When I started this weekly feature earlier this year, it was truly on a whim: a friend posted a video on her Facebook wall, and I liked it. I hear a lot of music that I like, but for some reason, the spark of an idea came to me from watching the video that I should start giving more attention to this blog and start showcasing a lot of the music that comes my way as a writer for two metal music-based sites. I have really come to enjoy looking for new videos to share here each week: sometimes I had an ample list of bands waiting to be shared for weeks in advance; and then there were other times when nothing reached my desk, thus prompting me to go out there and seek even further. But no matter whether it was a new discovery or a band I had liked for a long time, it became a pleasure to log in to this blog every Wednesday and share something with all of you.
So, as the year comes to a close and I reach my final weekly installment of 2016, what is the best way to put a cap on it and send it off into 2017? I think one good way is to pay tribute to a particular recurring theme that has—completely unintentionally—become another fun aspect of writing these weekly entries. Over the last 8 months since I began this feature in early April, the abundance of music from Italy that kept finding its way here every Wednesday was something of which I could not help but take notice. Whether it was symphonic metal, power metal, or progressive metal—Italy has been bringing levels of quality music to the metal scene that cannot be denied. Therefore it is only fitting that my final Hump Day Hot Ticket entry of 2016 takes us back to Italy one more time.
This week, I introduce you to Last Union: not only a band from Italy, but a well-rounded supergroup consisting of respected musicians from other parts of the world. Like fellow Italian band Secret Rule (whom I have featured here twice before), Last Union calls upon some of the most esteemed names in the power and progressive metal scene, and creates kick-ass music that keeps the genre alive and well. Featuring ex-Helloween drummer Uli Kusch and Symphony X bassist Mike LePond, Last Union's melodic metal style takes the best of what prog and power metal have to offer, with some lovely female vocals on top.
For the band's first single (and the video I am reviewing), “President Evil”, Last Union levels up their supergroup status in a huge way and enlists the talents of none other than Dream Theater vocalist James LaBrie. This merger is what caught my attention towards Last Union, and piqued my curiosity to hear what this band was about, as I am a huge Dream Theater fan (remember that “musical holy trinity” I wrote about a few weeks back?), and I love LaBrie's voice. So naturally, I had to hear this.
Musically, this is a heavy track that highlights LaBrie's more “aggressive” vocal style, which fits the lyrical content perfectly. This is a lyric video, so we see a lot of imagery set to the song's lyrics, such as graphics of a dollar bill or newspaper headlines reworked to feature a line from the song. Many could read into the lyrics to have relevance to the current political state in the U.S. right now, with lines such as “President slowly goes insane”, “give the world a star to fool with your business and playing the solemn game”, or “stare at your scenery...leader, make up your mind”, or “preaching for tomorrow, lacking for today...questioning contacts, dark speeches are running out of time”. However, because this is not a political blog, I will make no commentary one way or the other, as it is not my place to tell anyone how they should interpret lyrics or what one's relationship to music should be. That is what makes music wonderful, after all: we each hear the same thing, but no two people listen identically.
For more information on Last Union, or to purchase their debut album, Most Beautiful Day, visit the band's official website.