Friday, September 9, 2016

Assignment-Closing the Circle

Sometimes, it is better late than never when it comes to bands getting their act together. Such is the case with Germany's Assignment, who began in 1994 as a thrash/death metal outfit, but later changed their sound to progressive power metal. Their debut album Progressive Changes wasn't released until 2003, nine years and two demos after they formed. Seemingly on an album every five years deal, their latest album Closing the Circle, their first on Massacre Records, breaks that spell in a major way.

The opening track "Evolution" begins with about a minute of sound samples before the actual music hits, and while it doesn't blow the listener away, Diego Valdez's vocals adds something to it, as one gets the feeling that he took cues from Ronnie James Dio. The title track and "Presence of Death" show more of what Assignment is capable of, as musically, they match Valdez's energy and vocal range with musicianship that is top notch. On the subject of vocal range, Valdez expands it on "Genetic Slavery," as he begins with what many would describe as the normal singing voice, alternating between it and the power metal vocals during the song. The intro to "Crimson Poison," as well as the brief guitar wails during the opening of "Chemical Healing," shows that the music is more than just straight ahead power. "Chemical Healing" is also where the first pronounced solos appear, as prior to that, they didn't stand out from the rest of the music on the album. "Variaxis" has what sounds like flamenco guitar opening the song, as well as a guest vocal appearance from Maria Jose Pot. It is also the closest thing to a ballad, as it is not quite as strong in terms of overall power, but both sets of vocals work well together, particularly since there is full range in all facets of the music. "Entering the Universe" and "Between Parallel Worlds" are concept songs that are broken into three parts each, and given the time of each, it's not surprising that they're also the best songs on Closing the Circle, as the music is given time to develop. The only drawback on the album is that the solos could have been a little more pronounced, as musically, in terms of ability and storytelling, it's excellent, and the vocals are what make it memorable.

For as long as they've been around, Assignment hasn't found that special spark that would get them more recognized. With Closing the Circle, they may have found that spark, as it has the ability to be remembered as a special album. If you're looking for something worthwhile in the progressive power metal genre, Assignment has the album for you.

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