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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Review: Last Frontier – Aether (Equivalent Exchange)

Label: Revalve Records

Date: January 24th, 2020

One cannot blame the Italians for using and misusing the genre. After all, they basically invented it. Of course, I’m talking about this keyboard driven version of epic heavy metal. Otherwise known as power metal. Last Frontier is another offspring of this type of musical creation. And not that bad one, I might add. I’ve most definitely heard much worse and much less inspired products of this prominence.

Now, this band has had more than enough time to practice and get to this end result. Fifteen years are behind them. Within this time they did work hard on achieving what is now titled “Aether (Equivalent Exchange)”. The Italians used the tried and tested technique of producing demo recordings before delving into the complex issue that is formation of a full length record.

The one I’m listening to right now is their third already. However, the band still takes its time. It has been 6 years since the previous one. Dealing with this type of multilayered material usually does take time to get to a proper result and I can only be glad this quintet actually took it. Simply put, this offering of theirs is quite fine, to say the least.

By the way, there is a whole lot of progressive metal elements involved. Mostly on display within the pretty dynamic track development. Last Frontier has somehow managed to keep the instrumental mastery under “control” as much as it is possible, yet the arrangements dominate throughout, giving each single instrument an opportunity to shine individually. Still, this does not make for an incomprehensible cacophony. All of these experimentations still serve the higher purpose of inducing the much needed emotion.

Perhaps the best example of the above stated submission of individualism to a higher goal is the final track of the record. Spanning over 12 minutes (well if it isn’t the defining cliché of the genre) it displays a vast variety of musical influences that together form an epic, gliding the listener through.

As does the mentioned “Shahar”, the remaining tracks also give out a lot of catchy moments. Just as much as those instrumental pieces you might not get at first, but which make a very important portion of this record. Last Frontier manage to produce tracks that are both memorable and requiring deeper involvement from the listener. I find it the biggest plus for “Aether”.

The one other element of this album that needs to be mentioned separately is the cover artwork. Though reminiscent of a certain Elvenking (yep, the Italian connection) record, even if less colored, it depicts the thematic approach to “Aether” quite nicely.

Overall, Last Frontier has most certainly learned all their lessons. Not that there is nowhere left to go, but at this point this band is a pretty strong representative of the genre that for years seemed to be under a creative block. Should their learning curve keep rising in the years to come, I can only imagine the impact they might have, even on the global metal circles.