Level 10 – Chapter One
Release date: January 27, 2015
I used to tell my sister that Friday the 13th was an unlucky day because she was born on it. No wonder she has not spoken to me in years. And tomorrow is of course the time we celebrate “VD” and most likely STD’s as well…and it is when I serenade my beloved with a rendition of “Round and Round” by Ratt. You are correct I am not a romantic, but I used to sing “I hate myself for loving you” by Joan Jett so it’s an improvement.
To round out the weekend we have Presidents Day where apparently we celebrate “Dead Presidents” not of the musical kind ….So here’s to Bloody horror films, Love, Sex and Chocolate, and a day where you can get a heck of a car deal!
So the perfect gift for this holiday weekend is the recently released monster by super duo Level 10 which features Adrenaline Mob and Symphony X frontman Russell Allen, and Primal Fear (plus 5 other bands) bassist, Mat Sinner. Allen has been busy of late, releasing last year’s Allen/Lande album, bookended by two Adrenaline Mob offerings, and he is currently working on the new Symphony X release. I believe Level 10 pre-dates all of those, as it has been sitting in the wings waiting for release for quite some time. The rest of the line-up is pretty impressive as well, featuring Sinner’s partner in crime, guitar virtuoso Alex Beyrodt (Primal Fear, Voodoo Circle, Silent Force), guitarist Roland Grapow (Masterplan, Serious Black, ex-Helloween), drummer Randy Black (ex-Primal Fear, ex-Annihilator), and keyboardist Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline, Voodoo Circle, Silent Force).
Chapter One seems to be a bit of a mixed bag on its own overall. Accompanied by songwriters of a higher caliber, it should by all accounts be an easy feat to make an unbelievable album. Unfortunately, the great songs are intermingled with a few clichés, over dramatic lyrics and forced “Hey look at us were kool” moments and a couple of completely forgettable songs. By the way, (another reviewer throws the phrase “over the top” around and let me remind you that can be a double-edged sword, if you catch my drift.)
There are, however wonderful vocal harmonies at times, namely “Cry No More” and then the complete opposite on “Voice of the Wilderness”, which in parts almost smacks of some stage play revival of “Jesus Christ Superstar” (Glad to see the cast has found new work…Good for them). Just, (and only my opinion mind you), doesn’t seem to fully mesh well with the tune.
We do get glimpses of greatness with Allen’s muscular vocal deliveries and some spectacular fretwork from Grapow and Beyrodt. In fact, all of the individual performances are, as one might expect, top-notch. The production by Sinner is flawless. The lead off track, “Cry No More”, has a ballsier Whitesnake meets Dio vibe, and the lyrics are a bookend to Adrenaline Mob’s “Dearly Departed”.
Low points….Not a big fan of the tune “Scream and Shout” as the intro left me with a sort of “Rock Lobster on steroids” aftertaste. And if you are hankering to be tossed into the deep pit of desperation and doom…listen to “All Hope is Gone.” Which is just too much, so depressing, no subtlety, halfway through I was looking for drain cleaner and a rope… “All hope is gone there is nowhere to run…”….SHIT! Give it a rest…
However the fine balance returns when we are given bright spots that came in the form of “One Way Street” and my favorite, “Blasphemy”, an epic in its very nature, and I love a good epic tune…near the end of it I get a definite Metallica vibe and it’s much welcomed…Other notable gems are “The Soul is Eternal” and “Demonized” (reminds me Anton Lavays’ birthday is coming up in April…).
All in all, much like this weekend at times it doesn’t really seem to make sense, but then again it does…in its chaos and sometimes disjointedness, we are given a clear view of what life really is. Not neat and wrapped up in a bow…It’s messy, often has no rhyme or reason and can leave us with a wonder of “what’s next”…and that is what makes it beautiful.
I give it one machete, a box of chocolates (mainly nuts and chews), a bouquet of dead roses and a fender off of a Buick Regal ….(make of that what you will, I have to call um as I sees um) …Entity says check it out…