LAST KINGDOM is a Swedish melodic Power Metal band, formed in 2004. The two people responsible for this are Stefan Jacobson and Freddy Olofsson, who both worked in a Volvo plant. The line-up for LAST KINGDOM changed a few times, but two years later, a first release was made: “Land Of Dreams”. Keyboardist Stefan Malmenlid joined soon after that, as did bassist Jimmy Malmenlid, his brother. Drummer Erik Knutsson completed the line-up. Two guitarists are better than one, and so Stefan Andersson filled that position. Of course the band played gigs, even shared the stage with WOLF and DRAGONLAND. But the line-up changed again after that. But that didn’t prevent the core members to finalize the band’s debut full-length, “Chronicles Of The North”. Limb Music Products saw hail in this and offered the band a contract. LMP and Power Metal, it’s a classic marriage. “Chronicles” Of The North was released on the 9th March 2012, contains 9 tracks and a playtime of about 48 minutes.
“Chronicles Of The North” takes off with the title track, a typical fast-paced double-bass Power Metal song. Melody comes from guitar and keyboards, guiding the way for the clean vocals. The musical focus does lie on the guitars and drums, while the keyboards have a secondary role. Important here is that the song is catchy and has nice harmonies. The situation improves then with the first highlight: “Warrior Kings”. This reminded me of the first two albums of KALEDON. You get pounding, heavy-riffed Power Metal with backing keys. Although it must be said that the keyboards are a bit more prominent here, also through piano touches in the bridge and symphonics in the chorus. The solo moment is well done, including the instrumental bit afterwards. It’s a simple song, but effective. See it as KALEDON meets POWER QUEST and a sniff of old HAMMERFALL.
“Daylight Retreats” begins with a mysterious intro, there’s danger ahead. Midtempo Power Metal kicks in, though with faster, Thrashier pieces. In general, it’s not a fast track at all, rather hymnic. The melodic levels are biggest in the chorus, but the tempo is also the lowest there. Again KALEDON came to mind, aso because of the high-pitched screams. Al things considered, this is an enjoyable track. With “Silver Moon” another typical fast-paced melodic song comes along. The keyboards stand in for the melodies, the guitars for the shredding. In general, not that bad, but the high-pitched screams are annoying. Keyboards set in “The World is Dying” with a symphonic/Folky melody. The beat and rhythm follow. In this midtempo track the keyboards lead in an organ-ic way. All in all it’s alright, but I think the song would benefit from having a vocalist with a stronger voice who adds that rougher edge. The bridge, compared to the verses, is slower, more atmospheric and darker, while the music is given free reigns in the chorus.
“End Of Life” then, another speedy track, offering thundering Power Metal with Folky melodies. The solos stand out here, delivered by guitars and keyboards. But then “Fate” steps in, an epic track, epic as in Epic Metal. Melodies from the keyboards, rhythm and power from the guitars and drums. The chorus is where the action is, raging and melodic. This culd have been a POWER QUEST song, back when Alessio was the vocalist. Not bad, nothing super either, though. “Abandoned” is where the Swedes slow down. The verses give the song a power ballad character, while the chorus has all volume levers risen. The solo is well done, after which all falls silent for a serene chorus line. “Lost” sets in with an atmospheric intro after which midtempo Metal is unleashed. However, the guys did make sure there’s still a good touch of melody. What did surprise me was the contrast with the chorus (fast and raging). And this is a good choice.
LAST KINGDOM’s debut album, “Chronicles Of The North”, has a title which can make you think this is the first in a series, like it happened with RHAPSODY, ANCIENT BARDS, KALEDON and more. But as far as I can tell, this is a stand-alone album. The songs aren’t anything world-changing, it’s melodic Power Metal by the book. The result is overall enjoyable, but the vocalist could use a bit of roughness in his voice. Or better, the music could benefit from that. This album is more for fans of the musical genre. If you’re into POWER QUEST, GALLOGLASS, FREEDOM CALL, THUNDERSTONE, KALEDON and similar, then LAST KINGDOM can be added to your list. I’m more interested to see what album no. 2 will be like.
- Chronicles Of The North
- Warrior Kings
- Daylight Retreats
- Silver Moo
- The World Is Dying
- End Of Life
Stefan Jacobsen – vocals
Johan Olofsson – guitar
David – Stockman – guitar
Stefan Malmenlid – keyboards
Jimmy Malmenlid – bass
Sebastian Lopez – drums
Therése Gunnarsson – background vocals