Assignment – Reflections

Reviewed: August, 2020
Released: 2020, Massacre Records
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Erich

Album Cover

Germany’s Assignment is a band that I have always intended to explore, but never got around to doing. That has finally changed for the band’s fifth full-length album REFLECTIONS, which will be released August 21 on Massacre Records. The band has flown under the radar for many metal fans but formed back in 1996. Early demos are exceedingly difficult to find, but the band’s sound was a more extreme hybrid of death and thrash metal before transitioning to an experimental and progressive sound.

REFLECTIONS is an album that provides a realistic and pessimistic lyrical portrayal of the world, tackling topics like family dissolution, the Merciful Angel bombing campaigns by NATO in Serbia, corporate greed, and the collapse of society. The music is diverse and complex with staccato riffs, tempo changes, harmonies, and appropriate keyboards. New drummer Michael Kolar helps propel the songs with kick drumming and accented beats to complement the mix of heavy and melodic riffs. Singer Diego Valdez has a cool tone, reminding me of Ripper Owens’ mid and lower range and he is also known for his work in Dream Child and Iron Mask.

The band has described their sound as a combination of Fates Warning, Pain of Salvation and Ayreon and these elements can be heard in subtle variations throughout REFLECTIONS. I also hear a fair amount of Communic and Helker, so this is not a Dream Theater-styled progressive album. “Mercyful Angel”, a nod to Mercyful Fate, is the proper heavy opener after a brief opening instrumental that pummels from start to finish with frenetic kick drumming. The title track distinguishes itself as the most memorable and recognizable, with opening female vocals and a mid-paced melodic tempo. The emotional lyrics detail founding guitarist Goran Panić’s father and others having to leave their home country due to poverty and lack of opportunity. Inés Vera-Ortiz of Inner Stream and Beto Vázquez Infinity provides guest vocals on “Endlessly”, another track that stands out for its female-fronted style that is similar to Delain and Lacuna Coil. Final choice track would be album closer, “Silent Nation”, rewarding those who stayed to the finish with its epic and ambitious delivery.

Pascal Thüring’s mix is modern and clear but not distinctive. Overall, REFLECTIONS style of music is difficult to compose and perform, and for some listeners many songs might be dense and inaccessible. The albums many paths and textures become more apparent on multiple listens however, and with the band averaging an album every four year, there is much here to keep fans busy until the next release. Assignment deserves credit for using the experimental label and living up to it, separating themselves from countless other progressive and experimental bands with a unique sound and approach. As mentioned above, there are some good songs on the album, but no amazing or instantly memorable tunes. A running time of nearly 60 minutes, is a value for some and fatiguing for others as some songs start to blend together. REFLECTION is an album worthy of respect though and should have some appeal to fans of Communic, Helker, and Pain of Salvation.


Videos


Track Listing:

Assignment Band Photo

1. Trilogia Balkanica
2. Mercyful Angel
3. Obsession
4. Corporate Men
5. Reflections
6. Submission
7. Timeline
8. Endlessly
9. Unknown Hero
10. Silent Nation

Lineup:

Diego Valdez – Vocals
Goran Panić – Guitars
Heiko Spaarmann – Bass
Gert Sprick – Keyboards
Michael Kolar – Drums

Websites:

www.facebook.com/AssignmentMusic/

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