Saturday, 24 January 2015

Level 10 - Chapter One (Japanese Edition) (2015)

Genre - Melodic Metal
Label - AVALON / MARQUEE Japan
Track listing:
01 - Cry No More
02 - Soul Of A Warrior
03 - When The Nighttime Comes
04 - One Way Street
05 - Blasphemy
06 - Last Man On Earth
07 - In For The Kill
08 - Voice Of The Wilderness
09 - All Hope Is Gone
10 - Demonized
11 - The Soul Is Eternal
12 - Forevermore
13 - All Hope Is Gone (Acoustic Version) *
* Japan Only Bonus Track

Level 10 features vocalist Russell Allen (Symphony X, Adrenaline Mob), bassist Mat Sinner (Primal Fear, Sinner), guitarist Roland Grapow (Masterplan, ex-Helloween), guitarist Alex Beyrodt (Silent Force, Primal Fear), drummer Randy Black (ex-Primal Fear) and keyboardist Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline, Voodoo Circle, et all).
As if that weren’t enough, the album also boasts guest appearances from Magnus Karlsson, Carsten Schulz, Sander Gommans and Amanda Somerville. This is 'top shelf' talent in every spot, so expectations are quite high for the band’s debut, appropriately titled "Chapter One".

In terms of overall style, Level 10 sounds exactly like you’d expect it to given the players involved: this is catchy melodic metal somewhere between Primal Fear, Sinner and Allen-Lande.
However, there's more groovy material in between: “Soul Of A Warrior”, the ballad “All Hope Is Gone” and “One Way Street” sound like they came off a Rocky Soundtrack. Ok, maybe that’s a stretch, but that’s the feeling I got. These songs' foundation are in the '80s Hard Rock / AOR vein, done now with heavier guitars and more balls.
Of course there’s certainly a 'Metal' edge and a dark side to some songs as well like “Blasphemy” and “Demonized”, but the motto in "Chapter One" is catchiness.

Given the players involved, you know what you can expect from each position on the album. The guitar work is impeccable, merging heavy and melodic sides perfectly.
The rhythms show just how much chemistry Sinner and Black have together, and of course Russell Allen sounds like the vocal titan he is. We hear a lot of the more melodic side of his voice from the Allen-Lande collaborations, but there is also a good dose of 'Angry Russell' plenty of power.
There isn’t a single individual performance that you could find fault with here.

On paper "Chapter One" should be one of the albums of the year. In reality it’s a really good rocking album that at the end of the day isn’t equal to the sum of its parts. As good as it is to have these stellar performers in one place, the songwriting – good as it is – perhaps isn’t up to the task.
Don't get me wrong, "Chapter One" is a completely enjoyable album and one that grabs your interest throughout, but there are no instant classics here that you know you’ll be listening to a decade later, like you do with Allen-Lande songs, as example.
Again, this is a really strong album, and Level 10 sounds awesome as unit. I just miss that 'memorable' tune.

Rating - 9/10

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