Lastera – From the Ashes Review

If there’s one musical style I could argue “let me down” last year, it was power metal. Nothing really grabbed me, nothing impressed me, nothing stuck. That’s disappointing, mind you, because I generally love power metal in all its cheesy, crazy glory. So when I came upon From the Ashes, the debut full-length from Danish newcomers Lastera, I didn’t need much convincing to check it out. Promoted as a work of symphonic power metal with influence from progressive and extreme metal styles, I quickly found myself right at home as I worked through the album. How do Lastera stack up against their influences?

I’d say they stack up pretty well; Lastera are joyously reminiscent of the European symphonic power metal acts that dominated the late ’00s to early ’10s, but with a modern flair that enables them to sound, y’know, good. From the moment the title track begins, you pretty much know what you’re in for. I love the band’s use of piano here, and the song itself is high-energy, with a catchy chorus and great guitar solo. “Running on Fumes” reminds me fondly of Frozen Land1, and “A Man in a Suit” is the best Sonata Arctica song I’ve heard in years. It helps that the album is produced well and sounds great, as fresh, modern project should. It’s a great balance, and lends itself to a very strong performance by Lastera.

Of course, Lastera are more than the sum of their stylistic influences. Really, that’s the key here—they have their own clear identity that they explore to its fullest throughout From the Ashes. The band does a great job of mixing strings, piano, and a variety of other instruments into their music, giving tracks like “Paralyzed” and “Trial by Fire” an edge that helps define them. It helps that Lastera excel at choruses; “Larger Than Life,” the token power ballad is transcended by its huge chorus, while the adventurous “Feet Made of Clay” uses its own as an opportunity to dial back a little. Lastera has personality; it’s amazing how much feeling they can squeeze out of one pianist and drummer (“A Man in a Suit”), a single guitar solo (“From the Ashes”), or a solid bass line (“Comfort of Shade”). From the Ashes occasionally dips its toe into -core territory, with harsh vocals and shouts on “BEHOLD!” and in a few other places. I don’t love them, but they do demonstrate that this is an album with character. The promo sheet that accompanies the album claims that “Lastera is burning with creative fire,” and damn is it right.

Most of the things I’d criticize about From the Ashes are minor enough that I almost feel I’m nitpicking in writing this paragraph. While the drums, lead guitars, and bass guitars all sound great, the rhythm guitars are a bit muted. I suspect this is to make way for orchestrations and leads, and it’s hard to argue with the logic. I do wish the album was a bit more aggressive at times though, especially for tracks like “Running on Fumes,” which ooze passion and fire, but feel a little less heavy than it could be. At times, it seems like Oliver Svennson’s voice isn’t quite as charismatic as the music demands, and I often find myself wishing he’d make use of his impressive range a little more than he does. I could argue that the album lags a bit in the middle, but the whole way through, From the Ashes is such a fun album with so much going for it that I really can’t be unhappy. When it’s over, I’m more often than not perfectly content to simply spin it again.

I love writing positive reviews for debut albums2, and Lastera has given me the perfect opportunity to do exactly that. There are opportunities to grow for certain, but it’s hard for me to complain much about this one. From the Ashes is fun, creative, and just nostalgic enough for me. I like that it’s straightforward, love that it’s catchy, and admire how well it’s all written and done. Hopefully we get to hear more from Lastera in the not-too-distant future. I like where these guys seem to be headed.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 160 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Released
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: January 21st, 2022

Show 2 footnotes

  1. I know, I know, they didn’t exist in the early 2010s. If that truly bothers you, you can pretend I said Stratovarius instead.
  2. In general too.
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