Review Summary: The eclectic offspring of Between the Buried and Me, Cynic, and The Contortionist.
If you ever wondered what if would be like if Between the Buried and Me, Cynic, and The Contortionist somehow had a baby as a result of a really gross threeway (actually more like a 12-way…), Last Chance to Reason is your answer. They combine the spastic refusing-to-play-the-same-riff-more-than-20-seconds style akin to The Silent Circus
-era BtBaM, plus the robotic Cynic cleans and an overall deathcore feel similar to that of The Contortionist. Intrinsic
is a reasonable comparison especially in the softer sections, but the difference is Last Chance to Reason make it sound natural, and more importantly, like they're having fun. Usually as farfetched as their ideas are, they never feel out of place or forced, and thankfully so, because this eclectic mixed bag of a songwriting approach works for them… for the most part.
Their second release Level 2
is a concept album about the relationship between man and technology. The few glimpses of the lyrics I caught during my listening were not very good and the song titles are asinine, but thankfully for them the focus is almost entirely on the music itself. There’s a lingering video game influence on the album, with some songs sounding dangerously similar to what you would hear on a trippy Atari game. At times it’s pulled off really well, other times not so much, but listening to this album is a pretty apt interpretation of the aural equivalent to a video game, and for that they deserve kudos.
As you can imagine their instrumental proficiency is excellent – hell, being comparable to Between the Buried and Me on any level is a huge compliment to their playing skills. The guitar and keyboard work in particular is incredible, but the most honorable mention here goes to vocalist Michael Lessard. The man can do it all – sing, growl, screech, and he knows when to know each one tastefully, often overlapping growls under robotic cleans for an eerily dark effect. Bassist Chris Corey is a powerhouse of his own, often having little solos to connect two sections or simply playing a melodic counterpoint to the guitars. The drums are no joke either, and by putting all these brilliant musicians in one band nothing could possibly go wrong, right?
Well, not exactly. Sometimes the spastic songwriting is a bit too much, especially the stop-start sections in ‘Coded to Fail’ which makes it sound like the audio is glitched and it gets downright annoying to listen to. Also the clean vocals in general aren’t anything special. Michael is an excellent harsh vocalist but has a very limited singing range, even with all the effects covering his pitch-issues. That’s about as far as I can go into negatives. Most experiments on Level 2
work, surprisingly well actually. ‘Upload Complete’ opens up the album with thriving ambition and aptly prepares the listener for the clusterfuck they’re about to experience, on top of having the best breakdown on the album. ‘Programmed for Battle’ is the best example of the pure ridiculousness of their ideas being melded together perfectly, and ‘Taking Control’ is a minute-and-a-half long progressive Cynic-like trance, driven by a beautiful bass line and futuristic keyboard effects. As a whole, Level 2
succeeds more than not. Although I wouldn’t put them above any of their [perhaps too obvious] influences, they’re definitely a forced to be reckoned with in the prog metal world.