I've been an obsessed hard rock/heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.
Last Prophecy, "Shadows of the Past"
Original Release: 1995
Expanded 2-CD Reissue: Stormspell Records, 2020
16 Tracks (10 on Disc 1, 6 on Disc 2)
Think fast, kids -- name a French heavy metal band besides Gojira.
France boasted a vibrant home-grown heavy metal scene in the '80s and '90s that included such cult bands as Vulcain, High Power, Warning, Nightmare, and Satan Jokers, but aside from Trust (who are mainly known for Anthrax's cover of their hit "Anti-Social") and the aforementioned Gojira, very few French acts achieved prominence outside of their homeland. In an attempt to add a new name to the French Metal list, the obscure-steel archivists of Stormspell Records recently unleashed Last Prophecy's Shadows of the Past reissue. Originally released independently by the band in 1995, Stormspell's snazzy new soup-to-nuts deluxe edition expands this album to two CDs, adding tracks from a four song 1993 demo tape and several live cuts.
Last Prophecy deal out classy, melodic heavy metal with an overwhelming Iron Maiden influence. I was surprised to learn that this was a 1990s release - it sounds like it would have come out in 1985, not 1995.
"The Prince of Evil"
According to Metal-Archives, Last Prophecy was formed in 1992 and are still an active band today, though the current member list is down to only two players: bassist Stéphane Sauvage and guitarist Nelson Maia.
The ten tracks on Shadows of the Past are a serviceable blend of Powerslave-era Iron Maiden with a pinch of Yngwie Malmsteen's widdly-widdly neo-classical guitar heroism for flavor.
Disc 1 of Stormspell's reissue is the full Shadows of the Past album, kicking off with a short but sturdy (and very Steve Harris-like) bass intro, "Rising From the Ashes." The rest of the band joins in on the first track proper, "Sarkhandu," an impressively moody number that gives all of the band members a chance to show off their abilities. In spite of the band's way-obvious Maiden worship, vocalist Luke Bernard surprisingly doesn't sound much like Bruce Dickinson; he actually reminds me quite a bit of former Iced Earth singer John Greely (who appeared I.E.'s 1991 classic Night of the Stormrider). "Out of Shadows" and "Lost in Space" are classy, melodic metal numbers that both flirt with "epic" length, as each clocks in at around seven minutes.
The manic instrumental workout "Brain Damage" is a high speed guitar duel between Philippe Bertozzi and Dennis Yan, who sound like they're having a blast trying to out-do each other the entire time. "The Dark Half" and the ten minute plus "Fallen Heroes" keep the quality factor high and lead into a reverent cover of Iron Maiden's "Fear of the Dark" before the album closes with the crunchy bangers "Forbidden Dreams" and "The Prince of Evil."
The first track on CD2, "Ghost Train" from the band's 1993 demo, is an aggressive speed metal burner, followed by an early take on "Lost In Space." The demo continues with two more solid cuts, "Slave Traffic" and "The Last Waltz," before finishing up the package with two vintage live recordings: "Here, Over There, or Elsewhere," an instrumental from 1995, and "the Vision" from 1996.
While Last Prophecy may not be the most original combo, the impressive chops on display are more than sufficient to pique the interest of fans of vintage metal ala early Maiden, Rising Force, Liege Lord, Iced Earth, or Fates Warning.
The liner notes to Stormspell's CD are a treat to read, with lyrics to all the tracks as well as a Last Prophecy timeline/history that shows all the ins and outs of the band's various lineups. There's also a message from Stéphane Sauvage thanking the fans for their years of support and promising "the next chapter with a new and exciting lineup," so this band's story may not be over yet.
Whether you're a newcomer to Last Prophecy or a diehard French metal collector looking to upgrade your well-worn original copy of the CD, Stormspell's Shadows of the Past update is an impressive package all around. Be warned, this CD is an extremely limited pressing of a mere 500 copies, so grab this collector's item while you can!
© 2020 Keith Abt
Ivana Divac from Serbia on November 18, 2020:
This is a great review, and I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing!