Nima : My first acquaintance with the British guitarist/vocalist Edward Box was by his band Vendetta, with which he released three good albums between 2007-2012. Unfortunately, Vendetta was put to rest in 2015. Box, together with his Vendetta-mates Gary Foalle (bass) and drummer Ronnie Mclean, has continued as Project Assegai, whose self-titled debut has recently been released. I liked the old-fashioned heavy metal of Vendetta, so I was rather curious about this album.
With Project Assegai Box and co. concentrate less on heavy metal, but more on (melodic) hardrock and progressive rock as it was played in the seventies and the early eighties. The gentlemen, however, do not try to sound as old-school as possible; the whole has been given a modern touch and therefore sounds pretty contemporary. The music of Project Assegai is reminiscent of bands like Rush (but less progressive), Watchtower (but less technical), old Fates Warning and similar bands. In addition, however, the influences from the NWOBHM, and Iron Maiden in particular, are clearly present. Thanks to the modern approach, the names Shakra and Edguy are also of some relevance.
All in all, this debut has become a pretty good album and, as you already may have guessed, there is no shortage on diversity. On an instrumental, vocal and technical level everything is in a good shape as well. It’s just that the total picture is less spectacular as it may sound. Most songs lack the persuasive power to keep you focused and interested from start to finish. Especially in the slower and more progressive pieces, the whole sounds a bit too long-winded. I even find the ballads 'In Your Eyes' and 'My Ship Has Sailed' incredibly boring. I am much more convinced with the faster and sturdier songs like the openers, 'Judgment Night' and 'Revolution In Mind', and 'Mother Lode'. However, I can’t say that these songs are highlights either. Once again; it all is certainly not bad, but I miss the fire, the intensity and the memorability. The same applies to Box's vocals. His voice is in my opinion far more fit for straightforward heavy metal. On this album his voice doesn’t fully come into its own, as opposed to Vendetta. All in all, 'Project Assegai' is a nice rock album, but – in spite of the quality – no more than that.