In Binary

As the market for video game soundtracks become an increasingly lucrative option for musicians, Maine prog-metal sextet Last Chance to Reason take an opposite approach with their second LP Level 2.

It's a concept album, telling the story of a self-aware computer fighting its way through an apocalyptic virtual reality. As an expansion to this theme, the band made a video game  as companion to the record. Skulls and strange creatures fly at your blaster-gun armed character against a scrolling background, making it the most metal bonus content this reviewer has ever seen. It's a pretty smart tactic when paying for digital music alone is an increasingly tough sell.

Sporatic synth leads are often doubled by hot, distorted guitar over grooving rhythm riffs. Most of this record is heavy shredding, making the softer parts stand out in beautiful contrast. Towards the end of the record, "The Linear" lets some clean guitar sounds through, setting the stage for the climactic album closers "The Prototype" and "Apotheosis."

This record does make a great soundtrack for blowing up pixelated bad guys, but it easily stands alone as a coherent piece of artistic metal. Each track morphs into the next, making it one piece meant to be heard from front to back. They conjure up images of prog giants Cynic with careful use of vocoded singing mixed with redlining lows, although lead singer Mike Lessard pulls off effects-free singing at the album's softest moments too.

"Technology did not bring them peace" is the message of this high-tech tragedy, buried within the tech-death riffs and blistering drum fills. With crisp production and ample artistic vision, Last Chance to Reason deliver something fresh and dynamic, all too rare within the genre.

The Linear[audio]