01. A Day In The Life (The Beatles cover) 02. Hurricane Orlagh 03. Devil In Me (Live) 04. Give Up The Ghost (Live)
Originally formed as a tribute to their former boss Ronnie James Dio, LAST IN LINE have long since outgrown the limitations of that noble aim. The band's lineup speaks for itself: guitarist Vivian Campbell (DIO / DEF LEPPARD), drummer Vinnie Appice (DIO / BLACK SABBATH), bassist Phil Soussan (OZZY / BILLY IDOL) and frontman Andrew Freeman (singer with LYNCH MOB on three separate occasions), each one a respected titan in his own right, and with the glittering resume to match. The first two LAST IN LINE albums are genuinely great, too. While proudly displaying a debt to their days with the diminutive master, both "Heavy Crown" (2016) and "II" (2019) were full of huge songs and predictably deft performances. Both deserved a lot more attention than they received, but that's showbiz.
Fast forward to right now, and LAST IN LINE are working on their third full-length album, speculatively set for release in 2023. While we wait, this stopgap EP does a decent job of keeping the fire burning, with one new song, one cover and two live tracks.
Taking on THE BEATLES' "A Day In The Life" is brave, but LAST IN LINE get the balance between respectful tribute and creative challenge just about right. Their version is, of course, heavier than the original, taking a turn towards dark thrash before the jaunty, Paul McCartney half of the song pops up and cheers everybody up. The arrangement is sharp and inventive, with some clever, faux-psychedelic flourishes and Vinnie Appice permanently teetering on the edge of seismic activity.
The remaining songs give a more accurate representation of where LAST IN LINE are at musically. "Hurricane Orlagh" is the first fruits of writing sessions for the third record, and it's a giddy whirlwind of bluesy metal riffs and wild vocal histrionics, with Freeman on particularly blistering form. Extra points are awarded for Campbell's vicious solo. The two live tracks offer a potted history: "Devil In Me" opened the band's debut, and remains a soulful hard rocker with charisma to burn; "Give Up The Ghost" was a major high point on "II" and still sounds like some magical, doomy out-take from the Tony Martin-led BLACK SABBATH. More importantly, both live songs showcase what a phenomenal, feel-driven band LAST IN LINE are. These men know how to rock. We probably shouldn't be surprised.
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