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



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5 stars This is another superb collection of songs, with a production even better than their previous efforts. They can make really good music, well arranged & produced, and with lots of fun! This is something hard to achive in this genre of music.
Report this review (#17095)
Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I Know that one is supposed to be very carefully when giving top-grades to an album, which I am myself very aware of in my job as a music critic. However, nothing is good enough for this baby. Since it's release early 2003 it's been on of my absolute favorite records of all time. Allright, it took a while to get into but nontheless it really paid of.

Imagine a mixture of E.L.O., Dream Theater and Abba. Sounds weird? Well, A.C.T. is not your average prog. rock/metal band! The songs are dripping full of emotion and musicianship is just out of this world and the huge vocal harmonies (beside Herman on lead vocals almost all of the other band members are very capable singers too!) are really extraordinary. What makes this band so special is their (on this album primarily keyboarder/vocalist Jerry Sahlin's) songwriting skills and sense of timeless melodies. This album is essential even for non-metal and non-prog. fans.

Report this review (#17096)
Posted Friday, May 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Yes, when i mark 5 stars, i saw a warning. And I Thought to my self - is this album is a masterpiece of progressive rock. Yes, it is!!! A.C.T. is one of the most interesting band i've heard from meny times. Every new albul is better then previous. There is something very sad in the voice of Jerry Sahlin, smthing very melancholic. If you ask me wich band reminds me A.C.T. i would say - QUEEN, but i don't know why. Just listen this album!!!
Report this review (#17097)
Posted Friday, October 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Actually I give it 3 and a half star. "Last Epic" is really an improvement compared with "Imaginary Friends". The group does not overdo the stuff as they do on "IF" and it is more balanced and the songs are better. The vocalist is OK, but this kind of dynamic prog music needs a top singer. If the band improve it like this for each record, even I give 5 stars at the end. Still they need to improve their song writing, because the songs are to weak for a top grade.
Report this review (#17098)
Posted Sunday, November 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Another great masterpiece from A.C.T! I´m proud to be a swede, when these fellas are releasing their work! Jerry is sure one of the best swedish songwriters in history! To add some extra proggyness, Thomas at last found his double pedals! Their music with that orchestral inlays makes the music something extraordenary. This album I would say is a little heavier then the beforecoming albums, but that is not in any way ment as something bad. There are some nice ballads, and some heavy tones, and also some really cool lyrics on top of it all (Mr. Landlord!) Definatly worth every single penny spent on it! Not buying it is a huge misstake!
Report this review (#17099)
Posted Wednesday, December 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars These guys are really amazing. I truly was very happy to listen to this album. They can manage theirselves to play ballads without being corny, reggae without being predictable and boring, always in a very progressive way. If you want some fresh air in your collection, this is the album you're looking for: well played, well singed and woth powerful songs full of things to get you entertained.
Report this review (#17100)
Posted Friday, February 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars WOOOOOW!

What can I say about this!? I wonder what kind of drugs Mr.jerry Sahlin is using?! He is the best composer of all time to my ears! He´s songwriting goes in the same leage as Freddy mercury, Brian Wilson and Jeff Lynne himself! (for him being a big fan of..) I have finally found THE GREAT band to enjoy listen to over and over again..


Report this review (#17101)
Posted Tuesday, March 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Cabaret Symphonic Prog Rock - a true masterpiece album!

Who say prog music must be dark? Well, some people do. The darker the music, it's much more prog - so they say. But A.C.T. has proved the other spectrum in which their music - most of them are upbeat and in a fast tempo - gives a humorous nuance even without having to know the lyrics. Funny, but it's very enjoyable and I started to love the band. When I look deeper in greater details on their music, it's composed neatly with an excellent melody and top notch arrangements. On the basis of tight and neat composition, the musicians deliver their contribution flawlessly. This is my only CD of the band. Previously I made a review of their debut album Today's Report on a loan basis from my prog mate's CD collection. I loved the music that's why I purchased this album from local music store where I was very fortunate that it was available down here in Jakarta for USD 19.10. Is it expensive? I don't know. It's worth the investment because I got great music! Well, Jakarta is not bad for CD availability hah? I think so. At least there are many prog stuffs down here and of course . many prog lovers. Unfortunately, very few prog bands that DARE to come here. They are so concerned about ridiculous Travel Warning issued by their Government. Come on proggers .. Don't let your fear overwhelm you, show your progness by coming to my country .!!! (BTW, every month there always be one BOYS BAND coming here. Last week there were 300 jazz artists came here to do CHARITY concert. Where are you proGGers?????). I invite proggers all over the world to do a serious meeting deciding to do a concert here. We have a great promoter down here. Don't worry .. OK? Email me now!

Back to Last Epic of A.C.T. , the following is my view. I am doing this with a labor of love because the music is damn GREAAAAAATTTTTT ..!!! (sorry, I'm not exaggerating. I urge you not to read this long and boring review, just GET THE CD MAN! You won't regret! Satisfaction guaranteed.).

Intro as the name implies, it sets the opening theme for the album. It comprises a real orchestra arrangement in an overture style. Nice.

Wailings from a Building blasts the music off with a fast tempo intro using keyboard solo as the lead, accompanied with a guitar rhythm, bass and drums performed in fast speed but it does not like a typical power metal rhythm. It's really cool intro, I would say. The music suddenly turns into quieter passage when the vocal starts to join the music. "No, it cannot be the morning light.". What's so unique is the music riffs that accompany the first singing part - it's a very neatly arranged violin / cello combined with keyboard. It reminds me to prog metal music but it's not that heavy. Oh man . it's a wonderful arrangement. For me personally, I never found this kind of music before. It sounds funny but amazing!!! The vocal is so powerful. During the interlude part, guitar does a stunning solo with no distortion at all. Well, everything in this track has been neatly arranged! Am speechless man ..

