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Friday, October 7, 2016

Review: Assassin's Blade - Agents Of Mystification

Assassin’s Blade is a collaboration between Canadian singer Jacques Bélanger and 3 Swedish musicians David Stranderud, Marcus Rosenkvist, Peter Svensson on guitars, drums and bass.

Formed in 2014, they started working on a 3 song demo that was never released. However, the result must have been strong enough and now we’re being offered their first album titled “Agents of Mystification”. After doing a little digging I found out that David & Peter had also recorded (and maybe released) a 2 song demo under the name Trap where they played to a similar style as Assassin’s Blade but the vocals leaned more to King Diamond’s style.

If the singer’s name rings a bell to some older fans that are into some cult bands, it’s simply because Jacques Belanger was the voice of Canadian 80s legends Exciter from 1996 to 2006. With them he has released 3 albums “The Dark Command”, “Blood of Tyrants” and “New Testament”.

When I first heard of Belanger’s vocals in “The Dark Command” I was really impressed since they’re very close to Rob Halford’s (Judas Priest) and I thought “man this is exactly what this band needs” but I was soon disappointed since that was a half decent return.

Belanger’s singing definitely made an impression though. I was always wondering what happened to him after Exciter’s “New Testament” and found it very strange that a voice like his would perish in oblivion.

Thankfully he has made a return with “Agents of Mystification” and what a return this is.

Fans of traditional legends like Exciter, Omen, Judas Priest, Overlorde, and Manowar should definitely check out these guys. Various influences of all these bands exist in Assassin’s Blade’s music along with some Iron Maiden from albums like “Number of the Beast”, and “Piece of Mind”.

But Assassin’s Blade aren’t ripoffs or anything like that. They just were these influences like a sleeve. Ignoring modern trends of super pure/clean productions, programmed/edited drums and tons of solos filled with endless array of arpeggios that tend to sound like a musical exercise instead of a musical piece.

Just listen to songs like Herostratos, Dreadnought or the opening track Agents of Mystification and imagine that if a band like Judas Priest would have these tunes that in their last album “Redeemer of Souls” then we would be talking for a rejuvenated band, bursting with energy.

I really enjoyed the performance of each member since every note seems to have its place in this album. There aren’t any flashy guitar solos or virtuoso moments just pure fucking metal played with passion and fury. It is more than obvious that is the true essence and goal of “Agents of Mystification” is to generate emotions and music from metalheads to metalheads.

Can this piece of music be considered as flawless? Definitely not, there are a few hiccups in vocals for example, but in the end, who gives a shit? Hasn’t a decade of perfect albums (mid 90s to mid 00s) taught us that perfection is the killer of emotion? Mistakes have their own magic and in the bottom line music is a captured performance by human beings and not a quantized stack of midi tracks.

Coming to the end of this review and after spending a lot of time listening to “Agents of Mystification” I feel the need to say this: Fans of pure heavy metal take some time to check out Assassin’s Blade and you won’t be disappointed. You can thank me later.

Written by Manos Xanthakis

Assassin's Blade Official Website
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