LAST IN LINE – Heavy Crown
I have eagerly awaited the arrival of this debut album entitled «Heavy Crown» by the band named Last in Line, and I might as well tell all you fucks out there right now that is has been well worth the wait. As many of you undoubtedly already know, the band consisted of extremely talented and legendary performers, namely original DIO members Vivian Campbell (guitars), Vinny Appice (drums), and Jimmy Bain (bass). The vocalist is none other than Andrew Freeman, who is an awesome frontman. A great singer who is gifted with a very unique voice, that is for sure. For those of you who have been fortunate enough to witness the Raiding the Rock Vault show in Las Vegas, you know what I am talking about. You probably noticed my use of the past tense when I said that the band «consisted of» as opposed to «consists of», which, obviously, is due to the tragic loss of the legend that is Jimmy Bain just a few weeks ago. I still cannot believe that we have lost one of the greatest bass players of all time, and what makes it even more tragic is that Last in Line were just about to release this album and do some touring and whatnot. Bain sounds so inspired and enthusiastic on this record, and there are some killer bass lines to be found throughout. Trust me on that.
While Last in Line essentially started out as a DIO tribute act of sorts in that they «only» performed songs off «Holy Diver», «Last in Line», and «Sacred Heart» when they played a few shows in the UK and US back in 2013, it quickly mutated into something else entirely, which is evidenced by «Heavy Crown». The album is comprised of 11 hard-rocking tunes that are all filled with catchy riffs, great hooks, crushing drums, soaring vocals, and attitude. One can tell that these guys are veterans and that they know exactly how to write proper kick-ass tunes. No fucking around. This is the real deal. As much as I like Def Leppard, I must say that it is extremely refreshing and cool to hear Vivian Campbell tear it up on the guitar once again; the riffs are totally there and the solos are both melodic and lethal. Vinny Appice always plays his ass off. It is as simple as that really. Andrew Freeman delivers every damn note with passion and intensity while Jimmy Bain’s unique presence and way of playing adds groove to the whole thing.
«Heavy Crown» is a dynamic and varied affair, and the majority of songs are all great. The arrangements are clever and the lyrics are well-written. The songs range from the epic and heavy to the mellow and morose and further on to the fast and hard-hitting. Slow parts, fast parts, and pretty much everything in between. It is all there. Also, Jeff Pilson (Foreigner, ex-DIO) deserves praise for the production as it totally fits the material, and the whole thing sounds organic and lively. While one can clearly detect influences from those early DIO albums in quite a few places throughout, I think «Heavy Crown» sounds somewhat modern too. Do not get me wrong; this is classic heavy metal delivered with class and aggression by some of the greatest musicians out there, but it sounds to me as if «Heavy Crown» was conceived by a band who is looking to the future as opposed to merely repeating something that was 30 or so years ago. Highly recommended if classic hard rock and heavy metal is your thing! What on earth are you waiting for?