Mr. Landlord starts off with a humorous style lyrical part "You better honour him, don't jeopardize your stay. Put on that perfect smile and start sucking up! Hey! Mr. Lanlord , nice to see you again ." in relatively medium-fast tempo. WHOAAAA . man . what a great opening part. The song flows dynamically with great variations of high and low points singing style by the lead vocalist. Violin / cello plays beautifully during musical transitions. Guitar solo plays shortly with great melodies. It sounds like a cabaret symphonic prog rock music, I would say. Is there any kind of that sub-genre? I don't know ..

Torn by a Phrase - oh my GOD! This track is really killing me now. The intro is so catchy. It starts off with soft and inventive guitar riffs (oops!! Do not imagine that this is something like a prog met riffs man, it's so cool and soft). The keyboard sound enriches nicely with a beautiful repeated chords. When vocal starts entering the music, acoustic guitar and violin / cello plays beautiful music at the background. During the singing part, the music plays beautiful chords in a riffs mode. There is also a beautiful transition with classical touch and improvisations by multi instrument. Well, ACT music is so unique and I would say that it's very hard to classify their music. It's an ACT music. Probably it's not a derivative one.

Ted's Ballad begins with a violin / cello sound that brings the vocal to start mellow, in a very melodic way, accompanied with beautiful piano sound in classical vein. I thought that this is gonna be a sad song - nuance wise - but when it reaches the chorus, it does not sound that way. The interlude part explores a light orchestra arrangements dominated by cello and electric piano. Oh, what a great arrangement!

Dance of Mr. Gumble brings the music in a very fast tempo again with excellent keyboard and guitar works, composed neatly, performed flawlessly. The keyboard sound provides a symphonic nuance but with sort of soft musical riffs. The guitar solo is stunning, even though it's not a long one. It's an excellent instrumental piece.

Wake Up show-casts how the band plays the game again through providing a music that makes you laugh. Yeah . it starts simply with a reggae style man. But it's not truly reggae as the band has included orchestral arrangements as well. The interlude features guitar solo with a different rhythm section that sometimes gives me surprise such as sudden change to a quiet passage with short bass guitar solo.

Manipulator is probably the most symphonic as far as opening part. What a surprises me is then a guitar riffs followed with a powerful vocal tone. This track has a variety of melodies whereby sometime the music turns mellow with melodic vocal line backed with violin, and sometimes having heavy riffs. It's so dynamic as far as composition. I cannot picture precisely on how great the composition of this song. Top notch and very original! I cannot identify any influence by other band.

A Loaded Situation explores dynamic keyboard solo in fast speed with technical capability at its best. The music suddenly change to another form with great combination of guitar, bass, drum and keyboard. Another great instrumental piece in a very discrete structure but it produces an awesome music. I love it man ..

The Observer opens with a short choir recorded in a sound effects mode. The music flows in an upbeat tempo with an uplifting mood. Vocal plays important role where the vocalist sings in his full swing that able to bring the music dynamically. It has powerful keyboard solo and great symphony at the back.

The Cause is a fast tempo music with a combination of distanced singing style. The mood is still uplifting especially during chorus with backing vocals. This is probably the simplest form of ACT music as the composition is less complex than the others.

The Effect has different singing style; it's performed in low register notes accompanied by a nice cello works augmented with piano. The chorus brings the vocal line into a higher register notes. Light orchestra is inserted in between segments. The nice thing is that in some segments the lyrical part has a very catchy melody.

Summary is a very powerful song with great composition whereby it contains fast tempo music and melodic singing during mellow passage with excellent violin / cello. It sounds like ACT music has a very dynamic styles whereby tempo changes happen frequently and in an unpredictable way. For example is the inclusion of wonderful keyboard solo in the middle of the track that happens suddenly beyond my anticipation. Well, it's hard to say it but it's better if you buy the CD and find your own words to best describe this song's composition. Wonderfully crafted man!

Outro comprises melodic light orchestra with a short lyrics "Now you've heard a tale been told. It's up to you, could this be true".

One thing for sure that it's true: this is a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED album. Full five stars rating (because I cannot go higher than five!). The production and sonic quality are great. It's truly a masterpiece. Keep on proGGin' ..!!!

Yours progressively,


N.B. *** Hey, don't you realize? Sweden has produced so many talented musicians in progressive arena. I think Sweden has become the land of progressive music in this millenium. It's no longer England, I think. Or, simply put: It was invented in England, but it has grown significantly in Sweden. Probably Sweden is the highest in number of progheads per capita in the world. What do you think? ***

Report this review (#17102)
Posted Monday, March 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'll begin this review like most others reviewers did: WOW! If I don't rate this album as a masterpiece, I wont rate any album as a masterpiece. LAST EPIC is the best album I have heard from a long time ago. All is simply wonderful here. ALL! This is a pure orgasm for my brain. The magic singing of mr. Herman Shaming, The mini-orchersta who plays with the band all along, The strange rythmic typic from ACT, ALL, ALL! here is a success. All The songs have their own charm and are discover with enchantement by the listener. Every seconds of this album are memorable moments. I dont want to describe more these songs. Buy LAST EPIC. NOW!

And have a good listening.

Plus: Here a last advantage of last epic illustrate in some key words.

Mood Before a listening : down (after a long days of work.) Mood After a listening: up UP UPPP AND UPPP

Last Epic is also a remedy to depression. It is good for your health.

Report this review (#17103)
Posted Thursday, April 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Five stars, plain and simple! I had heard a couple of songs from "Today's Report", and although I was intrigued, It didn't push me to buy the album. However, I recently hear "Torn By A Phrase", and I was blown away. After letting this CD sink in for a few days, I have to say, this is a real essential for lovers of MELODIC progressive rock. The songs are ALL excellent, the musicianship is excellent, and the production and arrangements make it all come together! Being a concept album, I wish I could figure out exactly what they are talking doesn't really matter, because the songs are so good, they could be talking about buildings for all I care! Oh wait..........they ARE!


