Last Union | Most Beautiful Day | Album Review February 2017
Last Union | Most Beautiful Day
Release Year: 2017
Genre: Progressive Metal
Elisa Scarpeccio – Vocals
Cristiano Tiberi – Guitars
Mike LePond – Bass
Uli Kusch – Drums
James Labrie – Vocals – President Evil/Taken (Radio Edit)/
A Place In Heaven/Taken (Studio Edit)
Most Beautiful Day
President Evil (feat. James LaBrie)
The Best of Magic
Taken (feat. James LaBrie) [Radio Edit]
A Place in Heaven (feat. James LaBrie)
Back in the Shadow
Taken (feat. James LaBrie)
Last Union Official Facebook Page
Last Union Official YouTube Channel
For the last 25 years any time you heard about or were introduced to a ‘female-fronted’ band the general conclusion drawn is usually that the band must be a Symphonic metal band. Symphonic Metal meaning the inclusion of choirs and small to large orchestral aesthetics. The other conclusion drawn is that the band must be a Beauty & Beast metal band. Beauty & Beast meaning the male vocal takes on a full guttural death metal style growl and the female vocal is full operatic. In 85% of the cases this has all been true. The other 10% of the remaining 15% has come from the progressive rock/metal community.
When I mention Progressive Metal I mean a blend of heavy, guitar-oriented metal music enriched with compositions innovation and complex arrangements, usually expressed through diverse instrumentation and often (but not always) with odd-time signatures. To take what progressive rock pioneers did and add a metal element in the compositions and song arrangements.
Pioneering ‘female fronted’ progressive metal are The Gathering, To Mera, Agora, After Forever, Kingfisher Sky and Stream Of Passion & Ayreon ,to a certain extent. Bands who are now innovating ‘female fronted’ progressive metal are Vandroya from Brazil, MindMaze from the United States, Ancient Prophecy, Flaming Row, Universal Mind Project Amaranthe from Sweden and now from Italy Last Union.
Last Union are one of the most pure progressive/power/melodic metal bands to come around in the last 10 years. It is no secret by now that Italy has been one of the leading countries to produce quality progressive rock/metal bands since the late 1960’s. Bands like Death SS, Novembre, Rhapsody, Eldritch, Empty Tremor and Vision Divine are a few of many progressive metal bands to come forth from Italy. Even one of the top 5 Rock/Metal Opera’s of all time with Daniele Liverani’s GENIUS Rock/Metal Opera.
Last Union continues this rich melodic tradition from Italy. Last Union now enters that discussion of the rich progressive metal tradition from Italy. On a global front Last Union are a natural progression into the evolution of progressive metal. Last Union’s line up is nothing short of remarkable. Last Union was founded by Elisa Scarpeccio – Vocals and Christiano Tiberi – Guitars, Mike Lepond – Bass (Symphony X) and the legendary Uli Kusch – Drums (ex-Helloween/Gamma Ray).
On the surface Last Union’s Most Beautiful Day seems like just a collection of 11 different songs representing 11 different days. However the more the listener engages the album alongside the album booklet with more detailed attention you begin to see the songs line up as a common themed conceptual album.Mike Lepond from Symphony X once again proves why he is one of ,if not the most sought after bass player in the progressive rock and metal communities. Uli Kusch once again proves his legendary drummer prowess that helped bands like Helloween become the international band they were. To see the tracks line up this way the listener really needs to spend time in the booklet as they listen. Last Union’s Most Beautiful Day is straight prog/power from the first to last riff on the album. I will point some highlights out from each of the 11 tracks on this offering.
Most Beautiful Day opens up as a straight away heavy metal track. That is met in a two part vocal harmony between the female and male narrative. The female obviously being a very strong lead and male lead serving more in a echo capacity. The guitar is very modern. The guitar has the depth of sound of a seven string. Elisa Scarpeccio has one of the most distinctive voices to come along in the progressive metal community within the last 15 years.
