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Some albums really have the ability to transport you to another world. I tell you, still now when I hear Blind Guardian's "Somewhere Far Beyond", I can hear the madrigals singing and feel the leaves of the enchanted forest beneath my feet. When I hear Ayreon's "Universal Migrator Pt.1: The Dream Sequencer", I can smell the cosmos like it's seeping through my windows. Unfortunately, all I can smell during these US epic metallers' debut is their innate credibility coming out of my backside. Chopping the same magic-trees as Sacred Steel and Battleroar, Last Empire's musical mien is brash, aggressive and tougher than the blades they pretend to wield. There are some interesting parts to absorb; their particularly evil sounding power metal has more than an air of "Burnt Offerings"–era Iced Earth in the guitar work, and with quite an underpinning of the neo-classical scale runs Blind Guardian proliferated in their early career, there is certainly no ignorance of technical ability on display. But the songs just aren't captivating enough. There are no real warrior chants or even guitars-in-the-air-mirror-pose moments; it's pretty turgid stuff, unless of course you can't wait any longer for Gerrit P Mutz and co. to storm your shores with fists full of girders, raping the town with blazing battle metal anthems and mead-drinking until they fill their pantaloons.
Systematic of this label, the production is pretty dry – unless you crank your stereo up to 10, which this music certainly deserves. It is at least rewarding to be blasted at for 50 minutes with very little simulated symphonics, only piercing high vocals, grating guitars, galloping drums and rather humorous fantasy lyrics. Still, with titles like "Gods of Fire and Steel" and "Wings of Dragons" what exactly would you expect? Uber-intelligent prog/jazz-fusion?
Originally written for www.metalcrypt.com