Last Chance to Reason is a progressive metal band from Maine that combines heavy riffs with technical and progressive elements to create a very dense sound that is based in large part on the experience of playing video games. The band has released an EP titled Dreamt of an Angel, Woke with a Nightmare, a full length, titled Level 1, and now are back with another full length titled Level 2 on Prosthetic Records. The album is intended to go along with a game by indie developer Tom Vine, though I have not seen the game yet, which would be excellent to give a concept album like this a proper review. This is very dense and thematic progressive music with a good bit of aggressive riffing thrown in for good measure. The theme of the album is from the point of view of the protagonist in the game, and the flow of the album reflects that idea. I would say it’s like one long track, but that implies negatives; repetition, etc. and would be a great injustice, it’s better to think of it like a really good game, like a long adventure you take with your ears and brain.
Musically the album is a technical masterpiece, the off time signatures and guitars call to mind Meshuggah or older Candiria. A.J. Harvey and Thomas Waterhouse seamlessly create huge landscapes and shred through them at will with as little wankery as the genre allows. The vocals of Michael Lessard ( I want to call him Commandant… ten points if you can guess the reference even though it’s spelled a little differently) remind me alternately of Cynic and Opeth, smooth and flowing at one moment, aggressive and growl-y at another. The rest of the band provide backing vocals to fill out the tracks. Chris Corey is an excellent bassist, and not only because you can actually hear him. Corey’s tone reminds me a little of Dan Briggs, but the real killer part is that he writes excellent lines and shreds with mastery, which is not something you see in the metal world enough. Evan Sammons is one of those drummers who writes drum parts as part of the song and not just as a background metronome. He has great technical mastery and a strong ability to deliver surprising parts that do not sound out of place with the rest of the music, unlike Lars Ulrich, who has ruined even old Metallica for me. The keys are handled by Brian Palmer, who, like the rest of the band and not like Lars Ulrich, is a very talented musician and not just a noise maker or some hot chick in black spandex in a goth band who drones one note through a song about being sad because the devil doesn’t love you back. Mr. Palmer writes great parts that do not supplant the bass or fight with the guitar and the keys are an equal contributor to the music as a result.
Overall Level 2 is an amazing progressive metal album that has caused me to go in search of the companion game and also to seek out the band’s other material. Last Chance to Reason also prove, once again, that Maine is awesome. If you are even a little bit into video games and like progressive and technical metal, Level 2 is a must have.