'Level 2' - Last Chance To Reason (8/10)
Disregarding the fact that it seems like every other melodic metal band with keyboards out there today is calling themselves 'progressive', the modern face of prog metal has been passed down to bands like Animals As Leaders, Periphery, and more recently, Last Chance To Reason. Here is a band that has only released their first major-label effort this year, and already shows plenty of promise for the years to come. Merging the sounds of a few progressive metal legends, Last Chance To Reason forms a sound that almost exclusively draws its influences from within the prog metal umbrella, and seeks to create something of an ultimate experience of the genre. As one might expect from this formula, there is little truly new that the band offers, but they do rather incredible things with what they have.
Seeing Last Chance To Reason live opening for Obscura demonstrated to me that this was a band who amazed on every front when it came to musical virtuosity. Apart from having one of the best mixed sounds I have ever heard in the live setting, each member brought something exciting and technical to the table. Last Chance To Reason's frontman Bob Delaney even proudly exclaims at the beginning of their set that they are 'progressive metal'. Sure enough, both the live performance and recording of this band tend to indicate that Delaney was making no understatement. It must be some feat in itself, but Last Chance To Reason manages to touch on virtually every cliche and convention of prog metal, save for a twenty minute epic. While I might be inclined to hate a band like this, the way in which the band executes it is far too well done for me to dismiss.
Musically, the primary influence I am hearing is Cynic, particularly their new, more song- based incarnation. The music is melodic, yet viciously technical, with time signatures being tossed around like pizza crust. The biggest similarity to Cynic are actually Bob Delaney's vocals, which are often clean and sound filtered through that Paul Masvidal vocorder thing that makes Cynic somewhat controversial among metal fans. The clean vocals work very well with the instrumentation; they bring melody to the table, but rarely get intense enough to distract. There are also growls here, but they don't work so well. Maybe the biggest conflict I have with the music of this band are their lyrics and concept. The body of the band's work revolves around video games, and apparently coincides with a larger project where this music is set to a video game. While it does not impede the technical proficiency of these players, the lyrics come off as cheesy and often reverting to technobabble, as opposed to poetic metaphors, and the sort of lyrics I most appreciate.
'Level 2' is a pretty amazing album in many regards, and while the band's influences are very clear even from the first listen, Last Chance To Reason's bombastic approach makes them recognizable and impressive. The drawbacks are few, but noticeable enough. All the same, I have no trouble believing that Last Chance To Reason's 'Level 3' (or whatever they will call their next album) will be a real hit, even moreso than this one. LC2R are a band to look out for.