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Thursday, 8 February 2018

Reviews: Mike LePond's Silent Assassins, Armored Dawn, Corrupt Moral Altar, Ocean Of Grief (Reviews By Rich)

Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins: Pawn And Prophecy (Frontiers Records)

Pawn And Prophecy is the second album by Mike Lepond’s Silent Assassins which is the side project of the Symphony X bassist. He is ably assisted by vocalist Alan Tecchio of Hades and Watchtower with Symphony X bandmate Michael Romeo providing keyboards and drum programming. Guitars are handled by Lance Barnewold and Rod Rivera. Anyone expecting this to be a progressive metalfest in the line of Mike’s primary band Symphony X be prepared to have your head kicked in by a barrage of absolute balls out heavy fucking metal. From the moment you hit play you are hit by a barrage of heavy metal thunder with crunching riffs, flashy basslines and the force of nature that are the vocals of Alan Tecchio. This guy has one hell of a set of pipes on him with a voice that is equally melodic and aggressive.

The majority of the songs on the album are in a traditional heavy metal vein with influences from power metal but everything cranked up to 11. Songs such as Masters Of The Hall, Black Legend and my personal favourite Avengers Of Eden are such a perfect celebration about everything that is fantastic about heavy metal. I listened to the album on the bus home from work and it was very difficult to sit still and resist the urge to headbang wildly. The last couple of songs on the album are the curveballs. 

The Mulberry Tree is a folky acoustic tune whilst the twenty one minute long closing title track is a sheer epic centred around the story of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It features a plethora of guest vocalists and more stylistic changes throughout than you can count from the expected heavy metal and power metal influences to blues, folk, funk and jazz. It’s the only song on the album I felt was a letdown as it was way too self indulgent. Overall this is a fantastic album which 100% appeal to traditional heavy metal and power metal fans. 8/10

Armored Dawn: Barbarians In Black 9AFM Records)

The run of incredible power metal albums released in 2018 continues with the stunning second album by Brazilian power metallers Armored Dawn. The album is titled Barbarians In Black and is due to be released through AFM Records where I’m sure it will be making a huge splash on release. Armored Dawn have already gained a huge following in South America and now is the time for the rest of the world to follow. With Barbarians In Black, Armored Dawn haven’t released just a straight forward power metal album. There are also influences from traditional heavy metal and modern melodic death metal in the music which gives the album a very contemporary yet classic sound. 

Contemporary power metal bands such as Sabaton and Bloodbound definitely have an influence especially with the epic use of keyboards throughout the album and the restrained yet melodic vocals of frontman Eduardo Parras. The performances by the rest of the band also impress with some fantastic riffs, gorgeous guitar solos and a effectively pounding rhythm section. The songs on the album are all earworms with ridiculously catchy choruses with particular stand outs being Chance To Live Again, Men Of Odin and the already released single Sail Away. Only one month in and 2018 is really proving itself to be the year of power metal and with such a brilliant album as Barbarians In Black, Armored Dawn are definitely going to be getting themselves noticed and on stages around the globe later on in the year. An absolutely cracking release. 9/10

Corrupt Moral Altar: Eunoia (Self Released)

Eunoia is the second album by Liverpool grinders Corrupt Moral Altar and is Greek for beautiful thinking. A strange title as this is one album full of ugly music. Eunoia follows on from the sludgy grindcore of debut album Mechanical Tides but takes everything into more extreme territory. This is a sharper, faster and nastier album with more riff changes than can possibly be counted. Unlike a lot of grind albums which are full of blast ridden songs under a minute the songs on Eunoia are given an average duration of 3 minutes which gives the songs more time to breathe and gain their own identity from the punk inspired Burning Bridges And Burning Homes, the death metal influenced Night Chant and the more sludgy tunes such as Rat King and Five Years

As well as the barrage of riffs unleashed upon the listener special mention must go to vocalist Chris Reese whose throat shredding screams sound like a man possessed. This is a very good release mixing grindcore, hardcore punk and sludge metal into one big ball of nastiness which will appeal to those who like their music violent. It’s definitely not recommended for the faint hearted. 7/10

Ocean Of Grief: Nightfall’s Lament ( Sepulchral Silence

On these dark and cold winter evenings I find it’s nice to listen to something bleak and melancholic and Ocean Of Grief are the perfect band for such a night. Nightfall’s Lament is the debut album by the Greek band and it’s an extremely strong debut album for a young band who have only been in existence for four years but with the professional and mature sound on this record sound like they have been playing together for decades. The band musically perform the more melodic end of death doom metal taking cues from influential acts such as Swallow The Sun, Enshine, October Tide and early Katatonia. You have crushing doom-laden riffs and strong forlorn melodies full of melancholy complimented by the tortured guttural vocals of frontman Charalabos Oikonomopoulos. 

None of the songs on the album outstay their welcome with the average duration being between 6-7 minutes and the album’s entire duration sits at a comfortable 46 minutes. Particular song highlights include In Bleakness, Painting My Sorrow and Mourning Over Memories. There are plenty of bands performing this style of metal but Ocean Of Grief have shown astounding maturity and creativity for a debut album. If you enjoy your metal with plenty of misery and melancholy then you can do no wrong with this album. 8/10

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