Nairobi based metalcore stalwarts Last Year’s Tragedy recently released their long awaited debut album titled ‘Amongst Lions’ and it is not an overstatement to say that this has been the most anticipated album in the sub-Saharan African metal and alternative community.

Formed by a group of friends during their time in university, Last Year’s Tragedy, often referred to as LYT, have cemented their place in the African metal community as being, without a shadow of doubt, one of the bands at the forefront of propelling the scene to greater heights. Over the years the band has amassed a cult-like following with fans from all over the globe. ‘Amongst Lions’ is a testament to the band’s sheer quality when it comes to songwriting and performance. The album which has been several years in the making was recorded at Andromeda Studios, a Kenyan based recording studio and record label which has played a major role in giving Kenyan alternative artists and bands the space to record and refine their music.

In terms of sound and musical direction, LYT have consistently been one of the few Kenyan metal bands that have produced music with a clear direction. In essence, you could argue that the band found its sound years ago, all they’ve done since then is refine it and place themselves in a position that allows them to stand out from all the white noise.

I often argue that what makes a particular record stand out are the little subtleties throughout the album. In the case of ‘Amongst Lions’, Last Year’s Tragedy have perfected the art of transitions, an element that many bands fail at. The transitions between hooks, breakdowns, verses etc is seamless and all the right elements come in at the right time. ’47’ and ‘In Medias Res’ are perhaps some of the better examples to highlight this.

Another highlight of the album is the trade off between the two vocalists in terms of the cleans and the screams; two very opposing styles of singing that, when approached with finesse, create a whole new auditory experience. Chizi, screams, and Ted, cleans, have found a near perfect partnership and their synergy throughout the album is undeniable. From a subjective perspective ‘Pounds For Flesh’ underscores this – sonically speaking the album is mixed and mastered to absolute perfection thanks to the brilliance of the Andromeda Studios team.

At times bands can let themselves down without investing enough time and effort in these areas but LYT have delivered an album that is miles ahead of many bands and artists within this genre, both regionally and internationally. The snare cuts through the mix perfectly and smacks you in the face, the bass resounds all throughout the record and the piano and synth work ties it all together by creating an encapsulating atmosphere that doesn’t overshadow the rest of the instrumentation.

8/10

Words: Djae Aroni

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