What do you think of when you see this cover art? The amorphous, infrared marble cloud shambling through the dark of a cold, mysterious forest evokes something equally alien and familiar, toying with the age-old anachronism of light and dark. This is all by design of course. Led by guitarist and visual director Andrew Notsch (ex-Sunless, Manipulator), This Is The Last Time is an artists' collective exploring duality and movement through instrumental metal, formed through the COVID lockdown and recorded individually by its members across the States.
Claiming lineage from bands like Isis, Year of No Light, In Flames, Between The Buried And Me, Gorguts, and Pelican, This is the Last Time borrow from a wide range of beloved styles to forge a layered, atmospheric four-track dive into prog metal and its many expressions. On "Ipanema Blue", Notsch says:
After establishing the sound and intention behind the album, and after months of being essentially trapped in a tiny Manhattan apartment with 24/7 sirens around us (with otherwise empty roads), this song represented that first glimmer of hope going into spring / summer of 2020 when everyone was slowly emerging from their homes and spending time in the sun in places other than their fire escapes. The chorus is a throwback to that perfect summer walk through a field of flowers or through any number of busy areas of NYC where the buzz of activity around you and the smells and excitement of the city flows through you. The interlude of the song was a straight homage to Barn Owl, and Taylor brought so much to this part with his hand drum work. The song rockets back into action when Steve brings his technical solo work to the forefront and really brings that guitar to life. The synth line towards the end of the song is the most happy-go-lucky part I’ve ever written for a band; it just leaves me smiling every time. This song is happy and calm enough to share with even non metal fans, but still packs enough speed and blast beats to satisfy that need for aggressive music.