LAST BASTION is an American Power Metal band from Seattle. Two years after their formation in 2012, its members have a first full-length ready since April 2014. “The Road To Redemption” is the title. This album contains ten tracks, resulting in a playtime of almost 60 minutes. The artwork was done by Caio Caldas from CadiesArt.com, who has worked with DRAGONFORCE, CRYSTAL TEARS, SOULSPELL and many others.
“The Road To Redemption” starts with “I Know When I’m Home”. An atmospheric intro with keyboards leading the way and powerful vocals (clean with a rough edge), ideal for a Heavy / Power Metal band, singing the chorus. The whole slowly grows, builds and erupts indeed into melodic Power Metal. Guitars deliver power, but also do a lot of melodic work together with the keyboards. The song itself, as most on this album, are quite theatrical, hymnic even, and have catchy choruses. For a starter, this is very well done.
“Ancient Lands” is another highlight, I’d say. It begins with a medieval intro and so it builds with dual lead guitars. When the keyboards come in, forces are joined with the guitars to create a jolly melody and together they go through the portal of Power Metal. Powerful Metal indeed, and as mentioned before, a melodic and catchy chorus. But here it’s of the pounding sort. The jolly theme returns, but sounds less smooth with that specific drum pattern. Furious, pounding Metal is on offer afterwards to put the song back on the tracks.The music becomes more bombastic and hymnic around halfway. This is also the basis for the obligatory guitar solo. There’s even room for a bass solo, yes indeed. Been listening to ANCIENT BARDS, have they? 😉 And of course the keyboards also need their moment of fame. There is actually a lot of attention for solos in this song, even towards the end singing is not needed anymore. All in all, another good song, though not always as smooth as it could/should be.
With “Plataea” the band remains in the medieval timezone, as the intro clearly indicates. When the Metal breaks loose, it’s hymnic and melodic, but with those powerful vocals. The chorus is done in a Folky manner. Even the solos are aimed in that direction. The guitar sound sounded at some point like I was listening to the soundtrack of a game, which reminds me of VOMITRON and his album “No NES For The Wicked”. See my review here. The last highlight, or rather song that stood out, is “The Way Of Kings Pt I – Cursed By Fate”, which starts with the chorus and so leads into pounding, melodic Metal being unleashed. Uptempo verses this time. The chorus is also very nice and different from what is done in most other songs on this album. The solo moment does sound a little wild, too wild perhaps.
After Pt I, there is a Pt II, namely “The Way Of Kings Pt II – Stormblessed”. This track focuses on instrumental talk, lots of it. At some point it even sounds a bit like DRAGONFORCE, particularly when there’s a solo to be played with guitars and keyboards taking turns. There are lyrics, though, backed by the typical humpa beat and even blastbeats. More solos take over afterwards. And this doesn’t make the song more interesting. On the contrary.
Going back up the tracklist to “Northern Kingdom”. This one has furious, thundering drums (which sound a bit messy due to the production) adding to the powerful Metal in which the keyboards are the main suppliers of melody. However, speaking of the drums: Matt plays a certain pattern that is a bit hard to identify/distinguish, as it sounds messy and hurts the listening experience. The tempo drops during the solos. While I understand the need for and role of the keyboards, they do sound a bit cheap.
“Angel’s Tyranny” begins with the piano. As the intro carries on, it sounds a little like a power ballad, but then midtempo Heavy Metal is at play. In se, good. But the drums bursting like that instead of regular playing? This just doesn’t sound and feel right. Nothing wrong with bursts, but not the whole time. And no, this is not like a Death Metal song with blastbeats. There I can understand and follow, but here it’s more like a fill was used as regular pattern. Add the production to it and it can only result in a blur, a chaotic piece. Or was that the idea, looking at the title? The chorus is as usual: melodic, catchy, hymnic. See also e.g. RHAPSODY OF FIRE and similar.
The title track, “Road To Redemption”, begins with marching drums. When full musical power is activated, the marching remains, though a little different. The verses flow onwards with soaring vocals, which don’t reach the high notes as expected. A little too high, I’d say. The chorus is of the traditional kind here, or like most other songs on this album. And… blastbeats during the solos? Why?
“Liberation” is a song of power and tempo. The organ takes care of the melodic side this time. Hymnic verses connect with the uptempo, melodic chorus. Last but not least, there’s “Forevermore”, which starts with acoustic, Folky music. When the electric components are awakened, it’s time for another round of jolly tunes. And of course blasting Power Metal, which doesn’t sound as smooth as it could/should be, to be honest. The chorus is alright. Solo? Plenty of those.
LAST BASTION’s debut album, “The Road To Redemption”, offers melodic, keyboard-laden Power Metal reminiscent, depending on the song, of a plethora of other bands in the genre: DARK MOOR, (old) NOSTRADAMEUS, FALCONER, KALEDON, MANOWAR, PRIMAL FEAR, and so on. The songs rely heavily on catchy choruses and melodies. However, not each song is a hit, although there are some nice ideas here and there. Mainly around the middle of the tracklist things start to go downhill, not in the least because of the production. Yes, that aspect is always tricky and it does cost quite a bit if you want a solid sound. But another aspect of this album is that certain songs are just too long. Too much time is spent on adding solos, leads, what have you. Nothing against long songs, if they’re interesting, variable, and exciting enough. Here, chopping a minute or two off the longer tracks would have been more beneficial to the overall listening experience. “The Road To Redemption” could have been a good EP. Now it’s a mediocre album. Or maybe the songs come out better on stage?
- I Know When I’m Home
- Ancient Lands
- Northern Kingdom
- Angel’s Tyranny
- Road To Redemption
- The Way Of Kings Pt I – Cursed By Fate
- The Way Of Kings Pt II – Stormblessed
Joe Lovatt – vocals, guitar
Matt Lahr – guitar
Matt Bethman – keyboards
Larry Barnard – bass
Matt Carter – drums