If somebody asked me to describe the Italian group Last Rites in two adjectives, the first words that would come to mind would most certainly be ‘solid’ and ‘consistent’. Active since 1997, the group is noteworthy in the depths of metal as they’re hard to pinpoint musically. Their newest album ‘Nemesis’ is scheduled for release today and it is overall a strong album. Where my definition of ‘strong’ comes from is something I’m not quite sure about. They don’t really conform to previous standards one can use as a template. Nonetheless the album is as heavy as it is melodic and that’s a quality I always admire. They’re sometimes put into the death metal category but the only quality on this record that would remotely appertain to death-metal would probably be the vocals and the occasional fast sections. Besides, they put thrashy mid-tempo fist-pumping accessibility over extreme speed and technicality. They’re often labelled as ‘technical’ but this album is pleasing to fans of technical and non-technical metal. The zenith of their technicality is showcased in their guitar solos which often feature diminished scales, glissando arpeggio licks and sweep-picking. Time-signature wise it’s mostly 4/4-driven and there’s a lot of adherence to conventional songwriting formats. Not like that’s a negative thing, – because they’re actually accomplished songwriters. Tracks like ‘Realm of Illusions’ feature a lot of staccato riff patterns whereas ‘Fallen Brother’, the longest track, features a highly impressive outro titled ‘Glory to the Brave’. They abandon distorted guitars as their sole instrumentation and go incredibly left-field with the interpolation of a grand-piano sequence. Then it builds upon a vast array of electronic soundscapes before settling as the flute takes the lead role. – Thrash metal at its most representative? Certainly not, – but the great thing is that they’re not afraid to show how multi-faceted they are in their songwriting. Admittedly I would have liked if there were a few more sections like the ending of ‘Fallen Brother’ to prove to their listeners their plunge into mellow territory isn’t just a one-off. But even the album cover is a good indication they’re not confined to fitting into preconceived expectations. There’s a cosmic atmosphere not totally unlike something predecessors Atheist would have done to avoid the stereotypical realms of cover art. As a whole ‘Nemesis’ is an immensely satisfying affair; my personal favourite has to be ‘26.04.86’, nicely representative of an album which thrives upon never-ending guitar tracks and perennially driving percussion.
1. Paradox of Predestination
2. Architecture of Self-Destruction
4. Ancient Spirit
5. Fallen Brother – Glory to the Brave (outro)
6. Human Extinction
7. Realm of Illusions
8. Souls’ Harvest