Tuesday, January 27, 2015

LEVEL 10: "Chapter One"

Rating: RRRr
Label: Frontiers 2015
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Never judge a book by its cover? Fair enough. Let's try and erase the image a.s.a.p. and start reading 'Chapter One' by Level 10. Not to be confused with Level 42 as they have clearly been playing the game the longest and are up with 32, if my math is correct? Never mind the b.s. as the man behind this project reads Mat Sinner of Primal Fear and of course Sinner. The German is as always in control of production, bass-playing, and co-writing. U.S. vocalist Russell Allen (Symphony X, Allen/Lande, Adrenaline Mob) by the Sinner's side and the two are coming up with metal and hard rock in the style of Dio era Sabbath, Rainbow, Iommi/Hughes, and obviously the strong touch of both Primal Fear, Sinner, and some old fashioned power metal.

"If I dare to call you friend, would you stab me in the back?". It's an album that dabbles with the whole concept of light and dark(ness). It's the heavy yet melodic metal effort with the mighty mighty vocals of Allen at the centre of attention. They are building bridges and arrangements around the powerhouse vocalist and he alone is capable of turning the average tune to something better and much stronger. For instance, "Soul Of a Warrior", one of those formulas that you've heard a million times before by the likes of Sab, Dio, Jorn, etc. However, the singer grabs you by the throat and simply refuses to let go. Thus you (the listener) end up captivated by the sheer power of rock n roll.

Okay. There's hardly anything new or ground breaking music on this record. What more, a couple of tracks such as "Scream And Shout", a tad too much of the Stand Up and Shout (Dio) and not the enough of Level 10. But they are good at what they do and the result is still pleasing to these ears, even though they could need another superb tune or three. The two are blessed with the guest musicians of guitarists Roland Grapow (Helloween, Masterplan) and Alex Beyrodt (Primal Fear, Voodoo Circle), drummer Randy Black (Annihilator, Primal Fear) and keyboardist Alessandro Del Vecchio (Eden's Curse, Hardline), and it's a cracking little effort.

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