A.C.T - Last Epic
Atenzia Records
Metallic Progressive Rock
14 songs (55:34)
Release year: 2003
A.C.T, Atenzia
Reviewed by Thomas
Archive review

A.C.T is a quality progressive rock/metal band hailing from Sweden. This is their third release and has yet to disappoint me. Every single time I listen to it, I hear new details everywhere. From short and thrilling keyboard melodies to complex rhythm sections, which I didn’t notice earlier. The music is overall very happy, uplifting and damn catchy and original, constantly putting a smile on my face. I’ve never heard a supposedly rock/metal band do this kind of stuff before. It has a circus/broadway musical feel to it all the way, especially on the backing vocals and various rhythm sections, as you can hear on Ted’s Ballad and Mr. Landlord among others.

Instrumentally speaking, the musicians are all very skilled. The guitarist uses a 7-string for the entire album, and manages to put out quality riffs and solos all over without sounding dark or depressive. I find that pretty impressive. The various keyboard sounds are carefully chosen to fit the moods of each piece, and is very visible in the musical picture. Trust me, you won’t find any cheesy keyboard wankery here. The drumming is also very impressive, as a lot of the arrangements here are advanced, as they do both offbeats and temposhifts trough the whole record. The vocals fit the music well due to his thin and clear voice. However, they may take some time to get used to, depending on what you’re into.

After a short intro to set the theme and mood for this concept album, Wailings from a building kicks it all off with a thrilling opening lick. The song catches you by surprise when it breaks down and brings in that circus feeling on the verse, along with the mentioned proggy elements such as offbeats. The guitar solo should by no means be missed. The playing is very smooth, and the solo flows very well with the music here, as on every other song of the album. Mr. Landlord carries on in the same manner, with happy vocal melodies and riffs, and a sing-along chorus. The keyboard provides us with comforting sounds accompanied by steady and groovy bass lines.

Thorn by a phrase is along with Manipulator the heaviest tracks on the album. with its mid-paced rhythms and heavy riffing . The vocalist even shows off a more aggressive side mixed with his usual soft ones. The midsection on Thorn by a Phrase is breathtakingly diverse, mixing silent keyboard sections and heavy, complicated guitar riffs. One of the absolute highlights on here.

I never expected what came after the piano-driven ballad Ted’s ballad, and the first instrumental Dance of Mr. Gumble . With Wake Up they went all reggae on me! And guess what... it’s great! Smooth and relaxed, nice keyboard theme, and a fun guitar solo. You never know what to expect from these guys, which makes this such a fun and exciting listen.

The overall musical skill displayed on Last Epic is impressive. On The Effect every member contributes with lead vocals. When I first heard it I couldn’t tell the difference between them, which proves that there’s not only one capable vocalist here. The album closes with Summary, which probably contains the coolest keyboard theme I have heard in a long long time. It’s so simple, but yet so incredibly cool. You don’t need a major in music to understand that sometimes “less is more”. The guitarist toys with his wah-wah, and it’s nice to experience a little different lead sound. The keyboard solo is, as stated by the keyboardist, very inspired by Manfred Mann. And it sounds very good. As I mentioned earlier, expect a more retro sound rather than the Nintendoesque which tends to dominate progressive rock and metal nowadays. This record is easily one of my best catches this year. It has no weak spots, and every track is packed with great riffs, thrilling melodies, nice leadwork and steady vocals. You’ll get nice surprises with the sudden style changes and all the details, which may be small but makes a big difference. If you’re a fan of progressive rock/metal in general, you should order this as soon as possible.
Highly recommended.

Note: You should really check out the band website for samples, as their myspace only contain songs from their new album

Killing Songs :
All of them
Thomas quoted 98 / 100
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