Heavy metal musicians, vocalist Russell Allen (Symphony X) and bassist Mat Sinner (Sinner, Primal Fear, et al) have wanted to work together for some time. Our good friends over at Frontiers Music got the wheel turning and the project took shape. Allen and Sinner are joined by some of the hottest names in European metal: Primal Fear mates, drummer Randy Black and guitarist Alex Beyrodt, with guitarist Roland Grapow (ex-Helloween) and keyboard player Alessandro Del Vecchio (Eden's Curse, Voodoo Circle). The band is called Level 10 and the album is Chapter One, hopefully an omen of more to come.
The Allen/Sinner approach is straightforward: write and arrange strong songs in a melodic heavy metal context, allowing Allen's voice to revisit a traditional hard rock/metal sound. Perhaps the most applicable description, in one word, for the music within Chapter One is heavy. After a first listen, I wanted to toss about a "melodic hard rock" classification. But between the bold and sharp guitar riffs and Sinner and Blacks pummeling bottom end this is definitely a "heavy metal" album. And if it weren't for the strength of his voice and Sinner's expert production skill, Allen might not rise above the onslaught. Yet, he does.
What Level 10 is not, is Symphony X; this is not a progressive heavy metal in any sense. It could be called heavier and a shade darker which would fit some of Symphony X's recent material, but this is not prog. Call it some blistering baby of Primal Fear and Beyrodt's Voodoo Circle.
Alternatively, while this is not melodic hard rock, the band does offer some songs with some serious groove and natural rock catchiness. Three are Last Man On Earth, mighty catchy, Cry No More, and Scream and Shout. That last song might remind of certain other singer and band, DIO. Some songs are simply, even unnaturally plodding, heavy metal like Voice Of The Wilderness and the almost torturous Soul of a Warrior. Alternatively, there's All Hope Is Gone, a heavy metal anthem or such. It moves at a slow to moderate pace, but lifted by the harmonious vocal arrangement, chorus, and the sprinkling of piano. It's both heavy and the lightest song here. Mostly, however, the album is a metal album throughout, with some power metal tossed in for good measure like nearly the whole of Demonized and parts of Blasphemy, by example.
Bottom line: for a long awaited collaboration between Allen and Sinner, Chapter One is a promising start, some blistering melodic metal from some of the best talent in the game. The album is certainly much better than the minor tragedy that was the latest Allen-Lande project.
For a long awaited collaboration between vocalist Russell Allen and Matt Sinner, Chapter One is a promising start, some blistering melodic metal from some of the best talent in game.
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