For those of you who do not know, Mike LePond is the bassist for Symphony X. This is his second release which follows his self-titled debut from 2014 which is a great album. What makes his albums so unique is they are a perfect blend of European and American style metal. You can hear so many different influences in the music like Dio, Symphony X, Blind Guardian, Manowar and many others. There is a definite feel of old style doom metal with this release.
One thing that also stands out to me is that since this is the band of a bassist you get a lot more bass riffs than a typical metal album. I think this gives the album a very distinct feel and unique sound. All the different bass rifts and sounds are awesome to listen to. Not to be out done though, we have great vocals from Alan Tecchio, as well, that really fit the whole atmosphere of the album.
The album starts with “Masters Of The Hall” which has a great chorus opening. A really cool opening guitar riff and off we go. Alan’s vocals kick in and you get a great pure metal voice with a great scream, which this song has more than one. The song has a stong chorus that is very catchy. It is a perfect choice for the first song on the album. I was completely hooked after listening to it the first time. In the middle of this six-minute opener we have a great guitar solo by Lance Barnewold, surrounded by some great instrumental work. This song is a major highlight of the album.
“Black Legend” and “Antichrist” have a bit more of that doom metal feel to it. Again Alan’s voice is just perfect for these songs. The atmosphere is dark and very well done. Lance Barnewold continues his very strong guitar work with excellent solos. Another thing I love on a lot of these songs is how many of the songs have a decent amount of music with no vocals. This band musically is rock solid, and a pleasure to listen to. Everyone that is part of this album does a good job and is a real pro.
One of my favorite tracks is “Hordes Of Fire“. This song starts with a great rocking beat and some great power chords. Alan’s voice has so much power, but a great higher pitch as well. It is so versatile and we hear that trough this entire song. It also has a great chorus that just draws you in. Another rock solid guitar solo, this time by Rod Rivera, shreds in this song. I just love everything about this song. I feel like I could be listening to it in the 70s, 80s or modern metal times.
As Monty Python says, “And now for something completely different”. “The Mulberry Tree” starts with some great acoustic guitar. A nice little bass riff then the drums kick in. We have a bit of a Celtic feel to this song that sounds like it is right out of the 1970s. The song itself has a great story and is so full of passion and emotion. It is definitely a change of pace from most of the album, but a really enjoyable song to listen to.
I could not finish the review without talking about the 21-minute epic “Pawn and Prophecy“! It starts out with some bass riffs that have a Middle Eastern type sound. Mike’s bass work really shines on this song as it does throughout the whole album. Then the song really kicks in and you feel a bit of that Celtic influence again in parts. This song is basically a rock opera in one song. We have four guest vocalists on this track, Andry Lagiou, Noa Gruman, Veronica Freeman, Phyllis Rutter. At about the three and a half-minute point this song explodes into some serious heavy metal. At the seven minute point of the song we have some great piano work by Michael Pinella. After a softer part of the song we kick the metal back in full force. Michael Romeo also has some great guitar and solo work in this song. Once you are about 12 minutes in we get to a part of the song that Elvis might be singing. At this point you must be thinking what the hell! This song is absolutely crazy and awesome at the same time! I have never heard a song like this on a metal album ever. Now we have an awesome organ solo going on. The song now goes back and forth between ballad and metal as it heads to its final conclusion. No amount of words can describe how epic this song is. You will just have to listen to it for yourself. I have not even described everything that is in this song. This entire review could be this one song.
I will leave the listener to experience the other songs on their own. It has been a long time since I have listened to an album of this style that does it so well. I really love bands like Trouble, Black Sabbath, Dio and Rainbow and it has been a while since I’ve heard a modern band that has that kind of sound and does it so well. This album is really worth getting your hands on. I think from the first listen you will be very happy you did, and will find out that you bought one great album.
Review Score 4.5 / 5.0
Masters Of The Hall
I Am The Bull
Avengers Of Eden
Hordes Of Fire
The Mulberry Tree
Pawn And Prophecy
Mike LePond – Bass, Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Alan Tecchio – Lead Vocals
Michael Romeo – Drum Programming, Keyboards, Lead Guitar on Track 8
Michael Pinella – Backing Vocals, Piano & Organ on Track 8
Lance Barnewold – Lead Guitar on Tracks 1, 2, 3, 5
Rod Rivera – Lead Guitar on Tracks 5, 6, 7
Andry Lagiou – Lead Vocals on Track 8
Noa Gruman – Lead Vocals on Track 8
Veronica Freeman – Lead Vocals on Track 8
Phyllis Rutter – Lead Vocals on Track 8