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Athlantis - Last But Not Least

Last But Not Least
by Chris Hicklin at 24 January 2022, 12:43 PM

Although formed way back in 2003, Italian Melodic Metallers ATHLANTIS got off to a slow start managing just two albums in fourteen years, but things started to pick up speed in 2017, and since then, under the direction of bassist and leader Steve Vawamas, the band has been pumping out material, culminating in this, their ominously titled seventh full length release “Last But Not Least”. Perhaps a portend of a cessation of activities for the band, one has to question why the band would choose this name for their album.

The introduction to the album raises similar questions, why would a band choose to start their album with a sonic montage of old material? As a radio passes from track to track as though moving from station to station, it takes us through an aural history of the band. It all seems rather deliberate. If it isn’t, it’s just a waste of air and time, so I will choose to believe it carries a deeper meaning.

Kicking us off we have “Broken Soul”, which serves up a decent chunky guitar riff from the six strings of Pier Gonella, who also has a decent solo spot proving his playing to be quite fluid and informed. He has a further chance to prove this as the song picks up speed towards the end, giving drummer Mattia Stancioiu a chance to stretch his legs with some sterling double bass drum work backing up a ripper of a shred solo. Davide Dell'Orto’s vocals are a bit throaty, and he sounds like he is struggling a little with the material, especially where the performance requires subtlety.

Scream Louder” introduces a bit more of a dynamic song structure, as the piece moves between slower, plodding verses, and fast hard choruses with a decent vocal hook, which unfortunately is again compromised by the quality of the vocals. Further vocal issues are evident on tracks like “Stranded”, a contemplative, but too-long ballad with a beautiful piano and cello led introduction. Dell’Orto’s voice breaks easily, he can sound like he is being strangled when trying to sing nuanced parts, and his stunted and overly dramatic delivery can make it hard to hear his lyrics. When he breaks out however, and pushes his vocals harder, he achieves more consistent results.

Me and You” is a pedestrian hard rocker which is lifted by some cool spaced out 80s keyboard work from Stefano Molinari, but neither this nor a blistering shred-heavy guitar solo can save it from its own humdrum. Once again, the vocals are an incomprehensible mess on “Waiting for You”, I can’t understand a word that is being sung, although the introduction leads me to believe the song might be about a dog sat outside a shop. Maybe. By the time album closer “Much Stronger” fails to live up to its moniker, I have made my peace with the idea of moving on from this LP.

While the playing is to a high standard, the production on the album is only acceptable, I would not stretch to calling it good. The guitars are well recorded, but the drums have a bit of a Tupperware sound to them, and the whole affair is a little bit flat, which combined with generic song writing that never moves beyond the boundaries of 80s influenced hard rock, makes for a forgettable album.

Songwriting: 5
Musicianship: 7
Production: 5

2 Star Rating

1. Intro
2. Broken Soul
3. Scream Louder
4. Cursed Time
5. Devil or Woman
6. Falling Star
7. Stranded
8. Me and You
9. Waiting for You
10. Much Stronger
Steve Vawamas - Bass, Keyboards
Mattia Stancioiu - Drums
Pier Gonella - Guitars
Stefano Molinari - Keyboards
Davide Dell'Orto – Vocals
Record Label: Diamonds Productions


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