Space themed power metal has always been a cherished treasure for me. Being a fan of sci-fi, space metal is a no-brainer and bands like Ayreon just excel at it. It’s been a while since I’ve heard good metal in the same vein. Well, that is until now. On their third album, Assignment creates a well written and epic album. Does it borrow from other bands? Sure it does, but that doesn’t make it bad. The influence from Ayreon is present, but it doesn’t make them sound like a rip off. They add enough of their own style to break away from being called an imitator. On “Inside of the Machine,” Assignment is more focused and skilled than ever before.
The album opens up with “Upload the System” which couldn’t be more perfect of an album opener. The instruments have a mysterious sound and the choirs give the song an extra push that lays the road down for the journey ahead. “The Intrusion” has a very Symphony X vibe to it and is a perfect continuation of the opening track. “I am the Machine” and “Resistance” continue the progressive flow with “Resistance” having some really impressive keyboard and guitar work. “Love Between Heaven and Hell” is a decent song that sort of misses the mark. It tries to be an emotional ballad, and while it does succeed in certain aspects, it ultimately falls flat. “The Betrayal” is another low point on the album that can be skipped. It doesn’t do anything that hasn’t been done on the past few tracks. “Messiah’s Fall” brings the album back on track complete with great vocals and spot on musicianship. “Ending Love” is one of the best tracks on the album, hands down. The keyboard intro leads into an awesome riff and the transition couldn’t be more perfect. The chorus is also one of the best on the album. “Another Sacrifice” has a crazy keyboard outro that has to be heard to believed. “Walk Alone” and “Eternal Silence” are tied for best track on the album. Both are incredibly well done and have some really impressive guitar work. If I had to choose though, I’d go with “Eternal Silence.” It’s the track where everything comes together in a complete package that won’t be forgotten. “Bug in the System” is a perfect instrumental bridge between “Eternal Silence” and the closing track, “End of the Machine.” The closing track doesn’t do anything new and it’s not quite as good as the last couple of tracks, but it does end the album well.
“Inside of the Machine” isn’t a perfect album, but it’s damn good. The few missteps it takes are made up by the sheer variety the other songs offer. There are so many different styles of music crammed into one album, and that is a hard feat to pull off for any band. Assignment knows how make an album that really feels like one big idea. The songs never stray from the general sound and everything has its place. As I’ve said before, the musicianship is outstanding. Some of the best sounds this year. “Inside of the Machine” is a fantastic album that might give Ayreon’s new one a run for its money. Fans of progressive space metal, rejoice. Your album has arrived.
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