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A.C.T - Last Epic CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

4.07 | 270 ratings

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The Ace Face
5 stars This band does some of the most unique music I've ever heard. I read one reviewer above classify it as Cabaret Prog, and while I agree partially, there are elements to it as well. They fuse classical melodies and song structures with Heavy Metal Guitars, demonic instrumental breaks, light, airy choruses, superb technical skills all around, and a strong sense of optimism. This album is one of the best album's I have ever heard and I can listen to it endlessly without getting tired of it. Well, here we go.

Intro-Nice cello work from the quartet that seems to follow these guys around, fading into a synth-freak out and dramatic build up to the opener.

Wailings from a building: The blasting guitars and drums open this song, easily the best on the album. The intro lets on that while the band is melodiously inclined, they will not be just crooning the entire time. The verse here is absolutely spectacular. An odd time signature, light piano chords, and wails of guitar coming in at just the right moments combine with the oddly personal singer's voice. The chorus is a nice, simple melody, and the bridge is spectacular as well. Xylophones and backing vocals remind me of Gentle Giant, and the guitar solo is absolutely amazing. The key change at the end elevates the drama, wrapping up this song nice and neat.

Mr. Landlord: A slightly slower song, but no less powerful. The goofy lyrics tell the people living in the building to put on a good face for the Landlord, and explains all the different powers he has. Lots of good instrumentation, with delightful synth lines always around the corner. The solo is again amazing, seemingly effortlessly going up and down the frets with acrobatic ease. A small cello theme ends the song.

Torn by a Phrase: A much heavier beginning, with heavy riffing guitars underlying the airy, mysterious synth line. The drums are loud and heavy, and the riffing continues to get more intense, and then all of a sudden, the classical guitar takes us to the verse! the change is stunning and perfect. The vocal melody makes me feel nostalgic, and the lead in to the chorus makes your hair stand on end, as does the chorus itself. After 2 verses and choruses, the instrumental break occurs, not so much a guitar solo like the previous two, but instead about 5 different instruments taking random solos, including synth, guitar, violin, xylophone, and another one i cannot identify. It is absolutely amazing, you have to hear it to believe it. The third verse has piano instead of classical guitar, and a different lead in to the chorus. It all ends with another cello theme that will appear later.

Ted's Ballad: A beautiful piano ballad with plenty of strings and harmonious backing vocals, giving the listener a break after the intensity of the last 3 songs. Ending with yet another cello theme, the next is sprung on you like a tiger from a cage...

The Dance of Mr. Gumble: This 2 minute instrumental crams more themes and solos into it than almost the entire album. Ultra fast-paced, this song reminds me a lot of Dream Theater, and their intense instrumental capabilities. This song is the perfect evidence that these guys are not pop-loving saps.

Wake Up: This song opens with a Reggae-like guitar theme, and some acrobatic bass work, which has not been heard yet. Hammond organ backs the verse, giving it a sadder tone. The chorus is silly, but they pull it off so well, it matters not at all. Strings come in at key moments, and they lead us into the guitar solo, which is not so much technical as incredibly unique. It is so perfect, its hard to imagine anything else there. A short bass solo brings us to the third verse, with xylophones jumping in for a piece of the melody. After the last chorus, a short outro gives us the feeling the album is almost over.

Manipulator: NOT EVEN CLOSE. The opening is very symphonic, with plenty of strings, but it soon turns evil with heavy riffing and scary vocals talking about (surprise!) manipulation. There is a reference to Mr. Gumble, making this feel even more like a concept album. The chorus is a typical heavy metal one, yelling about a ruined life, and full of anger. After the second chorus we get treated to some amazing synth work accompanied by very interesting riffing from the lead guitar, and occasional breaks of glorious chorus-soloing, and a string interlude. At one point the piano comes in sounding like Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite, from Sgt. Pepper, and adding a goofy mood to the devoutly serious one. As the singing comes back in, the chorus is first sung softly with strings, then powerfully with the electric power chords ringing behind it. The song ends with a Gentle Giant-esque Vocal section, and leads right into the second instrumental...

A Loaded situation: another Mr. Gumble, but with completely different themes and riffs. It never fails to disappoint when I'm looking for a good song to air guitar/synth/drum to.

The Observer: A bouncy piano/string/guitar opening leads us into a great song. The verse has some odd electric piano, and the singer seems to be trying to comfort someone, but also creeping them out be revealing they take pictures of them through their windows. This song doesn't seem to have a chorus, and the instrumental break isn't terribly complex, but still it is amazing how they write this stuff.

The Cause: A great riff brings us to the synth theme with some silly, thoughtful vocals. The pre-chorus has great instrumentation and backing vocals, as does the chorus itself. The very sad piano theme after the chorus is interrupted by some weird noises and more verse. After the next chorus, the guitar gets more complex, and the sad piano theme gets extended, and it leads right into the next song.

The Effect: A VERY odd yet awesome synth thing introduces us, as the strings take the background and a different singer takes the lead. The piano and main singer come in for the prechorus and the chorus, talking about a building. The string theme at the end of the chorus is straight from the intro and kills me. The next verse is even better, with harpsichord, funky bass and bursts of the choir in the background. it makes me laugh sometimes when I hear they did not care at all CARE AT ALL. After the second chorus we go through 2 or 3 key changes, followed by a stellar guitar solo with some cool drumming, and the third chorus is sung by the female guest vocalist who is the main singer on the next song.

Summary: some eerie synths fade in and the guitar evilly riffs downward, but then the verse starts and its a bouncy beat. The best part about this song is on every successive verse and chorus, more background vocals get added at different, key moments. The chorus changes from 6/8 to 4/4 and the female singer is back again. After the second chorus, the guitar takes an epic tone, and then breaks off into another incredibly unique solo, followed by a faster-paced synth solo. After this is the third and final verse and chorus, with full background vocals added in everywhere. After the final chorus, the piano seems to close the album, but...

Outro: Easily the best ending to an album ever. The string theme from the beginning is back again, the drums are nice and epic to accompany it. The lyrics are simple but powerful: Now you've heard, the tale's been told. It's up to you, if it is true. The ending note reflects these lyrics by ending kind of in a question mark, and this masterful tale is over. I wish this song was a little longer, because it fills my heart with gladness.

Overall, an amazing pseudo concept album, with the string medley bonus track to add to the fun. These Svedes from Sveden truely knew what they were doing when they made this, and it is an absolute delight to listen to every time.

The Ace Face | 5/5 |


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