Mat Sinner is at it yet again and as per usual he’s included some of his friends. The German bassist, probably most recognized from his namesake band Sinner, Primal Fear and Voodoo Circle among several others, has banded together with vocalist Russell Allen (Symphony X/Adrenaline Mob) for this new project entitled Level 10. The album Chapter One, features guitarist Roland Grapow (ex-Helloween/Masterplan/Serious Black), guitarist Alex Beyrodt (Voodoo Circle/Primal Fear/Sinner), Canadian drummer Randy Black (ex-Primal Fear) and keyboardist Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline/Bailey/Voodoo Circle) as the players assembled by Sinner, but it doesn’t stop there! Also contributing assistance in the songwriting department are Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear/Allen-Lande), Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear/Gamma Ray), Johann Fiegl, Carsten Schulz (Evidence One), Sander Gommans (HDK) and Amanda Sommerville (Kiske-Sommerville/HDK). The album is set for issue on January 23, 2015 (January 27, 2015 in North America) via Frontiers Records.
My immediate thought was at how aptly named this “supergroup” was, as before we reached 30 seconds into the opening song of “Cry No More” I was already adjusting the volume level in a northerly direction, not quite to level 10 yet though. Melodic yet loaded with feisty riffs and peppered with solos, “Cry No More” is an awesome song through and through. “Soul of a Warrior” sits in the second slot and seems to be a bit darker, a song I like more and more with each spin. “No Turning Back” thunders out of the gate with a pounding/driving beat. Del Vecchio leads off “One Way Street” with some haunting keyboards before the guitars explode with meaty riffage in this more bluesy flavored cut. The more symphonic metal sounds that “Blasphemy” lends are not particularly a favorite style of mine. That being said, this track and lead single is growing on me the more times I digest it. “Last Man On Earth”, the sole track under four minutes runtime, doesn’t offer anything overly exciting but does maintain the album’s pace. The energy and volume level ramp up again, this time with the barrage of “Scream & Shout” but the plodding pace of “Voices of the Wilderness” is less than memorable and therefore sinks this one into the bottom of the barrel of Chapter One. Personally, not being a ballad fan there’s nothing for me in “All Hope Is Gone” whatsoever, but the following cut, “Demonized”, is quite the opposite! The track has quickly become one of my currently most played with a chugging main guitar riff, wicked solo, piercing vocals and some pounding double bass drum. “Soul Is Eternal” once again fires on all cylinders for another strong cut, as is “Forevermore” serving as the twelfth and final inclusion of Chapter One.
With “Cry No More” and “Demonized” being truly fantastic cuts and my top picks for Chapter One, the whole album plays fairly well. That being said however, if it were shortened to 10 tracks as opposed to the 12, dropping “Voices of the Wilderness” and “All Hope Is Gone” the album would be a total killer for me! As it is, it’s still an early entry in the race for my top albums of 2015! A Meister score of 8/10.