Report this review (#17104)
Posted Monday, April 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars great cheerfull tunes, good for your mood, absolute fun to listen too. Sometimes reminiscent of Queen, Supertramp and other masters of simple fun music, with perfect musicianship to make it believable. Somehow it reminds me what Valencia could have been. (Valencia being a dutch performer with the brilliant album Gaia).

I could go through the numbers to show where they are a bunch of brilliant musicians, but just listen to it yourseles. Thorn By A Phrase, Manipulator and other songs are what makes music like this great fun.

5 stars might be too much, but a definitive four stars, with an option on more is rightfully theirs. Great fun, and brilliant musicianship can go hand in hand.

Report this review (#36016)
Posted Friday, June 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the best CD I ever heard.I`m listening this album over 2 years and every spin is just a pleasure for me.Great!I love vocal melodies,keys & guitars work,tempo changes...everything!It`s hard to make music better than this!
Report this review (#37764)
Posted Monday, June 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Prog Metal - let's hope it's the first epic...

Here is a prog metal album that is fully worthy of the term - even if it does fall a little shy of bands such as Dream Theater in the virtuosic stakes, it more than makes up for it in terms of energy and musical ccraftsmanship.

A.C.T. out-dream the theatrical ones on many levels - not only do they understand the importance of a dramatic structure, but they understand that less really can be more in places and that light and shade are not only opposites but a broad spectrum to be used as a painter mixes oils on the canvas. They also know how to write original and damned good riffs, IMHO :o)

The Masterpiece star is lost partly because I would imagine this might have a slightly narrow appeal - fans of the seriously heavy stuff may not like it, those obsessed with complexities will not appreciate it, and those not into metal may not take to it. There are also weak points which I will describe later. However, there is a very broad appeal which makes this album well worth investigating.

Overall, there is a pronounced Broadway Musical/Circus feel to the album, and a more than reasonable variety of musical textures that are well executed on the whole, although maybe the forays into cringeworthy rock quasi-reggae territory in "Wake Up" or "The Effect" could have been ommited... This is not to say that either is a bad track - it's worth hanging in there for the guitar solo section around 2:35 in "Wake Up", which is engaging and nicely proggy in feel without being dramatically groundbreaking.

Keeping focussed on the textures, the keyboard sounds are very well chosen to accentuate the moods of the various pieces, and where cheesey sounds do drift in, one at least feels that this was intentional. Mostly the soundscape is of a highly crafted quality, often evoking Queen, ELO, Supertramp, Foreigner, Saga and Dream Theater amongst others.

But this is not some pale imitation - A.C.T. have a wide pallete of their own mixing to draw upon, and create timbral lights and shades with ease - with a slight tendency towards the light. The constant circus references in the music I think are intended to be macabre, but are possibly slightly overdone as this does not fully work for me.

Harmonically there's nothing drastically exploratory, but there are some really nice "tangs" with harmonic shift motifs that quickly become an A.C.T. trademark. These are not simple shifts to extremes, but carefully considered phrases and progressions that add real drive and freshness to the music and help to blur or accentuate harmonic bases as needed.

Melodically A.C.T. are hard to fault - there's nothing far out, but if you like your melodies to worm their way into your skull and lodge there for a week or two, then this album will occupy you for a good few months.

One other melodic area of note is in the virtuosic interjections in riffs, between phrases and liberally used as seasoning throughout this album. None feel out of place or like scale practice - all are sensitive to the music and elaborate existing thematic material in order to draw attention to the piece as a whole, rather than to the virtuoso. This is a brilliant technique that many could learn from.

Rhythmically, it's got just about everything you could want, using complexities in rhythm rather than being driven by complexity, subtle and percussive interjections and real variety through development - as opposed to the mush of bewildering changes one often hears, which is often merely a kind of bluff to hide lack of musical imagination.

The common weakness in "prog metal" is form. As a generalisation, A.C.T. aren't really any different in this - but use their techniques well to blur and hide standard formal approaches, a tradition that goes back to the prog greats and shouldn't be underestimated. This lends an organic feel to the pieces which is rare in prog metal. What is missing, as ever, is the spontaneous feel to the piece that shows that the music arose from jam sessions or interplay between the musicians. It is clear that most pieces have been crafted from the riffs up - but such is metal, I suppose!

So, in summary, a wide variety of prog ingredients are in place and mixed together well. The root is quite obviously metal, but never extreme or overly intense - yet managing to maintain a huge and "symphonic" approach where needed. Stand out tracks are "Torn By A Phrase Garden" (with a main riff that sounds suspiciously like "Cherry Red" by the Groundhogs) and "Manipulator", in an album where you could literally dip in anywhere and pull out something excellent... but not quite awesome.

I do feel a little cruel about this.

But I just can't bring myself to awarding the coveted "Masterpiece" status to this exceptionally fine prog metal album, even though it probably deserves it.

So imagine, if you will, an additional half star, for an album that is not only an Excellent addition to ANY prog music collection, a masterpiece of it's own genre or subgenre and probably other subgenres too... but for all that, an album doesn't get me singing along, jumping out of my chair, punching my fist to the skies or air-guitaring like a lunatic for whatever personal reasons I have and do not see fit to reveal.

Strange, considering that it really is very good indeed. Buy it and make your own mind up - it's certainly money well spent. The mp3 that's available here is a good representation of the overall quality of this album - so try before you buy!

