The Last Of Us (Preachers Cath Records, 2020)
“The Last Of Us begins where others left off”. This card introduces Nick Vincent’s new band from Sweden, along with Andy Swans and company. Old school gothic rock, according to their definition, that actually manages to go beyond that to find all the fury and calm that is needed.
The Last Of Us can be considered the next step on the road started by The Preachers of Neverland (TPON), the Swedish gothic rock band. Formed in the early 90s and contemporary with their compatriots Funhouse, Malaise and Dawn Of Oblivion, TPON showed their taste for Fields Of The Nephilim through the vocals of Nick Vincent, the guitars of Andy Swans/P. Ashman and the bass of C. Deerman; a worthy proposal that, although it did not invent the wheel, sounded very good.
And although Nick has given free rein to his creativity in other groups and styles (The Preachers, noise/industrial metal; Grate, sludge metal; Windymills, pop/rock), the wheel begins a new cycle that updates the proposal of his seminal band, for greater enjoyment of nephs, goth rockers and hard rockers.
Excuse me… Hard rockers? Yep! The general tone of this homonymous first album by The Last Of Us is gothic, with a post-apocalyptic atmosphere, but its openness to hard rock suits it very well, resulting in ten varied tracks. And if The Wake’s Perfumes and Fripperies (2020) is great to listen to with incense and surrounded by mist, The Last Of Us is great for a beer in a pub bar.
Getting our hands dirty
The album opens with Draw, a track you have to listen to. At least a couple of times, because it’s not wasted. If it doesn’t provoke a gesture of approval or headbanging, you may be taking the wrong route. Turn back the way you came, or listen to it again. The pounding rhythm of the drums, the hard and epic guitars, the voice that is sometimes monochrome, sometimes loud and melodic… The Fields’ spirit is still there in a subtle way, and The Last Of Us walk on the shoulders of giants, but with a direction of their own.
It is funny that after the classic song The Preacher Man (1987) or Carl McCoy’s incursion into cinema (Hardware, 1990), the post-apocalyptic theme was revitalised with the remake of Mad Max, making it fully valid in a pandemic present and a very unflattering near future in environmental terms. So the choice of The Last Of Us is, at least, coherent with the current imaginary.
Tigers Thrashing In introduces synthesized keyboards and programmed bases to provide ambience, without leaving aside the guitars and the rock essence. Here the calmer side of the group is shown without losing the rudeness that is expected from every veteran cowboy. Talking more seriously, it’s a good song, pleasant to listen and that, even being more melodic, doesn’t lose the rhythm.
You don’t expect the next step the first time you hear it. Before I Die releases the adrenaline sweat of Motörhead – and Discharge, as Nick himself admits -. Striking guitars, a short and intense riff, and a steadily drum kit; Nick’s broken voice leads the way with no need to shout. Check it out if you want…
A Little Time stands out for its infectious chorus (“all I’m asking is just a little time, before I’m gonna fade away”), in a song that begins calmly but gradually intensifies.
The intensity returns with Eerie The Wolverine, but with a more punk touch, once again thanks to the drums. The guitar solos are 100% “guitar hero”, something that I’m not passionate about but that certainly fits with the rest.
With a few keyboard notes, The Eternal Machine creates an atmosphere of mystery and anticipation that serves as an introduction to the work of the guitars, and which is taken up again almost at the end. A good exercise on how to alternate and integrate the protagonisms of two instruments, and one of my favourite tracks on the album.
With Slocode, Nick shows us how far his lower tones can reach, accompanied by his bass.
Finally, the closing track of the album should be highlighted. The Dying Man has a development of eight minutes, and you can already imagine what album comes to mind as a reference (Elizium!!!). The great thing is that, once again, you can notice the band’s own personality, and the nuances of other rock sub-genres (it sounds to me like Black Sabbath, Ministry and Killing Joke at specific moments).
Although there are still three songs to be commented, the essence of this album is already quite clear. The Last Of Us is now available on Bandcamp and Spotify. In addition, the group plans to release it on CD in March 2021 (and I wouldn’t rule out a vinyl version, given the guesswork the group is making on their Facebook page). Personally, I’ve been surprised and delighted to see the evolution from The Preachers Of Neverland – it will still play on my stereo, no doubt!