Artist: Our Last Crusade
Album: The Ideal and The Actual
Your whole life, you’ve been a dreamer; whether day or night, far fetched or practical, your imagination has always held a dominant role in your personality and perspective on life. While you think in floral, vivid colors, your life remains split in two, comprised of a stark contrast between the cold, hard, real world and the vivacious, immersive and imaginative one you paint around yourself. Much the same, Our Last Crusade compose a crushing and creative display of progressive metalcore prowess that lives up to its name. The debut full length by these cunning Calgary natives, The Ideal and The Actual takes heavy, hard-hitting, down-tuned devastation (the “actual”) and swathes it in colorful, punchy and progressive metallic instrumentation, giving the listener ideal, epic aural adventures tinted with skin-peeling reminders of the ruthless nature of the real world surrounding them.
Our Last Crusade are master storytellers, and they use brilliant and boldly contrasting musical styles—as well as intricate instrumentation—to enrapture the listener in their lore. Built on a foundation of pummeling, punchy percussion, The Ideal and The Actual features a luscious cornucopia of grooves, riffs and chug-laden breakdowns ranging from slams taken out of a downtempo deathcore playbook, from skyward-bound shred that would make early 2000’s Between the Buried and Me blush. Guitarists Brady Schmidt and Kyle Prusky are two of the most diverse and entertaining guitarists metalcore has seen in eons. Taking layers of fluid, frenetic grooves paved by bassist Matt Danko, Schmidt and Prusky are fluent in fretworks of all styles and sounds—giving The Ideal and The Actual the multifaceted dynamic that makes it such a riveting and immersive experience. While Danko pounds and plunks away, smoothing out layer after layer of jarring, punchy drumming, Schmidt and Prusky flow from almost-djenty grooves to shreddy, technical riffs and skin-shredding slam-tinted breakdowns that drop the listener’s jaw to the floor. In this manner, The Ideal and The Actual clearly separates itself into two equally engaging “halves” that come together to make a marvelous, full-bodied “whole.”
The Ideal. Floral layers of beautiful instrumentation simply filled-to-bursting with life and beauty alike. Take the album’s introductory track, “Don’t Let Your Dreams Die,” or the bouncy, bold adventure found within “Revelation.” Here, Danko’s bass is softer, more palatable and placid at parts—letting Schmidt and Prusky paint murals of marvelous, intrepid instrumentation that bounce hither and to like ping-pong balls coated in flubber. Nearly every track found on The Ideal and The Actual is flecked with the paint of Our Last Crusade’s creative penchant for peerless song structure and tedious technicality. Where Danko dives in and out of the shadows with low, bouncy bass grooves and Pruksy works with Schmidt to create enthralling soundscapes build upon shred and speed, vocalist Scott Wilson remains understated, softening his roars to a more delicate shout, and rarely—especially on “Don’t Let Your Dreams Die”—reaching into his lungs to discover a crooned, clearly-sung register. However these facades of Our Last Crusade’s imaginative side only last for so long before they crumble under the brutalizing, bewildering harshness of The Actual.
The Actual. Underneath the floral façade of warm, invitingly progressive instrumentation there is nothing but bone-breaking heaviness and belligerent, brain-melting intensity. “Postmodern Man,” as well as the bloodthirsty bravado of “The Wolf in Waiting” are excellent examples of Our Last Crusade’s crushing, ruthless penchant for punishing the listener. Here, Prusky and Schmidt are twin sledgehammers, swinging at the listener’s skull and pulverizing every pound of sanity they once held dear. Danko dwells under them, coating every meaty kick drum smack with a thick, filthy layer of grime. Here, Wilson is the voice of hell itself. His boldly barked roars and diverse range of devastating vocals add excellent depth and energy to Our Last Crusade’s already aggressive instrumentation. Tracks like “The Wolf in Waiting,” as well as “This Age of Distraction” see Wilson using grisly growls and shrill screams to literally tell the story that The Ideal and The Actual hosts, working in excellent dynamic with the band’s instrumental aspect to keep the listener hooked.
Every second of The Ideal and The Actual builds up to “Tale of a Broken Man,” a haunting, eerie anthem that brings both aspects of Our Last Crusade’s unique sound into a whirling dialectic. It is here where the lines between fact and fiction—the world the listener inhabits and the world they hear in their headphones—begins to blur. “Tale of a Broken Man” defies conventional description—rather it, as well as the remainder of The Ideal and The Actual is an enthralling experience that simply demands to be heard. While portions of Our Last Crusade’s album may break the impressive illusion crafted within the release’s opening seconds, it remains an outstanding an unique testament to progressive, heavy music that will appeal to veteran fans and new ears alike, igniting imaginations across the heavy music underground.
For Fans Of: Volumes, Between the Buried and Me, The Contortionist, Reflections
By: Connor Welsh