heavy metal

Review: Level 10 – Chapter One

Location: International (United States/Germany)
Genre: Heavy/Melodic metal, hard rock
Released: January 27, 2015
Format Reviewed: FLAC
Feature: Global Conquest – Recent Releases

By: Kris Kotlarik

Remember when Russell Allen was universally respected as the lead singer of Symphony X, a band that is capable of writing 23-minute songs about The Odyssey and an entire album about the perils of our society being overly dependent on technology? Let’s just say his reputation has taken a bit of a hit recently.

When he’s not putting together solid-to-amazing bandmates, he can be seen collaborating with the masturbatory Jorn in the soulless Allen-Lande project. There’s also the disaster that is Adrenaline Mob, a band that was terrible to begin with and has only gotten worse with each release.

The 2015 version of mediocre Allen comes in the form of Level 10, a collaboration between Allen and Mat Sinner, as well as various members of the German power metal band Primal Fear. And when I say this is mediocre, I am not exaggerating. This is run-of-the-mill heavy metal with some decent vocals behind it, but it often teeters on the edge of excessive cheese. “All Hope Is Gone,” for example, is a Sonata Arctica ballad in disguise.

The only songs that stood out in a positive way for me were “Demonized” and “When the Nighttime Comes,” both for various riffs that had potential but weren’t explored upon further. “Voice of the Wilderness” has some interesting vocal parts from what might be an outside choir that warrant several more listens. Everything else about this is completely forgettable.

Please, for the love of Krishna, get back to Symphony X.

Overall: This is what I think of when I picture music that I could listen to in the car if the only other option was listening to 107.5 or 106.7. Not familiar with Columbus radio stations? Don’t look them up. 

Rating: 1.0*


Review: Acid Drinkers – 25 Cents For A Riff

Location: Poznań, Poland
Genre: Heavy/Thrash Metal
Released: October 6, 2014
Format Reviewed: FLAC
Feature: Global Conquest – Recent Releases

By: Kris Kotlarik

Acid Drinkers has been around for 28 years, and they haven’t taken much time off, having released an impressive sixteen albums during that span. Two of those albums are cover albums, and they almost take on Me First & The Gimme Gimmes‘ level of genre mismatching in their covers. “Love Shack” as a thrash metal cover just does not work, although I give them props for trying, probably because of their Polish accents. In all seriousness, some of these covers were actually good, although Dragonforce recently upstaged them on “Ring Of Fire.” They also turned “Hit The Road Jack” into something of an Alestorm-esque drinking song with a solid video.

Anyway, this have won three Fryderyk Awards (the Polish Grammys) for “Best Hard & Heavy Act” on their own material, and on the basis of 25 Cents For A Riff, it’s not hard to see why. This group takes a series of different heavy metal aspects and puts them together to form an interesting blend of thrash metal that doesn’t feel like a thrash metal album, and I’m guessing that’s the sort of thing that gets respected in Poland, a country that knows a thing or two about heavy metal.

There’s a lot to like about this album; the influences, which range from post-Black Album Metallica to shades of The Sword and some stuff out of that spectrum, are plentiful and take several listens to pick them up. The problem here is that later on, the album starts to wear on the listener. On a per-song basis, most of this album is quite solid, but it doesn’t pack the requisite punch to keep the listener engaged for the full 52+ minutes. There’s quite a bit to like, between the thrashier tracks of “God Hampered His Life,” and the surprisingly high-tuned “Don’t Drink Evil Things.” My favorite track, at least from a music standpoint, might be “Me,” which sounds like one of the bonus tracks from Star One‘s debut album, but there’s too much vocal repetition for this to be a sustainable track.

I think the best all-around track on here is “Chewed Alive,” a mid-tempo thrasher which boasts a catchy riff and some of the best vocal work on this album, especially in the pre-chorus. There’s also a nice solo in here. But from the next track onward, the tracks start blending together and nothing really stands out. On the bright side, there’s a lot of interesting but short bass grooves to look out for, and the vocal work is diverse enough to at least give the listener something to look out for.

Overall: The musicianship is solid, but there is too much filler. Would have been better if some tracks (especially the closer) were cut. 

Rating: 3.0*