Report this review (#39403)
Posted Thursday, July 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Is there such a thing as bubble-gum prog or progressive pop? I'm not sure, but if there is, this record is it. After my first listen I thought; this is interesting but I'm not too sure about whether I like it or not. Over the last month I've listened again and again. Now, I can't get the music out of my head. I find myself humming the melodies non stop. The collection of tunes is just irresistable. As others have said, the music is all extremely upbeat and happy. No doom and gloom here. This shouldn't imply a lack of excellent musicianship. It truly is top notch. After a tough day at the office I love to throw on A.C.T. during my drive home, and by the time I arrive home I'm happy. You will be too.
Report this review (#49991)
Posted Tuesday, October 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well this is certainly a enjoyable new album from swedish pop-prog rockers A.C.T. It is generally hard to really classify their music as it mixes elements of pop with some elements of power metal and some progressive elements, but this combination is surely very sucsessfull and i have hardly heard it better...

First of all this is not very progressive in the terms that you need many listens to really get into this album, the melodies are really poppy and you get into them in no time, but also the songs manages to maintain a certain degree of complexity and originality and thus not making it sound over-poppy either. Well then, this album is meant to maintain a concept throughout the whole album and although it is not one of the more complex ones it really sets the mood with the symphonic intro...Actually the pause between the symphonic intro and the next song is really great and it slides from symphonic to classic power metal and then suddenly into a more poppy sequence and this movement is really great and original and serves to make this band sound much more destinct and they use these combinations often through the album (Symphonic, pop and power metal) I can't think of any other bands that uses this combination so effectively and they are pretty unique but if you wonder what they sound like think ABBA mixed with Queen mixed with a bit of Pain of might sound like a very strange combination it works wonderfully and they stand as one of the most succesfull combinations of pop and prog that i have ever heard...Truly recommended! and 4.5 stars really!

Standout tracks: Torn by a phrase,Manipulator and the effect.

Similar stuff: Well not much that sounds like this but Porcupine tree-In absenthia also manages to incorporate metal and pop with prog quite nicely. Also you could try out Queen- A night at the opera and some light power metal bands like sonata artica...but really there is nothing that is truly like this and i recommend this album above all others!

Report this review (#55573)
Posted Wednesday, November 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's a crazy world we live in.

With such an amount of musical diversity, this album is pretty crazy, topsy-turvy material. Not that it's psychedelic or especially innovative...but oh so original! It pops musically and right out of your stereo.

The true strenght of A.C.T. is their clerverness to match light hearted songs with total Dream Theater complexity in the same track without sounding superimposed. The tracks are smoothly going without fake time changes; the guitar played is especially skilled in this record, he's firing rounds at top speed many times. The keyboard is tasty and modern, lots of textures reminds me of nightclubbing boom-boom dancefloor music.

You can spot lots and lots of influences, but at the same time, you are so amazed to hear 'Dream Theater/ Queen/ Supertramp/ Backstreet Boys' that actually don't sound corny, it's freaking awesome! Oh yeah, I haven't felt that excited about a record in a long time!

This album is definitely my big surprise of the year (even if it's from 2003). I know I'm a few years behind, but it's better late than never!

Good, good, good.

Report this review (#98369)
Posted Saturday, November 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars It was by chance that I came across this group, and boy am I glad I did. This album quickly made it's way into my all-time favorites. What we have here is a very inventive group melding prog-metal with some cabaret sylings and occasional Queen-esque vocal parts and straight up rock. The first two albums had a similar approach, but they really proved themselves to be a brilliant and powerful force with Last Epic, which is a concept album with a very dark plot, yet immensely fun music - music-lyrics irony that reminds me of The Smiths and earlier music by The Cure. Most listeners will fail to notice the wretched tale behind all of the catchy hooks, funny surprises and fantastic solos. That's where the albums real treasures lay anyhow (not that the story itself is bad). The music is a whole lot of fun, and it is very meticulously structured to fit the concept and is performed flawlessly. Every track is entirely memorable and manages to be fun and [emotionally] powerful at the same time. Admittedly, Herman Saming's vocals may take some getting used to, but they are very fitting and well-used throughout. There are so many parts to get your toes tapping, parts that you will laugh at, parts that you will shake your head in shock and amusement, and parts that will really wrench your heart. A flawless masterpiece. I cannot express this album in words; you will just have to grab it and find out for yourself.
Report this review (#104634)
Posted Wednesday, December 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Happy happy joy joy!!

I'm so happy to know this band , i've heard some of their other albums but nothing really grabed me. this one stole my heart , this is what i call good music. the music have a bright , happy feel to it , i believe that one of the things that makes it sound like that are the vocals, it has a high pitch and feel like it's being done by a character from a cartoon , don't get me wrong it's never silly. i recently noticed by chance that 3 of the members are credited for lead vocals?! i always thought they were done by the same dude! they sound so similar. another thing is that the music is never dark it's most of the time fast and very intricate.

So what's the music like?

always maintaining a high intricate interplay between all . a lot of orchestrated pats that gives it a symphonic touch , it's groovy , great melodies , songs are truly fantastic, ant totally rocking , i wouldn't call it metalic like others stated , the guitars are not that heavy and the playing is not a riffing attack but more of guitar lines, fast complex ones ( not like petrucci ) with good taste! they have a good sense of writing songs it's done right , and very mature. one problem i had with this at start was the keyboard sound , a little bit cheesy , no warm 70's like sound in sight! , but it's all ok now once the music grew on me.

Highlights are the opener 'waillings from a building' it's a great example of their complex rhythm fused with good melody, amazing. 'ted's ballad' is just my favourite one , it shows this band really has it ,beautiful melody , violins added and although it's a ballad it is still intricate with that great bass , backing vocals are outstanding. 'wake up' is another killer track with some more complex groovy rhythm , and a good guitar solo. songs are mainly short , the music is not about jaming or one's ability to solo , it's about making good tight very effective songs. if you like that you can't do better than this!

