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Last Tribe
Witch Dance
June 2002
Released: 2002, Frontiers Records
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: JP

Where do these bands come from? The depth and range of talent coming out of Europe (that absolutely blow away the musically incompetent bastions of mallcore in North America) is staggering. Last Tribe are yet another kick-ass melodic metal band that can easily play circles around any number of Korn clones. Their bio says, “…magnificent melodic metal songwriting in the vein of Queensryche meets Sabbath and Yngwie Malmsteen with hints of American 80’s metal as well.” That alone was enough to put a smile on my face as I popped in the disc. Sabbath? No. Malmsteen, Queensryche and 80’s American metal , ala Riot, Burning Starr, and old Virgin Steele? Absolutely!



In fact these four dudes from Sweden sound surprisingly American in their song-writing, if I can be so bold to make a gross generalization. They also have some pedigree as this is their second release and founder, Magnus Karlsson was once in Midnight Sun. The new drummer is Jamie Salazar from The Flower Kings so you KNOW he can drum! The new bassist is Dick Lowgren who was in Armageddon and toured with Arch Enemy and In Flames, which is news to me because I had never heard of him before. No big deal. I don’t know profess to know it all and those are damn good credentials to me! Finally the vocalist, Rickard Bengsston sounds like a nice cross between Blaze Bailey (sound) and Mike Vescara (style and inflections).



The band is surprisingly heavy for the Frontiers label but then again as the disc progresses the underlying melody is clearly evident. All the songs are catchy and a nice semi-acoustic instrumental ballad called “Agadir” adds some sophistication and just a hint of middle-eastern flavour. Spice as it were! The intro “The Gathering (Intro)” is lame. Add it to the ever growing category of “tuneless, short, and unnecessary instrumental introductions that sound like the dull drone of a vacuum or a furnace turning on in winter”. Seriously, it’s lame. Well, OK it has a bit of nice cello or something laced with synth and gothy female vocals that is supposed to build up to add excitement or inspiration, but it has been done so many times before it comes across as derivative, especially because there is a longer synth intro in the first track, “Witch Dance”, which by the way doesn’t fit the rest of the tune.



The track “Man of Peace” is probably my favorite with a neat musical effect that sounds kind of like something Mr. Big (and an obscure band called T-Ride) used to do. Kind of a humming, guitar, bass thing, I’m sorry, words fail me… I’m not a musician. I’m easily impressed by what could well be a simple trick but I know what I like--and that sounded cool to me! The rest are classic melodic metal, heavy enough to be called metal but nor speed , thrash, power or any other sub-categorization, just classic American metal. Kinda like more melodic, faster Lizzy Borden, it is hard to name exact influences which is another good point; familiarity without copying.



The cover is pretty dull, the logo is weak, the band name is kinda lame come to think of it and the songs are deeply rooted in 80’s sentiments, “Dreamer”, “Messenger”, “The Eternal Curse” and “Behind your Eyes” being classic examples. However, the songs are so well done in this particular style that the music (as it should) overshadows those slight shortcomings. The solos are elegant, tasteful and not too shred like at all. Again another influence that just jumped in my head… Reign of Terror. Perhaps I would to see Karlsson shred a tiny bit more but I love those harmonic squeals he throws in all over the place. The keyboards (also by Karlsson) are often quite upfront but very simplistic. They not too lush by adding tons of layered texture but more of a boppy, poppy additional, underlying riff that compliments the main riff. It’s hard to explain, maybe they sound a bit like Greg Guiffria used to play, not too sweeping but more…punchy. This is a very welcome entry into my collection and I will be seeking out the debut and recommending Last Tribe to my friends who may be still committed to an 80’s sound but are looking for new bands in the year 2002. Each time I listen to this I like it more and more. I hope you will like it too.
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» The Ritual
by Anders Sandvall

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by JP

» Witch Dance
by Anders Sandvall


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Last Tribe
Witch Dance
June 2002
Released: 2002, Frontiers Records
Rating: 5.0/5
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall

At last the follow-up record to “The Ritual” of Last Tribe is here. Once again they have created splendid world-class hard rock. They are still melodic, but the neo-classical parts are gone.



The leader, Magnus, once again chose to make his record in the Roastinghouse Recording Studio in Malmö, Sweden. The record is produced and mixed by Magnus/Anders (Theo) Thenander. The production is brilliant. The sound is really heavy.



Magnus has changed people compared to the debut so now the band consists of:



Magnus Karlsson guitar and keyboard

Rickard Bengtsson lead-vocals

Jaime Salazar (Midnight Sun) drums

Dick Löwgren (Armageddon,Arch Enemy and In Flames) bass



Magnus and Rickard are the only original members of the band. Magnus is very impressive. He seems to have the capacity to be one of the new guitar heroes, much like Yngwie Malmsteen was in the eighties. Rickard on lead vocals is also impressive. He has a wide register, and his voice suits the music.



The songs and the music are written by Magnus. The only exception is “Wash Your Sins Away,” where Rickard helped. All the material is new production. This wasn’t the case on the record “The Ritual,” where the band used old material. The first album consisted of songs that were going to be on the next Midnight Sun album. Accordingly, what they called their debut album was not technically Last Tribe, and, instead, this album should be called their real debut.



Personal favorites are “Witch Dance”, “Messenger”, “Wash Your Sins Away” and instrumental “Agadie,” where Magnus has a tremendous solo on guitar and shows his skill as guitar player.



For lovers of melodic hardrock, this is a “must have” album. I am hoping that we get to hear these guys live on tour. Unfortunately, they didn’t tour after their so-called “debut” album, so we can only hope that they will on this one.



For more info about the band: http://www.lasttribe.net
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» The Ritual
by Anders Sandvall

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by JP

» Witch Dance
by Anders Sandvall


Next review: » Laster - Wijsgeer & Narreman
Previous review: » Last Tribe - The Ritual





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