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It started in 2014 with their blistering self-titled debut album, continued with 2018’s Pawn And Prophecy and achieves its most intense peak yet with the no-holds barred, gauntlet-thrown, real heavy metal mission that is Whore Of Babylon, led by LePond (known worldwide as one of the foremost bass virtuosos in heavy metal music and a member of progressive metal band Symphony X).
“In a lot of newer metal bands, it’s become very cookie cutter, with this stereotypical singalong hook,” explains LePond. “The keyboards are so loud they’re as loud as the guitars, and a lot of it has become very poppy and commercially friendly in the process, losing that mean, nasty, biker kinda sound. I think that maybe a lot of the younger generation has just been not exposed to the true power of the metal riff, and it is my mission to educate them!”
Since childhood, LePond has devoured said-riffs for 3 meals a day, 7 days a week. Growing up in Newark, New Jersey, he became absorbed with the bass guitar after hearing the likes of Judas Priest, Saxon and Manowar before witnessing Kiss live, which motivated LePond to get gear and take music lessons. In 1999, he met Michael Romeo, who invited LePond to become the bassist for the progressive metal act Symphony X. Over time, LePond became known as one of the most skilful, heavy bassists in modern hard rock and heavy metal, yet since his school days, LePond always harboured a deep desire to recreate the impact of hearing blistering heavy metal for the first time.
“I loved all the classic metal bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Manowar and all that stuff,” says LePond. “I’ve always wanted to show where my raw roots come from because I think it’s vitally important that younger fans feel the same things that I felt when I first listened to Black Sabbath, when I first listened to Metallica and Kill ‘Em All, that crazy “wow man” feeling. I wanted to stress that classic heavy metal riff, the riff that comes in and makes you involuntarily bang your head. That riff is the main thing, and I wanted to create the feeling I had when I heard the first Manowar album.”
From the scintillating fury of “Dracul Son” to the baroque mystery of the title track, with Whore Of Babylon LePond has written and produced the sort of album that old school metalheads have been dreaming of. Amidst the furious aural assault, LePond also marches through the tales of some of history’s most fascinating and brutal characters.
“Years ago, I started to watch a lot of the History Channel, and something flipped in my head,” LePond explains. “I never wanted to write about hot chicks and stuff like that, so when I started to learn more about history, I knew that the marriage of history with old school crushing metal riffs would be great, epic and powerful. I wrote the first two solo albums on that premise, and this new album is another step up on that model. Vlad the Impaler and Countess Bathory? Look, these are epic historical tales! Take the story of “The Whore of Babylon”, which in my interpretation was this demonic woman who seduces you, takes you to hell and takes your soul. Come on! That is some story, and it just matches up with this glorious music perfectly. All these stories do, and I hope that people will be stimulated into seeking more information and learning even more about these amazing figures. Epic tales go with epic metal!”
LePond recorded the album in-between various tours with Symphony X, working in Symphony X guitarist Michael Romeo’s home studio, LePond also playing the rhythm guitars, while the core of Silent Assassins remains the same.
“Alan Tecchio (vocals) has been with me from the beginning, and possesses such an incredible amount of range and power that we’re always gonna work together, and just like Lance Barnewold (guitars), he will definitely be in a touring situation,” states LePond. “Jamming with these guys is a no stress situation. There are no egos, there’s no bullshit, it’s just love of this metal music that drives us all, and I think you can clearly hear that on Whore Of Babylon.”
As the world spins on an axis weirder and crazier than any of us could’ve predicted even a month ago, there is more purpose and value in knowing your history than ever before.
“I think history does repeat itself at different times, with one of the main reasons being because people don’t want to learn from their history, so they just keep repeating it,” says LePond. “My advice to anyone is to go back and learn history. Learn what happened before you were here, it can only help you in your life.”
When that learning is wrapped in the sort of molten metal that is Whore Of Babylon, education becomes so much better. Listening to Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins is a gateway to halting the cycle of human ignorance. A sentence you might’ve thought you’d never read, but one which can most certainly bear the finest of fruit…that and it will push your speakers to the brink of metal-motivated madness!Wide ThumbClearartFanartBanner User Comments