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Album Review: LAST CHANCE TO REASON Level 3

Posted by on July 30, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Following their epic adventures in the video game concept album Level 2, Last Chance To Reason are back, and they are taking us to the most logical next step in their careers. They are taking us to… Level 3!

The musical growth between Lvl. 1 and Level 2 is astounding. It was almost as if a completely different band arose. While, there wasn't as drastic of a jump between Level 2 and Level 3, the same quality of music remains.

Level 3 is not the band reinventing its own wheel, but rather everything that worked in 2011 being pushed to the forefront. There are awkward time signatures, drastic mood shifts, tight orchestration, and moments that send the listener into a digital abyss. See? It’s everything fans loved already, but more so… or something.

“Rebirth” is a fitting way to begin the album, although It may seem cliché to do so. Many bands do something like this, but the band entered the studio missing half of their last recorded line-up. So, it really was a rebirth, or maybe a half-rebirth.

Level 2 had some atmospheric elements to it for sure, but there are even more Cynic-esque guitar patterns and vocal melodies. Frontman Michael Lessard even seems to be taking a page out of the recent works of Between the Buried and Me’s Thomas Giles Rogers Jr, and showcasing his clean voice much more here. The anti-clean vocal crowd might be turned off by this fact, but then again they aren’t big on the whole prog metal scene in general.

I spent much of the first chunk of Level 3 trying to place who Lessard’s refined singing voice reminds me of, it finally hit me during “Adrift II- A Vision Ends.” He sounds a lot like the former-Dance Gavin Dance singer Jonny Craig. Now, before you readers grab your pitchforks and form a mob that will hunt me down because I just named dropped that post-hardcore band in a positive light, there’s something you should know. DGD are pretty terrible overall, but Craig has a phenomenal voice, so this is actually a compliment to Lessard’s work.

“The Escapist” was a fitting first single for the album. It is the most melodic vocally, while remaining one of the heaviest musically. In the context of the full-length it fits perfectly juxtaposed along-side the track that follows, “The Dictator.” This is the heaviest track on the album, and features a surprisingly Emperor-like feel to much of it.

Actually, the entire latter half of the album (from “The Escapist” on) is incredibly strong, because “The Dictator” then leads into the elevated and grand song, “The Artist.” This is the strongest one-two punch of the album that shows the band in both its heaviest and most melodic states.

Following “Awaiting,” which is Lessard and a lone guitar in an echoing void, the album comes to a crescendo in “Transcendence.”

Following recent news regarding Lessard’s involvement with The Contortionist, Level 3 is almost a sad album as a fan. Following a tour with Evan Brewer, the band is going to go on the back burner and become a side-project for its remaining members. Bassist Chris Corey is going to go be a dad, while Evan Sammons is going to be busy some other way. Maybe this isn’t a bad thing. Perhaps taking some time away from the band with enable Last Chance To Reason to figure out why they can’t hold on to their members. Newish guitarist Mike Abdow and founding guitarist AJ Harvey both left at the completion of Level 3.

While, I wouldn’t say the band is stagnating, Level 3 is basically just a continuation of Level 2, again, not a bad thing. Just those looking for more evidence of forward progress for this progressive metal band, might be disappointed to find Level 3 feeling more like a Level 2 –Disc 2.

7.5/10

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Last Chance To Reason and Evan Brewer's tour kicks off later this month, peep the dates here.

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