President Evil (feat. James LaBrie) begins with a heavy rhythm based chord progression. Cristiano Tiberi quickly establishes himself as a guitarist with a very unique and distinctive sound and style of play. Cristiano Tiberi certainly does a fine job separating his sound among his peers. He literally has to in order for this song to not come off as any Dream Theater or James Labrie solo project. James Labrie displays great vocal presence alongside the rhythmic portion of this track. There is a nice harmonic break in the middle before a powerful two tier guitar solo comes in.
Hardest Way sees the band’s focus directed more towards the bass/drum rhythm section in harmony with some warmer vocal work from Elisa. This track also allows Elisa to show various aspects to her vocals. She certainly has her own sound and I am sure as the band begin to play shows on Most Beautiful Day, the world will see a young and powerful vocalist that is to be reckoned with.
Purple Angels continues to see the band experiment with various rhythm styles along with various vocal harmonies to perfectly compliment those intricate rhythm sections. The vocals sound like a mini choir briefly until Elisa comes in with authority with the lead vocal. There is a great balance in the vocals. The vocal work goes in and out between lead, to backing vocals in a echo. About the 2:00 mark there is a nice break in the instrumental that allows for the lead vocal to really come through.
The Best of Magic begins almost like a classic AOR track. The start of this track takes on a heavier ballad style about it. This track is a very easy song to follow. It could be one of those songs that the fan base of this band will sing back to them in a live setting. The guitar solo is very uplifting and the chord progressions smoother.
Taken (feat. James LaBrie) [Radio Edit] starts out with a wall of both a lead guitar solo and a deep rhythmic section between the guitar/bass/drum. The crunchy distortion in the guitar gives this various depths of heaviness. The intricate vocal presentation between James Labrie and Elisa Scarpeccio is nothing short of stellar. Elisa even sounds a little like James in various lines. If you are a listener following the booklet you will see a common theme conceptual thing happening.
18 Euphoria starts out with a powerful chord progressive passage. This is met with some very powerful vocal work. The vocal work really takes on various levels of harmony. This track clearly displays the bands ability to experiment with various levels of vocal harmonies.
A Place in Heaven (feat. James LaBrie) starts out with a beautiful semi acoustic guitar that has another wonderful and heavier guitar double tracked that allows the track to feel like many guitars are the driving force. Cristiano Tiberi has a very uncanny ability of double tracking and making the guitar sound like a instrument in union and agreement with itself. There is a wonderfully engineered spoken word section in this song as well. The guitar solos and rhythm sections are total beasts here. Uli Kusch shows again why he is one of metal’s legendary drummers.
Ghostwriter starts out as more of a pure power metal track with progressive elements. This track storms ahead with a power metal passage that has various intricate chord progressive elements. This is one of the faster and heavier tracks on the album. The solos are hugs, the bass/drum rhythm section storms all the way through this track.
Limousine is another hard and heavy progressive metal track on the album. Much in the way Ghostwriter is the power track, this one sees the band taking a few more chances at intricate progressive time signatures. The atmosphere is completely straight away power/progressive through this one as well.
Back in the Shadow begins with a more experimental intro before the track takes on a more ‘pure power metal’ presence. The band by now has established themselves as great students to progressive metal but with modern elements.
Taken (feat. James LaBrie) [Studio Edit] this is almost twice as long as the radio edit for obvious reasons. However I would be remiss is omitting that this track is also the epic on the track clocking in at 8+ minutes.That is rather short for progressive standards however this track is still done with great detail and care. The band takes much more time on the intro and the outro portions of the song. This also shows that the band is capable of longer compositions if they want to ever go in that direction.
For being very young both Elisa Scarpeccio and Cristiano Tiberi had a very clear vision on how Last Union’s Most Beautiful Day needed to sound. These fine young musicians even recruited some of the very best in the world with Mike LePond, Uli Kusch and James Labrie. Most Beautiful Day lacks nothing in substance. Although the tracks are shorter considering the other work of their recruits and guest musician, they still meet and fill the objective the band put in place. For the detail and insight of such young musicians I give Last Union’s Most Beautiful Day a 4/5.