REVIEW: CIVIL WAR – “The Last Full Measure”
After only a year and a half away from the battlefield, Civil War is back in the trenches and ready to strike. I was very fond of their last output ‘Gods and Generals’ (Read Our Review Here) and was expecting nothing short of fun for this new play. Maintaining the same lineup as before, the band delivers the final piece of a trilogy with ‘The Last Full Measure’. I say trilogy because all Civil War album names were taken from The Civil War Trilogy of books written by Michael Sahaara and his son, Jeff: ‘The Killer Angels’, ‘Gods and Generals’ and ‘The Last Full Measure’. I’m not sure if all the songs are inspired by these books as I’ve not read them, but definitely the bits that contemplate American history are.
So here we are with the new campaign by the Swedish troopers, an album that at the same time follows the musical approach of the previous ones (in the vein of Sabaton) and tries to detach itself from comparisons with said band. From the opener “Road to Victory” we can see that this is going in the more epic direction of things, with a bombastic chorus, lots of keyboards and a fast, urgent atmosphere. The track could be easily fit in the previous endeavors and will surely pump you up. However, the other songs in the first half of the album don’t follow these steps; “Deliverance” and “Savannah” try to mix things with different song structures and a slower approach to power metal, but end up turning into tiresome and forgettable bits, albeit decent. “Tombstone” and “America” fit the same profile, with the former being a little bit superior in terms of hooks and overall performance, featuring a carnival-like introduction followed by an explosive and inspired verse which leads to a good chorus and prolific solo.
The second half of the experience is slightly better. “A Tale That Should Never Be Told” falls in the ‘Sabaton trap’ in the verses and bridge, but manages to be somewhat original in the chorus. Sadly, though, this is yet another song by CivilWar that could be mistaken to one of their compatriots. “Gangs of New York” has a cool melodic and sad vibe that quickly turns into anger and rage. This is a more cadenced track that abuses of keyboards and choirs, which bodes well with the atmosphere. And then we have “Gladiator”; I will say this with full confidence and cannot stress this enough: this is by far the best song in Civil War discography. Fast, explosive, catchy, fiery, crushing. This song will make you want to fight lions with your bare hands dressed in nothing but a underwear made of wolf pelt, grab a machete and destroy your desk at work, crash your car into that SOB that cut you off on the highway and give you the confidence your pathetic life so desperately needs to finally talk to that cute girl you want to ask out but can’t because you’re a wimp. “Gladiator” will make you become a modern time gladiator and rule your opponents in life.
Last, but not least, we have “People of the Abyss” and closer “The Last Full Measure”. The former is yet another good display of the band’s potential that features a catchy chorus and a decent solo, and I swear that Nils Patrick Johansson impersonates a cat at the end of the song (meow, meow. You’ll know what I mean when you hear the tune). The latter starts with a cool organ and is one of the more cadenced songs in the play. My only complaint here is that this track is not that good of a closer; maybe they should have moved it to the mid portion of the album.
These guys are doing a good job distancing themselves from Sabaton; while the core elements are still basically the same, they managed to add some original ingredients to their music and have modified the mixing to sound a little bit more organic than their Swedish nemesis. Aside from a few slides here and there, ‘The Last Full Measure’ is a very decent output and is bound to please fans of the band. I cannot help to think, though, that this is their weakest album to date; in fact, my opinion is that ‘The Killer Angels’ was their peak and the subsequent albums gradually lost quality, which is somewhat worrying. I’m curious to see where the band will go from here.