Althought it sounds poppy at times this is still high qualiity music and very enjoyable. a very good example of crossover eclectic prog , not a masterpiece but deffinitely recommended!!

Report this review (#120099)
Posted Sunday, April 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars

This one is even better than the previous two. The sound is more metallic and progressive in the same time but also with pop rock structure on some songs (like The Cause/The Effect for example). They won't let you for too long in a certain mood and they will change very often the style. Sometime they have a pop-rock sound and after they switch to a more progressive approach or even theatrical or reggae.

Production was really improved and this really made the difference. This time we really have complex songs and a good and structured approach when talking about composition. And more, their sound is really good if I compare it with other new progressive bands I know because these guys made an effort not to be a DT clone (even if this influence is there on some songs e.g. Dance Of Mr. Gumble). Beside this, they are of course influenced by a lot of bands from progressive rock area and not only but it is always a matter of how to stand in front of a heritage you have. Either you go on the same direction or you try to change something and improve the heritage you are sitting upon. For me A.C.T. decided to go with this release in a good direction.

The guy behind the keyboard (Jerry Sahlin) is really impressive and surprising. He really has some goods and memorable moments (like on Torn By A Phrase second part or A Loaded Situation). But also the other guys did a good job and the effort behind every instrument is evident.

I would like to give 4 stars and hope and wait for the same good stuff like this one in the future from them.

Report this review (#124312)
Posted Friday, June 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars With eclectic prog you never now how it turns out. So, buying the CD after having listened to one of their mp3's on the web, was a gamble. This is one of the best albums I bought this year. ACT have created their on style. Sometimes eclectic means noise that needs to sink in, with ACT it means beautifull compositions. You can easily put them under crossover or symphonic. A strong recomendation to everyone. 4 1/2 stars.
Report this review (#149536)
Posted Thursday, November 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#160188)
Posted Tuesday, January 29, 2008 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars WYHIWYG

Swedish band A.C.T. (the band refuse to reveal what the letters stand for) released this their third album in 2003. For the first time (for them), they created a full blown concept album, the over-riding theme being the story of a building and its occupants.

Taking their influences from the lighter, more pop orientated end of the prog spectrum, A.C.T. cite band such as Muse, Saga and Electric Light Orchestra among those who have inspired them. Indeed, those familiar with ELO's Time album can consider that release a reasonable indication of what to expect here. Both albums consist of high quality pop songs, which blend together to form something slightly more progressive when seen as a whole.

After a brief strings section Intro, we are immediately into Wailings from a building, a sort of ELO meets Styx song, the melody being the ELO part and the vocal style that of Styx. And so the pattern is set for the album. We have a succession of highly melodic, instantly accessible pop prog songs. There are further suggestions of 10CC without going over the top on the cleverness, of Queen in the killer hooks, and even of the pop side of Genesis. There is nothing particularly challenging here, it is very much a case of what you hear (first time) is what you get.

There is a satisfactory diversity to the musical styles adopted, ranging (on consecutive tracks as it happens) from pleasant pop ballad (Ted's ballad), through heavier guitar instrumental (Dance of Mr. Grumble) to the 10CC calypso style (Wake up). The most prog orientated track is the 6 minute Manipulator which segues into the surprisingly Dream Theater like instrumental A loaded situation.

In summary, an enjoyable if somewhat lightweight album. The band are clearly highly capable in terms of both composition and execution. It would be interesting to hear the results were they to really challenge themselves.

Report this review (#172133)
Posted Sunday, May 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album is a nice concept album that I got bored of after 3 listens. The songs were catchy and the musicians all played their instruments well but in the end it this album lacks the originality in their songwriting to seal the deal and keep me coming back for more. I never got to the actual concept of the album because I was bored of the music by the time it was time to read the lyrics. Maybe my next A.C.T listen will be a little more rewarding.
Report this review (#179916)
Posted Monday, August 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars Last Epic's ho-hum first impression as a pop album is stripped away with each successive listen, revealing a quirky, buoyant, and intricate concept album with memorable melodies and a depth uncommon to its approachable sound.

The first and most prevalent key to this success is the snappy songwriting, which takes the listener on an enjoyable journey through big, made-for-FM hooks, ballads, and intense instrumental passages. The sample song here on PA is a good example of what one can expect. The variety alone is a big selling point, but the fact that the band itself is quite excellent makes everything that much better. Each member of the band cooks, with Andersson's guitar standing out with rhythmically dexterous leads, heavy and at times a little bit metal, but never overbearing; solos are smart and frequent, and his playing never tries to steal the show. I was also impressed by the rhythm section, which is exceptionally intricate and precise. Combine this with heavy use of varied synthesizer for textures and melodies and we've got a complex web of sounds hidden beneath an outwardly popish veneer.

Vocals deserve special mention as well, since a big part of ACT's sound is the exuberant voice of Saming. The biggest part of Last Epic's outwardly pop sound is due to his singing, which is very catchy and genuinely fun to listen to. He sings a lot, so be prepared. Fortunately he's quite good, and belts out the leads throughout, with some eccentric vocalizations adding much to the variety.

A worthy listen, unique for its intense pop sound and tight, intricate playing which rewards many plays and road trip sing-alongs.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Report this review (#209569)
Posted Wednesday, April 1, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is music I like very much. It makes me happy. Groups that come in mind when I hear them are Saga, Ambrosia, Aviary, City Boy, Queen. Nice hooks, twisting points from orchestrated to guitar driven. It changes a lot during the songs. When the orchestra comes in they sound like City Boy (recommended group also). The singer has a high voice, like Aviary and Ambrosia. The refrains also are catchy. I like to sing along with them. A thing I mostly don't do with prog. I am mostly more a fan of the long instrumental seventies like epic neo or symphonic prog songs. That's how they attracted my attention (the name "last epic") Great composition skills from these guys. Again another pearl from Sweden.
Report this review (#214078)
Posted Wednesday, May 6, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars This band has toured all the Scandinavian music festivals during the last five years and have established themselves as the undisputed biggest Scandinavian prog-related live act. Their live shows always get raving reviews. So I wanted to check them/the hype out and bought this album.

