Melodic death metal was all the hot rage a quarter of a century ago. Yeah, it has been a while. Since then, some of the bands that spearheaded the once fresh and new subgenre have drowned their creativity and focused instead on modern pop production and simplest aimed-at-the-masses songwriting. Others branched out a bit, and the subgenre in general had an impact on various other new stylistic expansions. Today’s candidate, the four piece band The Last Reign from Buffalo, New York, pretend that the new century never happened and party with old school melodic death metal vibes like it’s 1999. Let’s check out their newest release Evolution.
The scifi-themed record is a concept album about the world’s resources being long depleted sending the human race on a quest for an uncertain future. In 12 songs that span over 54 minutes, this story is told via a variety of groovy and melodic riffs, sweeping guitar soli and scream-along-worthy vocals. The production is modern and punchy, the atmosphere is good, and overall this is a very enjoyable ride down melodic death metal street. The 54 minutes do not feel long at all, as every song kicks ass. One gripe I have with the record is the lack of variety between songs though. Especially with a record that was conceived as a concept and should tell a story, I would expect some ups and downs in tempo, some twists and turns, moods to shift from light to dark and viceversa. That’s not really the case here, instead the placement of the songs could be rerolled completely and the record would operate exactly the same.
The band revolves around lead guitarist Brian Platter, who is the only remaining member from the bands original line-up at its foundation in 2015. New on board since 2019 are Adam Svensson (vocals), Joe Maggio (bass) and Vince Mayer (drums). Thankfully they do sound like they have been playing as a unit since decades though, everything on this record syncs up like clockwork.
In the end, Evolution is as melodic death metal as melodic death metal comes, and it has some very minor flaws in regards to diversity, but overall kicks ass. If you like melodeath, you should pretty much love this, even though there’s nothing groundbreaking new here. Nostalgia is not necessarily a bad thing, just ask all the retro thrash metal bands that currently pretend we are still in the 80s. I am guilty of some love of “the good ol’ times” myself from time to time. And did not a very smart man named Jim Jarmusch once remind us that originality is an illusion anyhow, and we should inhale and celebrate the things we love and aim for authenticity instead? I could not agree more. I for one would definitely recommend The Last Reign’s Evolution – they certainly make a better job at celebrating melodic death metal than e.g. In Flames have done for a long time now.
If you feel extra generous towards The Last Reign, check out their kickstarter they have going at the moment – a link is left below.