Last Chance to Reason – Level 3 (Prosthetic)

Sunday, 28th July 2013
Rating: 7/10

Last Chance to Reason’s third full-length album, aptly titled Level 3, is a study in progressive metal that finds the Augusta, Maine natives traversing some relatively uncharted territory while still maintaining the same panache that the band has come to be known for. As with previous efforts, Lvl. 1 and Level 2, the band uses video game concepts to craft their melodic mash of metalcore and prog. LCTR’s resilience has been tested since their inception, having suffered through multiple line-up changes, most notably losing guitarist Thomas Waterhouse and keyboardist Brian Palmer shortly after the release of their second effort.

Still, the Maine-iacs soldier on, and Level 3 shows no sign of the group of slowing down. Leaving some of their more proggy elements behind, this release seems a bit more focused on crafting tightly-knit songs, rather than noodling around for the fun of it – though that’s not to say the album is not a fun listen.

Opener “Rebirth” wastes little time throwing the hammer down, pummeling the listener with double-bass kicks and some remarkable guitar textures before vocalist Michael Lessard chimes in with layered, harmonious vocals that have a fascinating juxtaposition with the heaviness of the music itself. Purists, don’t fret – as he eventually channels his inner Cookie Monster, displaying an impressive range with both his clean and dirty vocals, which almost sound robotic at times. Lessard has an interesting sound, almost as if Cedric Bixler-Zavala (At the Drive-In, The Mars Volta) decided he wanted to become a metal vocalist.

The formidable dual attack of axemen AJ Harvey and Mike Abdow is impressive throughout the album, with the latter replacing the aforementioned Waterhouse and adding virtuosic solos that would make even Steve Vai envious. The rhythm section – comprised of bassist Chris Corey and drummer Evan Sammons – holds everything together within the dynamics of each of the ten tracks. “Cosmos-The Pattern Forms” exhibits deep, bass-driven grooves, while the finale “Transcendence” kicks off with dynamic synth layers before giving way to an atmospheric outro reminiscent of Isis or Palms.

For those that like Between the Buried and Me and Protest the Hero, LCTR doesn’t break any new ground from what their contemporaries have already done, but there are enough interesting aspects to Level 3 to please fans old and new.

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