Assignment – Reflections Review

Progressive power metal has infiltrated the ranks of the olde here at AMG Worldwide. Last week the almighty Steel Druhm took on Awake by Design, and now Yours Truly has been assigned Assignment. Assignment is a horrible name for a band, especially when one is assigned reviews. The obvious joke could fill the entire review’s word count. “What’s my assignment this week?” “Assignment.” “Yeah—what is it?” “Assignment.” And so on. But I shall refrain from inflating this review with a cheesy dad joke any more than I already have. Assignment are a German prog-power band,1 and Reflections is their fifth album, an hour-long, mostly politically charged rant against the current state of the world. Do the performances elevate this material, or are we left with a toothless op-ed?

The band claims to have no boundaries to their music, incorporating anything from death metal to prog rock. However, I don’t hear the boundlessness nature of which they expound. This is pretty formulaic progressive power metal, albeit well done. “Trilogia Balkanica” and “Mercyful Angel” get things moving in fine fashion, with the requisite buildup featuring newsreel clips, orchestration, and bombast in the first part, and a riff that could be right at home on the last Michael Romeo solo album on the second part. “Mercyful Angel,” like many of the songs on Reflections, is a diatribe against America.

New additions to the band prove worthwhile. Michael Kolar is new behind the drum kit, and his performance is an anchor for the music, solid, at times creative, but never overdone. Inés Vera-Ortiz joins on vocals at times, most notably as the co-lead on “Endlessly,” a song that leans more towards straightforward hard rock but is a welcome changeup from the power-prog material. These musicians augment an already strong group. Founder Goran Panić brings solid riffs and leads to the team, and while his songwriting may not set any records for innovation, every track is slick and professional. Diego Valdez comes straight from the Dio/Russell Allen/Jørn school of dramatics. Valdez attempts to wring every molecule of emotion from each word, and while it can be a bit much at times, his voice is strong and effective, especially considering the album’s themes of societal corruption.

The final song on Reflections, “Silent Nation,” is the strongest. If the other nine songs were this good, Assignment might have a Record o’ the Month candidate musically. The overtly political nature of the lyrics, no matter which side of the fence you might find yourself on, are off-putting. However, this is the motivation for more and more bands these days: anger at the current plight of the world, and the seeming lack of leadership dealing with it all. 59 minutes of ranting exhausts me, even on the musically strong cuts such as “Silent Nation.” Much like the openers, it’s reminiscent of Michael Romeo’s latest work, musically intricate, well-performed and arranged. A handful of listens in, though, I found myself tuning out the lyrics. The angrier amongst us might find solace in such rants, though; I leave it to the listeners to decide as they see fit.2

Listen, there’s nothing really wrong with Reflections. The music is competent, the vocals are generally enjoyable, the production is above average. Assignment simply doesn’t bring anything new to the table. No boundaries are stretched, no chances taken. Eight listens in, I enjoy it while it’s playing but don’t remember much of it an hour later. This is progressive, sort-of-power metal by numbers with nothing to perk our ears up. These days I’m not looking for bands that are adept at coloring inside the lines. Push at least one limit, guys; give us something to grab hold of here.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Massacre Records
Websites: | |
Release Dates: EU: 2020.08.21 | NA: 09.18.2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. By way of Argentina and Serbia.
  2. Huck N Roll, Sensibly Restrained Metal Guy. – Dr. Wvrm
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