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Last Knight - Seven Deadly Sins CD (album) cover


Last Knight


Crossover Prog

3.83 | 21 ratings

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4 stars Last Knight is a Neo-prog supergroup that has consisted of several different musicians, many of whom have played with other progressive and non-progressive bands. Some of the many musiciansw that have participated on Last Knight albums in the past have consisted of Theo Travis (who has worked extensively with Robert Fripp and Steven Wilson of various ptojects), Ashley Mulford (Sad Café, Mike & the Mechanics), Troy Donockley (Iona, Nightwish), Geoffrey Richardson (Penguin Café Orchestra, Caravan), and many others. The person behind bringing the Last Knight project together is Jose Manuel Medina who coordinates the recording sessions which are usually held over the internet.

The project was formed in 1997 and has been active ever since. On Halloween of 2019, the Crossover Band released their 5th full length album called "Seven Deadly Sins", which is a concept album with 7 tracks that explore each of the 7 deadly sins. The run time for the album exceeds 69 minutes. The entire album centers around the story based upon Dante's "The Divine Comedy", and some of the tracks are broken up into named sections based on the story. Medina is still in charge on this album and provides vocals, keyboards, piano and orchestrations. Along with him is a huge line up of musicians that include Richie Castellano (Blue Oyster Cult) and John Mitchell (Frost, Lonely Robot) providing the main vocals, Theo Travis is also involved bringing in his signature temor sax and flute, along with many others, including the Somnus Symphony Orchestra and includes more keyboards, guitarists, drummers, a violin and a cello. The album is dedicated to the memory of John Wetton.

The first track is called "Lust" (11:12) and begins with a heavily orchestrated "Overture" which is followed by "Descent to Hell", which brings in some rhapsodic piano flourishes, and a lead violin. So far, this is all very impressive and quite dramatic. The vocals by Medina come in and are quite easily understood. Between verses, there are some nice instrumental interludes featuring guitar, synth, and orchestral backing, everything professionally played and quite well-polished. This first vocal section is called "The Lustful", a progressive section takes the music into the next vocal section called "Craving Pleasure". There are two verses, and you can hear Medina's strong accent, but it brings some believability to the character. When the music suddenly moves to a much heavier and guitar-laden section is when the track moves to the last section "Between Love and Lust". There are a few layers of guitars that keep things heavy as this instrumental section plays through with a driving and heavy tone that continues with the remainder of the track.

"Gluttony" (4:26) begins with sound effects and soft piano, but then soon changes to a more jocular sounding, matching the story of an overweight person who likes to eat, of course. The lighthearted vocals brings out the accent quite a bit stronger on this one. It's a bit silly, but not really what you would call funny necessarily. This one is not really that appealing to me as the humor is a bit forced. "Greed" (9:05) is taken more seriously, and the music is much better again. The feel of the track is a bit more organic with acoustic guitar, flute and such, and this gives sections of the track a slightly folkish feeling. The harmonies further in are nice just before the music gets more upbeat and features some electric guitar solos that refrain from being too heavy. Later, as the instrumental section continues, there is a bit of intensity that is generated in a progressive section, and then the vocals return bringing back the softer sound. Changing rhythms and sections bring a lot of variety and drama to the story and keeps the music interesting as this track stays in a more classical rock style, but brings in some occasional heavier parts too.

"Sloth" (11:23) is another track with multiple sub-sections, 4 to be exact. It starts with a more symphonic sounding "Sodom's Son" which features heavy orchestration and piano backing the vocals. As it all continues, processed vocals and harmonies come in for the 2nd section "Sinfonietta of Laziness". Synthesized arpeggios weave in and out like waves as romantic piano plays, and both real and synthesized orchestration swells, but the every changing styles play around with the main theme and improvise on it as the synth solos come and go. The next section "Watcher of the Wind" sees the acoustic guitar taking over and vocals start again, echoing the vocals of Jon Anderson with a pastoral background. The piano takes over again, but a nice echoing pedal steel guitar comes in and things take on a more Pink Floyd-ian style. The last section of the track, "The Boundaries of Apathy" takes up most of the 2nd half of the track with a moderately slow instrumental section that is quite emotional and lovely with the guitar taking charge.

"Anger" (7:00) begins with piano and violin playing and treated vocals come in with a soft melody comes in bringing in some quirky drumming and mellotron. Things build and become quite tricky and progressive as melodies and instruments become more complex and build up in intensity. The music still shifts around quite a bit, and the use of the word "irascible" is used extensively, which is not a word one tends to hear often I suppose. A long instrumental section continues with a heavy bass line and guitar solo becoming more intense as it goes on.

"Envy" (12:03) is divided up into 8 subsections, beginning with a swirling organ line, flute, solid bass, flute, mellotron and such. "Against All Generosity" provides this introduction, the vocals start with an interesting melody and catchy bass line for the section "The Principles of Envy (I)". Things turn from dark to playful for "The She-Wolf" and then calms again when the vocals begin. There is some really great flute work done here by Theo Travis, and he cements the sections together. "The Man Who Wanted to Be" sees more vocals, and a more straightforward soft rock sound, heavy on the mellotron. The slower, more pensive style returns with piano and violin, with wind effects, for "Crossing the Styx Lagoon". Soon the drums and bass come in, and the riff for "The Principles of Envy (II)" bring the main melody back. The last section begins with a pastoral feel as "The Abode of Human Suffering" builds up in intensity for an emotional and powerful ending.

"Pride" (14:15) begins with a ticking clock and music box sound, and an orchestral swell brings in a solo violin followed by guitar as the twinkling music box vibes play. The vocals come in on the returning melody that is used throughout the album. The music remains moderate most of the way through as the song develops, vocal verses are connected together by instrumental interludes and there is a good balance of all instruments throughout. At 7 minutes, the music switches direction and becomes more progressive as a short wild section plays, and the music becomes almost broadway sounding, like you would hear in a musical play, then it calms for a more soulful sounding instrumental section, highlighted by some nice organ, then the main theme of the track returns for the last verse.

The album has a lot of styles and textures throughout, and is tied to the progressive styles of Neo-prog more than anything, but it isn't afraid of exploring other styles at the same time. It can be quite dramatic at times, and other times can get emotional and dynamic. It is a great album, however, it never quite reaches anything above 4 stars. I think a lot of the classic prog-heads that will enjoy this, as I do, but I don't think it comes close to the masterpiece status, however, it is still better than just good. The weaker passages are there, but they don't seem to be as bad when heard in the entire context of the album, and when it is all said and done, you are left feeling like it is an excellent album, but one that still has room for improvement. In the end, I think it passes as a 4 star album, but we'll see how it holds out over the long term. Great album, anyway.

TCat | 4/5 |


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