Last Chance to Reason – Level 2

Last Chance to Reason is a progressive metal outfit hailing from Augusta, Maine. The band is heavily influenced not only by seminal prog-metallers Cynic, but also by, oddly enough, video games. Hearing this and being something of a gamer myself, as well as a fan of chiptunes, I was very eager to hear what this band had to offer on their sophomore outing, Level 2.

Level 2 is a wonderfully complex album. I have to say that it would’ve been easy for Last Chance to Reason to try to attract hordes of gaming nerds and metal fans alike by tossing in some 8-bit sound effects or nerdy buzzwords over some otherwise-generic music and call it a day, but instead you have a multi-layered opus with progressive, jazzy metal heavily influenced by the likes of Cynic and Meshuggah. The album is full of catchy yet still quite dissonant, technical riffs, but they temper this with their superb songwriting and interesting effects so as not to sound overly predjentious. (Please don’t call the Pun Police on me!)

Songs like “Upload Complete” and “Coded to Fail” showcase the group’s superb songwriting capabilities, with the latter track having some very haunting chants of “The virus spreads…” throughout the song. Level 2 also mixes things up with jazzy, clean interludes (“Portal”, “The Linear”) and also with catchy harmonies between growled and clean vocals (“Temp Files”).

Production-wise the album stands out as well, with just a hint of fuzziness through certain parts that, combined with Michael Lessard’s digitized voice, make you feel like you’ve been sucked into some sort of digital delirium. Also of note is the very cinematic feel to the album, which is fitting since it is a concept album that seems to be about a person sucked into the digital world and fighting for survival. Tracks oftentimes flow into each other so well that if you’re not watching your music player, you may not notice it’s a different track, but this definitely doesn’t mean things get boring.

Also of note is the fact that indie game developer Tom Vine has teamed up with the band to create a game for which the album will be the soundtrack. It’s a side-scrolling shooter in the vein of old-school classics like R-Type. More info on that can be found at the band’s WordPress here.

Overall, Level 2 is a excellent example of a modern spin on the concept albums that were so popular in the heyday of prog rock in the 70s, and also a superb specimen of what can be accomplished when combining multiple mediums to form one work of art (in this case, video games and music.) I highly recommend this album to gamers and metalheads alike.

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Welcome , today is Thursday, July 14, 2011