"Whore of Babylon"

By Dr. Abner Mality

If you seek a bombastic and over the top metal experience, MIKE LEPOND and his not-so-SILENT ASSASSINS are here to jolt your senses with "Whore of Babylon".

Bass wizard Lepond is one of the busiest men in metal, with his nimble fingers stuck in many pies including the ROSS THE BOSS BAND and his "main" outfit SYMPHONY X. It's been forever since we've heard anything from prog metal masters SYMPHONY X so Mike has channeled all his energy and considerable skill into SILENT ASSASSINS. The result is an album that is gloriously bombastic and unrestrained, attacking with a wide variety of metal mixed with symphonic sounds. Lyrical subjects are hackneyed historical concepts that have been done to death, such as Vlad Tepes, Countess Bathory, Vikings and King Arthur. Lepond blasts into these cliches with furious intensity.

As you might guess, this is a VERY bass-oriented album and Lepond's dexterity is obvious in every track. Just listen to the blazing bass runs in "Dracul Son", "Ides of March" and the wildly off the chain "Tell Tale Heart", which features blues and jazz fusion touches along with pounding metal riffs. This track is one of the keystones of the album, as the screaming lead vocals of Alan Tecchio (ex-HADES) match the pomposity of Lepond's bass work. Tecchio is an unsung hero of metal and delivers what may be his lustiest performance on this platter. He leaves absolutely nothing on the table.

There's a lot of territory covered on "Whore of Babylon". "Dracul Son" is blistering thrash with a dusting of cinematic sound, "Ironborn" is a curious mix of OVERKILL anger and HAMMERFALL melody with Mike's bass reminiscent of D.D. Verni's tone, "Power of Steel" is a crunching anthem redolent of MANOWAR and the title track is a very cool Middle Eastern effort that is restrained and tasteful. One hole is the metal ballad "Champion", with female vocalist Sarah Teets making the song sound like something from NIGHTWISH. Most of the tracks here succeed because of sheer pomposity, but this one has too much corn even for me.

The operatic prog metal epic "Avalon" seems the logical conclusion to this metallic feast, letting the orchestrail arrangements flow unimpeded. "Whore of Babylon" is a defiant exhibition of the metal spirit, unashamed of its over the top nature. Just what we need right now. Well done, Mr.. Lepond!