Released: 2010, Stormspell Records
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
Last Descendants are a relatively unknown progressive speed/thrash metal group, coming from the Bay Area, CA. They released their debut album, ONE NATION UNDER GOD, on German Aaarrg Records back in 1988 already, and went hiding around 1993 after putting out their so far last known release – a 4-track demo that obviously did not manage to bring a recording deal for them.
Now according to the band´s website, they have re-grouped once again, and a follow-up album, titled THE HOLY WAR, is in the works and scheduled to be released in January 2011.
Cannot wait for that because I found the band´s debut album – added with the band´s 4-song 1986 W.W. III demo, promising - full of pretty complex and catchy songs that were all somewhat progressive by nature, but still having lots of both speed and thrash metal´s sheer firepower in all of them. I wasn´t hooked instantly by this record, but after spinning it around, let´s say, 3 or 4 times, it suddenly started growing on me.
After spinning it even more, I also realized one thing how much these Bay Area power/progressive thrashers actually did sound like one other band: the Danish thrash veterans Artillery – and especially their early career, counting the band´s 1st two albums, FEAR OF TOMORROW and TERROR SQUAD, to this pile. If Artillery were more leant toward the thrash element on those two classic thrash masterpieces, Last Descendants kept things a little bit more melodic and progressive side of speed/thrash metal on their debut - sort of also having guts to differ from the typical Bay Area sound in the late 80s, which is an admirable thing, of course. The band´s vocalist, James Wait has also much the same roughness and machismo in his vocal delivery that Flemming Rönsdort had in the stalwarts of fine Danish thrash metal, Artillery.
There are quite a few tracks on ONE NATION UNDER GOD that have some true so-called ´hit potential´ in them, but in some odd way a lengthy instrumental tune, “P.G. 13”, caught my attention by showing these fellows' true skills with the capability to master their instruments – and making them seemingly melt together into one bigger masterpiece that doesn´t even want to hide these guys´ aim to make things more progressive within their music. In fact, one could imagine how Death Angel´s epic instrumental song, “The Ultra-Violence” might sound like a little less aggressive, 3 minutes shorter and more mid-paced and progressive.
As for the CD bonus, Last Descendants´ official debut recording, the W.W. III 4-track demo that they recorded at Montage recording studio, California, in 1986, is more traditional heavy metal type of effort, in which they already tried out their wings with more progressive elements – wrapping up their sound with some harder sounding ingredients in form of aggressive proto-speed/thrash riffs and stuff. The most ear-catching song out of these 4 tracks must be the last song, titled “Lines of Death”, that reveals finely these fellows´ intention to take their next step towards the harder and heavier side of heavy metal. Kenneth Ueda on vocals was amazing too, having a pretty wide range of vocal delivery (even with well-done high-pitched screams) that obviously helped the band to get their name around a bit more because of Kenneth.
So, you think this CD might even be worth your hard earned pennies? Absolutely.