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Last Crack - Burning Time CD (album) cover

BURNING TIME

Last Crack

 

Progressive Metal

4.18 | 8 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Aldebaran_Well
4 stars A strange and unique band for strange and unique listeners.

Rock music in the dawn of 90's was starting to sound weary and uninspiring so we have to thank grunge for bringing fresh air to rock and for making it sound a bit dangerous again. On the other hand, grunge is to blame for the sudden disappearance of many outstanding bands (especially in the U.S) due to lack of interest. Last Crack is among the top bands on this list of fallen heroes.

Hailing from Madison, Wisconsin, Last Crack released 3 albums with ''Burning Time'' to be considered by most as the best moment of their short discography. Released by Roadracer records and produced by Dave Jerden, the album got great reviews, as I remember, but obviously that was not enough. The band retained a cult status. Last Crack's personnel (all excellent musicians) at that time was: Phil Buerstatte (drums), Todd Winger (bass), Don Bakken and Paul Schluter (guitars), all gathered round the heart and core of the fellowship, the iconic, magnificent and enigmatic singer Buddo.

The band was always categorized as progressive metal, only because there was no other term to describe them better. So, don't expect the stereotypes of this genre, there are no extreme technicalities, complex compositions, virtuosities, etc. Last Crack delivered a hybrid sound that was quite rare back then, revealing influences from traditional metal, mainstream rock, alternative, funk and psych. Of course, a prog fan will find enjoyment in the sophisticated nature of melodies and grooves (a distant relation to Queensryche, maybe) but this is progressive music mostly in aura and mentality. To be honest, many times I think that actually this is what prog is about.

The key word is Freedom. This was a band that was feeling free to compose, and to express its existence by its own will, uncompromised and independent music. This almost spontaneous manner is mostly apparent in Buddo's performances (truly one of a kind in metal history). Besides some metal clichés, in his outstanding voice you'll find irony, madness, humor, weirdness, hippie vibes and experimentation. There are some similarities with Armored Saint's John Bush (probably a friend of the band as he's included in the special thanks section), of course in a much more creative version. A special reference must go to the guitar work of the album. Beneath the, unfortunately poor, late 80's production sound, you will discover very exciting, even innovating guitar melodies, riffs and solos. In addition to the above, there are lyrical themes of God, love and philosophy and a very strong presence of symbolisms and mysticism in the album's photos and artwork and there it is: as said in the first line, a strange and unique artistic puzzle Last Crack style!

Music changes constantly from normal to not-so-normal throughout the album. Though a prog breeze blows between the notes of the opening ''Wicked sandbox'', the song remains a metal anthem of extreme quality. ''Mini Toboggan'' and ''Energy mind'' on the other hand are two wonderful tracks that unveil the prog face of Last Crack , where more complicated time signatures and harmonies are presented. The album's title track carries a scent of mystique, while musically sounding like a twisted version of U2. ''Precious human stress'' is like entering the realm of paranoia, a weird and intense track that resembles Faith No More. ''Love, Craig'' is slow tempo but groovy, with a touch of psychedelia and a very interesting guitar part in Phrygian mode, while ''Kiss A the cold'' is another odd song, featuring a bad mouthed, Tarantino-like intro. ''Love or surrender'' shows how daring Last Crack truly was: Consisted only of vocal tracks, layers upon layers, Buddo builds a short melodic, yet dynamic theme. Genius. ''Mack Bolasses'', the only track that is longer than 6 minutes, has to be considered as one of the album's finest moments, an atmospheric and quite dramatic prog piece. Then, weirdness again. ''Blue fly, fish sky'' and ''Papa Mugaya'' are two songs that could have been composed by some hippie, alternative band (and I don't mean it negatively). Not my cup of tea but good examples of the band's variety of songwriting ideas and of the artistic freedom mentioned earlier. In ''Down beat dirt messiah'' things get heavier again, a groovy, kind of Alice In Chains and, mildly, dark song. Finally, the curtain falls with ''Oooh'', a two minutes outro featuring only piano and vocals (a very sentimental performance) and only two repeating lyrics: ''Love is the only thing that can never die, Oooh, and you are mine''. Now, tell me, what do you make out of all these? I say, really good prog music that is deep, hard to tame and impossible to imitate.

I often try to imagine how Last Crack would sound like if they hadn't been dissolved. I find this question intriguing and I have no clue, they could end up playing whatever actually. Unfortunately, these talents got lost because of the tides of chance and fashion. However, Last Crack left their footprint on progressive metal and I think that along with Mind Over Four, they are the best less known bands of their genre/era. ''Burning Time'' is a hidden treasure waiting to be found. It may not change your life but it sure can make you happy with its discovery and your record collection richer. Highly recommended to all progressive metal fans that still search for this music's unexplored potential.

88/100. 4 burning stars.

Aldebaran_Well | 4/5 |

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