waters, but really how is that a bad thing? Quite frankly, for those eleven minutes if you’re not on the edge of your seat and emotionally invested then I don’t know what the hell is wrong with you! All I know is this: MIKE LEPOND’S SILENT ASSASSINS is an album that all of you should be purchasing if you haven’t already, and that’s that.
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM