LAST TRIBE – The Uncrowned

LAST TRIBE - The Uncrowned


Frontiers Records
Release date: December 1, 2003

Guitars & Bass: A
Percussion: B
Vocals: C
Lyrics: C-
Recording Quality: A
Originality: C
Overall Rating: B-

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Sweden has produced yet another Metal Music true axe-talent in Last Tribe’s Magnus Karlsson. For those of you who may not be familiar with his abilities/style, Karlsson has identifiable Malmsteen tendencies, but opts a bit more for chord patterns and to play along within the rhythmic structure of each song vs. constantly showcasing his speed and ingenuity…and that’s fine by me! The Uncrowned, Last Tribe’s 3rd release, again showcases Karlsson’s remarkable talent – demonstrating thrice repeat that you owe it to yourself as a Heavy Metal fan to become familiar with this band.

Last Tribe is quick to proclaim their dominance in the “Melodic Metal” musical genre. Let’s think about that for a few minutes…I guess, for starters, I have a bit of an aversion towards the term “Melodic Metal”. Nowadays, there are so many derivative names and classifications for Heavy Metal, it’s sometimes difficult, to be quite honest, to classify and discern what band falls into which category! Anyway, the word “Melodic” coupled with the word “Metal” is almost contradictory. “Melodic” gives rise to images of slow-moving rivers, morning dew in the meadow, and barefoot virgins playing harpsichords in the light autumn breeze. Ahhhhhh, how relaxing! Contrary, “Metal” spawns hard and brash connotations, or music filled with requisite power and aggression. Mixing the two terms is like trying to stir oil and water together – for the love of God, it just ain’t natural! I suppose, though, there are powers greater than me who are entrusted to make the rules…so I guess we’ll just have to live with Last Tribe reigning as the Kings of this oxymoron.

Drilling down a bit into their sound, Last Tribe’s style in The Uncrowned is far from testosterone-challenged, and the production quality offered by Frontiers Records is certainly top notch. The band’s style includes integrated, thunderous drumbeats with a tight snare and sharp cymbals from Jamie Salazar, well-grooved bass guitar work from Dick Lovgren, and nothing short of pure talent emanating from Karlsson’s fret board. The feel, overall, is definitely Metal, but suffers from a layer of the raw edge being shaved away…maybe that raw edge tweaking, coupled with the intermittent keyboard work, is all that is needed to label Last Tribe’s style “Melodic Metal” – but who knows. The music in The Uncrowned contains substantial power, but the power captured within this CD is not disseminated via distortion, rather it’s conveyed via well-produced/delivered bass “punch”. Other than track #6, “April Sky” (a short instrumental song), the other 9 tracks are each in the 5+ minute range. As expected, every song features impressive Karlsson solos, riffs, and power chord patterns, which are a true treat to soak in.

Amid all of these musical and stylistic strengths contained within The Uncrowned, are less than stellar lyrics and vocals. Rickard Bengtsson demonstrates vocal talent, but his voice is too prominent throughout this album, and causes the listener to lose focus on the music. Unlike the musical patterns and flow, both of which are smooth and well tailored, the lyrical patterns in most of the songs come across as uncomfortable and forced. The choruses, though enjoyable in the first couple tracks, become stale as the album progresses because little differentiates each from the prior. Motivationally, the lyrical messages are casual and uninspired.

The Uncrowned starts with the song “Healer”, which hits with brute force and a resonating drum pattern – right in line with Last Tribe’s previous releases: The Ritual and Witch Dance – and serves the album well as its opening track. Next is “The Chosen One”, which picks up the baton and continues to impress with strong double bass drum work. Third is “Sacrifice”, featuring a Malmsteen-ish weeping guitar introduction and an extended guitar solo showing Karlsson’s unique versatility. The title track is next, and gets the band back with the power program. The sound in “The Uncrowned” has a flare of Deep Purple’s “Perfect Stranger”, but oddly includes “computer game” keyboard interludes, which do nothing but get in the way. Hints of repetitiveness start to creep in during the fifth track, “Otherworld”, but thankfully the band reloads during the instrumental “April Sky”, which bridges into “Sound of Rain” – arguably the best song on the album. “Sound of Rain” has a thick, heavy feel to it, and presents the most enjoyable vocal pattern on the CD. The last 3 tracks, “Only the Innocent”, “Full Moon”, and “Call of the Tribe” unfortunately offer nothing unique to the listener, come across as disorganized, and are basically repackaged repetitions of what worked in previous songs.

All in all, The Uncrowned has plenty of solid attributes, most notably an enjoyably well-produced sound. The album isn’t perfect, and will likely be viewed as a step below their first two efforts, but the satisfaction of listening to the youthful guitar talent of Magnus Karlsson alone is worth your trip to the record store.


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

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