This is a concept album about all the events inside a building. Music wise, it comes across as a blend of SAGA, FLOWER KINGS, DREAM THEATER and most neo-prog bands on this planet. Unfortunate, the music is very much down the pop/rock alley at times. Commercial and live-friendly. Yes, I can understand why they are on every music festival in Scandinavia. If I, God forbid, wanted to do a music festival in Scotland, A.C.T would most definate receive a call from me. They alone would probably save my bacon/the festival from it's failure.

On a CD in a sunlight room with midges flying around, the situation is slightly different. The cheesyness of A.C.T does not comes across as humour in that situation. I sometimes wonder if they are pretentious or just self-depreciating. Hopefully the latter one, because A.C.T is very much in the QUEEN area here. Over the top and getting on my nerves. The Landlord song is very good. Other songs sounds like an Europop parody. Or is it Europop ? Europop combined with DREAM THEATER like guitar-solos and annoying vocals. Say cheeeeeeeesssseeee.......

But too much cheese is not good for me. Most of the songs here are also anonyme and very forgetable. This is nothing for me. But I would like to see them live.

2 stars

Report this review (#218776)
Posted Friday, May 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars A masterful piece of progressive cabaret. The reference work for eclectic, humoristic progrock.

This 2001 output from this anomalously positive and finely eclectic swedish band is probably the pinnacle of their creations so far, and one of the most enjoyable progressive albums of recent years. The band is not afraid of showing its musical proficiency throughout this dense work, but what is most interesting is that they hide such solid technical background under narrative and expressive purposes. The perfectly balanced sound production supports all instruments and tracks with crystalline cleanliness, which allows the listener to deepen into the layered textures of the album with ease and pleasure. And there is a seemingly optimal balance also in the use of instruments in the rich arrangements of all tracks. The band explores many moods and atmospheres, linking all transitions with a detached, subtle irony which emerges in moments at times funny, at times tragicomic and melancholic. It is difficult not to be transported by the richness in musical expression and content, everywhere remarked by top-notch musical performance and cooperation among instruments. Harmonies are very articulated (very tasty use of minor chords to top off though chord progressions that adds to the tragic and expressive power of the music), the songwriting is highly structured and calculated. These are among the highlights of the album. While the later "Silence" strives to keep the same output quality turning nonetheless to a darker overall sound, "Last epic" fully embodies that masterful property of developing all musical themes to the point just prior to the inception of boredom in the listener, suddenly turning into variation on themes, complex rythmic additions (odd signatures, shift in rythmoc stresses that reinvents the interpretation of the exposed material) or introducing new ideas that add further content to the piece while keeping their consistency.

Highly recommended to all lovers of expressve though complex, positive and energizing yet technically-proficient progrock!

Report this review (#245125)
Posted Sunday, October 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
Marty McFly
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars Yes! Crazy, that's the word that fits here perfectly. Because from beginning to end, this is big ride of insanity, even it's quite pleasant one. Quite a lot. Because we're talking about third in a row of half crazy / half insane (remember, I see these words as synonyms) album here, intended to be just for the pure beauty of it. And again, things that are melodic are tended to be rated lowly, because of pop leaning. No way, I feel absolutely calm here, even more than with their previous one. And having emphasis on melodies isn't crime, as a lot of people are trying to persuade us. Let's unite and join our group against these prejudices, we're on every social site like, facebook, myspace (just kidding, don't worry).

4(+), but I was serious about melody factor here. It's alfa-omega here, it stands and falls with it. By my opinion, these intelligent and mature tunes are pleasant for soul and interesting enough to be listened by proggers. It's well wrapped present, in a shiny paper with flitters and these sh_ts, but inside, it's even better. Much better. It's unexplainable, but be sure that this had hit me straight to the heart.

EDIT: It seems almost funny how crazy I was about this band while back ago. I lower, as long as first enthusiasm fell down. Let's be serious here and tell that this is really good album. With some weak spots. Because it depends on strong melody line / lines, when they aren't here, listener, used to hear them from previous tracks lack something.

Report this review (#251423)
Posted Tuesday, November 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
5 stars Listening to this album for the first time created a feeling I've experienced only on a few previous occasions. I'm talking about the sensation of realizing that I am listening to a masterpiece. Those type of moments are rare and far between so it's a real treat when it actually occurs so spontaneously.

With Last Epic A.C.T decided to higher the stakes, skip the short tracks and create one long concept composition. The result is an excellent trip that doesn't let go of the listener until the last note of the Outro is played. Although it's show stealers like Wailings From A Building and Mr. Landlord that will grab most listeners' attention the album will steadily unveil itself as a great all-around composition.

My favorite part of the record is the ending section that consists of the trio The Cause/The Effect/Summary. It reminds me somewhat of Dream Theater's ending of Scenes From A Memory that consists of One Last Time/The Spirit Carries On/Finally Free. It's basically the type of conclusions that makes me want to replay this album so that I can experience the entire trip from start to end and relive all these great moments.

I recommend Last Epic to everyone who enjoys creative bands with a sense of humor!

