Level 10 - Chapter One

Level 10 Chapter One cover
Level 10
Chapter One
Frontiers Music Srl
Coming hot on the trails of an Allen/Lande collaboration album, we also seem to get separate projects, by both Jorn Lande and Russell Allen.
In the case of Russell Allen, it’s one of those bizarre projects, done at the whim of Frontier’s president Serafino Perugino, who brought together Allen and Primal Fear’s Matt Sinner (shouldn’t be too difficult as both have done projects for Frontiers) with the intention to create an album of modern power metal.
Primal Fear members Randy Black (on drums) and Alex Beyrodt (on guitar) are featured on the project and Roland Grapow (Masterplan, ex-Helloween) and Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline, Voodoo Circle) complete the line-up on lead guitar and keyboards respectively. Usual songwriting, partners, that have been in the past responsible for various projects, also seem to offer their contributions here: Magnus Karlsson, Carsten Schulz, Ralf Scheepers, Johann Fiegl, Sander Gommans and Amanda Somerville.
All these, collaborations, are not entirely bad, at least, when they “hit home”, but on the other hand, it’s somewhat tiresome to see some musicians involving themselves more in projects other than their main bands. It sort of spreads them thin by over saturating the scene with material which is not always necessarily up to par.
But let’s have a look on Level 10’s debut, “Chapter One”. (Which eludes to a sequel if this proves to be a success… I suppose...)
The opener “Cry No More” seems to rip a generic, Whitesnake riff and upon it build a melodic hard rocker, that blooms in a chorus that’s more melodic power metal rather than hard rock… an interesting opener, but certainly not a song to lose your head over, with a very nice performance by Allen, who however seems to be just warming up.
“Soul of a Warrior” drops the speed several notches and comes in with muscular riff, over which Allen soaringly sings a very cool and catchy chorus, that owes a lot to Scandi rock. I’m sure, all those Jorn collaboration albums did rub off…
“When the Nighttime Comes/No Turning Back” seems like a decent attempt to go for a middle of the road hard rocker, with the bridge-prechorus, being possibly the best portion of the song which could have been a little better edited.
“One Way Street” tries to accommodate, the more modern influences, with its very rhythmical style, while you can’t blame it, (the ideas and performance are good) it passes, but doesn’t really “touch”.
“Blasphemy” is really heavy and has a few interesting moments, but it’s mostly its melodic chorus that saves it from being sloppy and boring... again Allen is good, but seems to have lost a bit of the majesty of his old days… he has more experience, but he’s nowhere as “bright” as he used to be in the past... obviously it’s something that happens with age, I suppose...
“Last Man on Earth” is a vastly different song, a lot more melodic, with a persistent riff a hard and heavy atmosphere, with slight prog inclinations, overall a welcome change… while the quality of the songs selected/written, for the project is not “bad”, this one feels a cut above... even if that chorus is a little suspect...
“In for the Kill” starts with a rifficulous Helloween rip-off of “I Want Out” and while it’s got a catchy chorus and all, it’s not exactly that great… (Next stop: “Future World”!)
“Voice of the Wilderness” is a decent melodic, slightly prog inclined number, that has a persistent riff that generates a feeling of urgency that’s reinforced by some “gospel-like” chants in the middle. Interesting...
“All Hope is Gone” is a nice ballad and I am willing to bet, this is mainly the doing of Del Vecchio. Allen elevates it with a really nice performance to quite memorable as is the solo towards the end.
“Demonized” is as one would have expected a hard hitting power metal moment, that initially feels pretty generic, but has a rather smart and quirky change of pace in its chorus. The solos add to its variety and help it from becoming stagnant. I suppose if Allen would attempt a shriek at the end – that would really be fitting and Demonic like... but alas...
“The Soul is Eternal”, by title alone eludes to something, 70s rock, like and I suppose, that prediction is not entirely wrong, as it's another number that could have very easily belonged in one of those “Allen/Lande” albums, sung by Allen but a little more rock inspired.
Last but not least “Forevermore” (no, not a cover of the Whitesnake crown-jewel) but a rather ominous yet strangely melodic number, that’s also quite heavy and quite frankly repetitive when it comes to the chorus department... not bad, but a weird choice for an album closer.
Another “project” from Frontiers… well it’s got a certain degree of quality, because of the people involved in it delivering matching performances, on a couple of occasions makes you raise an eyebrow, offers a couple of real good moments and a lot more than decent ones, but overall doesn’t manage to convince that it’s something that’s worth reminiscing about.