Playing Chess (Single; Gioli & Assia Cover)

by Ben Sebastian

Track listing: Playing Chess

Last month I reviewed Ben Sebastian's single "Banged Up," introducing the world to his darker era. So when his follow-up "Playing Chess" crossed my desk I initially thought he'd played a trick on all of us. "Playing Chess" begins quite splendidly. Perhaps a bit of a darker feel--ala Ronnie James Dio's whispering in the intro of "Don't Talk To Strangers" or Barry Clayton's biblical passages in Iron Maiden's "Number of the Beast"--but less ominous. The piano is actually quite pleasant.

Then BOOM! The heavy-hitting elements of "Playing Chess" explode and continue exploding until the song's conclusion.

Do you ever feel like
playing chess
But the board will
always change?
Do you ever feel like
someone else
And you're stuck
living their play?

A tribute to the Italian duo Gioli & Assia and their immense impact on Sebastian's personal and professional life, "Playing Chess" is an expression of gratitude. While "Banged Up" includes a reference to actually playing chess, there was no intentional correlations that the time of writing. It was more a bit of kismet, a sign of things to come.

Musically, Sebastian's cover could not be more different from it's inspirator. He composes with a brutality. Terrifying black metal vocals and artillery-firing at you in the form of a double-bass drum attack. Riffs from Hell.

Accompanying this sonic onslaught are a pair of videos (with and without lyrics) embodying the same hauntingly AI-generated feel as "Banged Up." He's found the right visual representation for the sounds he's conjuring up from within. 

Check out the videos, his old and new releases, and more at

Posted on 9/9/23