***** star songs: Wailings From A Building (4:21) Mr. Landlord (4:40) Dance Of Mr. Gumble (2:09) Manipulator (6:13) The Cause (3:26) The Effect (4:39) Summary (5:04)

**** star songs: Intro (0:48) Torn By A Phrase (5:35) Ted's Ballad (3:46) Wake Up (4:27) A Loaded Situation (3:29) The Observer (3:07) Outro (1:15)

Report this review (#258111)
Posted Sunday, December 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars First impressions.........very accomplished musicians playing challenging progressive fusion, but I had some problems with it. Allow me to explain. Each song seemed very much the same, both in style and structure. The guitar lines tended to favor the clipped, staccato styling that, while technically challenging, and great if used sparingly or in a larger, more varied context, formed too much of the foundation of the melody. It became the focal point of the lead, the melody that leads you through the song, and in short order, just becomes tiresome to the listener. Now to the vocals. the overly dramatic, Queen-esque, vox-enhanced theatrics were at times actually embarrassing. Sometimes embarrassing passages in music, if experienced alone, become a guilty pleasure but in this case just made me want to press the "next" button. These issues combined with the overall "sameness" of each song left me feeling weary of it all after just a few songs. Judging by some of the other reviews here, I am in the minority. It is very imaginitively conceived music that is performed by accomplished musicians but it just feels like it goes over the top a little bit.
Report this review (#275646)
Posted Tuesday, March 30, 2010 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars ACT have been described as a blend of QUEEN, SAGA and STYX while they themselves (as noted by Easy Livin) list ELO, MUSE and SAGA as influences. I can't say i'm into any of those bands unfortunately but this music is hard not to like.They do contrast those slower sections with the uptempo ones a lot. The music is fairly poppy with lots of strings helping out. And this is a concept album.

"Intro" is mostly strings then "Wailings From A Bullfrog" kicks in in such a great way. It settles unfortunately when the vocals arrive as contrasts continue. "Mr. Landlord" is powerful with vocals but again it settles quickly. Nice bass and we get some strings too. Contrasts continue. A guitar solo before 4 minutes. "Torn By A Phrase" opens with strings followed by a heavy soundscape. Nice. A calm with intricate guitar and vocals takes over. Strings are back then contrasts continue. "Ted's Ballad" is just that a ballad with piano, strings and reserved vocals. "Dance Of Mr. Gumble" is a really good instrumental.

"Wake Up" has an almost Regaee feel to start. Strings before 2 1/2 minutes then a guitar solo. The next three songs are my favourites. "Manipulator" has a nice heavy sound early with vocals. It settles with strings as contrasts continue. Good song. "A Loaded Situation" is heavy with guitar and drums leading. An excellent instrumental. "The Observer" is also heavy with vocals. "The Cause" opens with drums and processed vocals. The tempo picks up with normal vocals. This is poppy. "The Effect" features strings and vocals early. It kicks in at a minute. Catchy stuff. Guitar solo 3 1/2 minutes in. "Summary" is also catchy (aren't they all ?) and upbeat with vocals. It does settles as contrasts continue. "Outro" is mainly strings and vocals.

A good album no doubt about it, just not in the style I like.

Report this review (#279456)
Posted Monday, April 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars The concept behind Last Epic, as far as I can tell, is about some sort of weird apartment building in which all the activities are watched by sinister figures in the Surveying Room, but that's just from glancing at the song titles. But to be honest, I've never been able to follow the lyrics closely enough to put the story together completely. I've not found the music especially gripping either; it all tends to wash over me, with the moments that stand out (such as "Ted's Ballad") standing out for the wrong reasons - they're the bits when I say to myself "man, this song is *really* outlasting its welcome", and when you find yourself saying that about a song that's less than 4 minutes you know there's a problem.

For the most part, A.C.T.'s music seems to sit somewhere between the occasional heavy bit reminiscent of Dream Theater and more upbeat and brighter bits that remind me of The Flower Kings. It's an interesting blend, and I'm not entirely sure that it works for me - I've never found the FKs to be to my tastes. It's a good enough little album, but I also think it's not going to be to everyone's tastes; for my part, I don't get anything out of it.

Report this review (#344558)
Posted Monday, December 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is truly A.C.T's greatest work, and it will be very hard to top it.

The work itself is a special brand of prog, melodic and light - but the concept behind the album is very dark, and when put into context it creates a great clash. The quality of the compositions is extremely high throughout the album and there is really no weak spot. The album throws metal riffs, poppy choruses as well as tight passages with odd times being an important aspect of it - but it blends the different elements almost perfectly, still maintaining the overall enjoyable feeling.

As a whole it creates a listening experience beyond the ordinary, and it's one of the most tightly woven prog concept albums ever and a true modern masterpiece.

Five stars.

Report this review (#429603)
Posted Saturday, April 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album holds very high status in my collection. If I were to introduce someone to the Progressive Rock genre by handing them a stack of 10 albums, this would be one of them. If I were to do this with a stack of 5 albums, this would be one of them. And I have a very large collection. Whenever I pull this album out to listen to it, for days afterwards I find myself humming or whistling sections of the album. I sometimes find myself remembering and humming or whistling sections of this album even after months of not listening to it. This is an incredibly unique album. The best way I can think to describe this album is with Peter Pan's words: "Oh the cleverness of me!" I pick this phrase not only because "clever" is the best word to describe the album, but also because of the playfulness of the band - like a musical Peter Pan. The album is a concept album that introduces different residents of an apartment building as musical characters. In one of the songs, titled "Wake Up ? Apartment 122", I believe the apartment itself is made into a character. The music of this song itself is very playful, like a Progressive Reggae. But the lyrics are especially playful - here is a section: All these weird things that I am seeing, Glad I'm not like a human being, Losing temper, and problems with PMS? This album is a masterpiece, and you should listen to it. I PROMISE you it will be a fun experience, at the very least.
Report this review (#719376)
Posted Monday, April 9, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Third album from 2003 named Last epic, even has it moments of greatness is for me less intresting and convinceing, at is less progressive. Now they almost sound like a AOR band with prog leanings here and there. Again the music is up tempo with good parts, combining prog metal passages but without being a prog metal band with more bombastic parts, Imagine Saga meets Dream Theater for example. The pieces are shorter, but is a well balance between heaviness and more melodic parts. Is an ok album for me, nothing is groundbreaking here , I prefere Imaginary friends much more. 3 stars, good effert but kind far from masterpieces status.
Report this review (#838194)
Posted Monday, October 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Pop-prog-disco-metal-music theater-reggae.

