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The Last Viking
Released: 1999, Heptagon Records
I realize that this release is over a year old now, but it was overlooked and that was unfortunate. We can't possibly cover EVERY single metal release that comes out! I just got this on cassette(?!?) and it's been playing a fair bit in the car lately so I figured why not write-up a short review on it? If you've never heard of this band then here's the most interesting thing about this release...both Jens Johansson and Anders Johansson are in the band! As you're probably aware both used to be in Yngwie's band a few years back. They are probably two of the most recognized ex-Yngwie musicians outside of his army of former "band" members. Jens is now playing with the mighty Stratovarius and Anders is the drummer for HammerFall. The vocalist on this CD was also Yngwie's vocalist for his unpopular Eclipse CD. I didn't even realize the guy on here was also an ex-patriot of the Malmsteen army. So you're wondering what style of music this is? Well yeah, it's power metal but it does not sound like HammerFall or Stratovarius. This band/project has more in common with their work in Yngwie without the backing of a phenomenal guitarist like Malmsteen. That is not to say that guitarist Michael Romeo is a "slacker" - he's just not in the same league as Yngwie. Vocalist, Goran Edman is a melodic singer but his vocals are nowhere near as high pitched as many other current power metal vocalists.
Not surprisingly, the prominent instrument on here is the keyboards. They take on the front seat and are as prominent as the guitars playing what I'll call "lead rhythms" and trade off soloing with the guitars. On some songs this works out fine, but in a few places the keyboards have a weird sound/effect on them. I not a huge fan of keys taking the lead spot in any band, but if any keyboardist were to try to do this in a metal setting then this album is about as good as that could be.
To close off, this is not a must own release. If you are a big fan of keyboards, then by all means check this out. Hopefully Jens and Anders will get to work on another recording together. Perhaps they will really push the limits on the next one and make it even more of an indulgent work showcasing their obvious talent.
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