This is undoubtedly ACT's best work. It's very well produced - punchy and clear, whereas the previous album had an annoyingly fuzzy guitar sound, maybe less over-produced and closer to live performance than here, but then again for a band with such lush sound ( they even have an ELO-like string section) production is key.

Another very appealing feature is the album concept. I won't get into details because I think it is very interesting to discover on your own. Suffice it to say, it's not another tortured assassin concept album. You could do a musical, or, even more fittingly, a play or sitcom around it.

ACT is one of these bands that proves its prog credentials by fusing diverse styles and switching between many parts in its songs. In first half of this album you have generally longer and rockier songs (sans the slightly wimpy Ted's ballad) and it ends with a disco- ish mini-suite of 4 shorter tracks. Some reviewers have noted that Last Epic is less proggy than Imaginary friends. Well Friends had all those changes within a song that sometimes felt abrupt and jarring. Epic is still very diverse, but the flow is more natural. And did I say how catchy it is?

Report this review (#991782)
Posted Thursday, July 4, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ever wondered how the bastard child of 10CC, Queen, City Boy and Dream Theater would sound? Well, you don't need to wonder any more, because this band is probably how...

What makes this band(and especially this album) stand out, is not the fact that the musicians are skilled and can play 2 million notes a second, but the fact that they are really good songwriters. Showmanship never gets in the way of a good melody. Also A.C.T have a way of blending many differerent genres into a tune and in addition to that, making it sound completely natural.

If you are into catchy melodies, clever arrangements and skilled but restrained and smart musicians, you should really give this album a go.

IMHO it is impossible to single out any tracks, but I will mention that "Wailings From A Bulding" has a guitar solo that is the perfect combination of technique and melody. Superb!

Also worth mentioning is the band's use of three part harmonies which maybe is what reminds me the most of 10CC and City Boy. Really good and playful singing. Also this is a concept album about a bulding and it's tenants. This makes way for interesting lyrical fun from both tenants and the buildings own perspective. Very unique!

I can not recommend this album enough!

Report this review (#1293664)
Posted Saturday, October 18, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Last Epic" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Swedish progressive rock/metal act A.C.T. The album was released through Atenzia Records in January 2003. "Last Epic" was re-released through InsideOut Music in 2007 and thereby given a wider distribution and publicity.

The music on the album is an interesting combination of 70s influenced art rock and a soft type progressive metal. The band are incredibly skilled musicians and pull off both complex rhythmic playing and more mellow type playing too. The vocals are especially impressive with both skillfully executed choirs and harmony vocals. I´m often reminded of the theatrical nature of Queen but actually even more of 10cc. There´s a tongue in cheek kind of humour about the music that points in the direction of the latter mentioned. The progressive metal element isn´t dominant on the album but when it appears the band can actually play some pretty heavy riffs and intriguing instrumental parts. I´m reminded slightly of early Dream Theater in a much more simple form. The predominantly brief instrumental parts are usually cleverly placed in the otherwise predominantly vers/chorus structured tracks. There are several highlights on the album, but I´d mention tracks like like "Wailings From a Building" and the wonderful "Mr. Landlord" as some of my personal favorites.

The sound production is clear, powerful, and detailed and suits the music well. So "Last Epic" is overall a quality release and while I sometimes feel the band could have cut down on the more ballad type tracks in favour of more hard rocking tracks (which is where I feel the band excel), even the ballads are a means to an end and upon conclusion "Last Epic" is a pretty well balanced album with a good flow. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

Report this review (#1316220)
Posted Friday, November 28, 2014 | Review Permalink
The Crow
3 stars Nothing new in the horizon...

But with this superb production and strong songwriting is also this lack of surprises is not so important. If that's the first A.C.T album you hear you'll be totally blown away with their eclectic vision of prog-rock, dramatic changes in almost every song and their influences, which balance between Dream Theater, Saga, Queen and musical and cabaret spectacles.

The king of the record is still Ola Andersson and his marvellous guitars and solos, alongside with the good vocals (but a bit too high pitched for my taste) of Herman Saming. The rest of the band is also great! And they managed to expand a bit their instrumental sound with some strings arrangements this time.

Nevertheless, I have the problem that I heard the A.C.T two previous albums before Last Epic, and therefore I find this third effort a bit repetitive and not really better, despite the general opinion. Actually, I think is under Today's Report and Imaginary Friends in terms of quality. It's obviously not so progressive and too ballad oriented, and the lyrical concept just weak.

Wake Up, Manipulator and Mr. Landford are outstanding and dynamic tracks, while others like Ted's Ballad are just average. Nevertheless the whole album is enjoyable thank to the incredible Andersson solos and imaginative riffs, along with the spectacular choirs and vocal melodies.

Conclusion: Last Epic brought nothing really new to A.C.T fans, apart from another very good example of eclectic prog, strong songwriting and pristine production. And all of this is great, but I'm a bit disappointed with the lack of evolution of the band. They just made a record which sounds just like the same of the two previous albums, but a bit less progressive and more conventional. Maybe they were trying to be more commercial?

Hard to say.

Best Tracks: Wailings from a Building, Mr. Landford, Wake Up, Manipulator, Dance of Mr. Gumble.

My rating: ***1/2, rounded down to three stars.

Report this review (#1766261)
Posted Wednesday, July 26, 2017 | Review Permalink

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