Level 2.0 - Battle Sight Zer0
EBM, Futurepop When you go through a bad personal patch, you either lose yourself completely, and end up turning to Drink/Drugs/Vices, or you make the best damned record of your career.

Mike Hoffman chose to do the latter. Having broken up with the love of his life, and having to watch Matt (the other member of Level 2.0) go off to Iraq, it's easy to see why he could have just given up.
Instead, he chose to follow up "Armageddon", with "Battle Sight Zero" - possibly the first album in the scene to be recorded and created while at War in Iraq.

We'll pick off where "Armageddon" left off, with "Individual" - an immediately catchy track, full of the hooks and beats that make Futurepop as relevant in 2011 as it was in 2002.

One thing I've always liked about Level 2.0 is the fact that it is very possible to make excellent Futurepop without having to fill every 30 seconds of your album with Arpeggiators. There's a more disciplined and battle-trodden strictness to the music that Mike and Matt record together - a testament to the duo's familiarity with War and Military lifestyles.

"Testament", Ironically, is the second track on here, and in the vein of earlier works, proves that you cannot corner Level 2.0 into sounding like a single genre - 'Futurepop' is the term most often banded around, but there's just as much Industrial and EBM influences here, and Mike's hardened vocals have always given cause for fans of Decoded Feedback and Imperative Reaction to flock towards Level 2.0, as much as fans of VNV Nation and Colony 5.

It's quite obvious that this album is a memoir to music - a survivors handbook to personal disturbances, and hardships - with titles such as "Victim", "The Sound of Goodbye" and "Abandon", Mike shows us that it's not unorthdox to make darker music of this calibre - whereas VNV's Ronan and Mark before us have introduced us to anthems of hope, shaping the world, and the occasional ballad, Mike and Matt have adapted their lyrics and ideas to portray a bleaker picture of the world in 2011, but like all albums should, there's always that glimmer of hope :

"We're gonna survive, We're gonna Win" is taken from the title track, and I find myself wondering if this isn't as much a tale of Matt's experiences in Iraq, as other tracks are a reconstruction of recent months in Mike's life.

The previously mentioned "Sound of Goodbye" is a slightly slower piece, and we all know that every album in the Futurepop style needs at least 2 of these - fortunately it meets the usual standards.

There's something bittersweet about living through other people's pain, and although it would be stupid, ignorant, and wrong of me to compare this album to Joy Divison's "Closer", it's the only way I can think of of measuring the inspiration behind this album.

Throughout the 13 tracks here, there's a consistency and passion that cannot be questioned, but my criticism is that the album just doesn't quite sound right. This could be a problem with my £20 speakers, but the vocals aren't amazingly clear - however, I can make out the lyrics for the most part, and they're as touching and sorrowful as they are uplifting and positive in other areas. Mind you, if you've heard Level 2.0 at all, you won't be expecting vocals like Colony 5 in the first place.

To sum up this release, I'm personally delighted that the ideas and time taken to make this have paid off.

Lyrically, we're onto something deeply soulseeking, and there will be moments here that pull at the Heartstrings of you all. Musically, there's a darkness that re-inforces the concept, and when you're writing Synth from a base in the Middle East, you can't really put out something perky and bouncy.

Finally, this album has some excellent artwork. Congratulations, guys.
4
Brutal Resonance

Level 2.0 - Battle Sight Zer0

8.0
"Great"
N/A
Electroracle
Spotify
Released 2011 by Nilaihah Records
When you go through a bad personal patch, you either lose yourself completely, and end up turning to Drink/Drugs/Vices, or you make the best damned record of your career.

Mike Hoffman chose to do the latter. Having broken up with the love of his life, and having to watch Matt (the other member of Level 2.0) go off to Iraq, it's easy to see why he could have just given up.
Instead, he chose to follow up "Armageddon", with "Battle Sight Zero" - possibly the first album in the scene to be recorded and created while at War in Iraq.

We'll pick off where "Armageddon" left off, with "Individual" - an immediately catchy track, full of the hooks and beats that make Futurepop as relevant in 2011 as it was in 2002.

One thing I've always liked about Level 2.0 is the fact that it is very possible to make excellent Futurepop without having to fill every 30 seconds of your album with Arpeggiators. There's a more disciplined and battle-trodden strictness to the music that Mike and Matt record together - a testament to the duo's familiarity with War and Military lifestyles.

"Testament", Ironically, is the second track on here, and in the vein of earlier works, proves that you cannot corner Level 2.0 into sounding like a single genre - 'Futurepop' is the term most often banded around, but there's just as much Industrial and EBM influences here, and Mike's hardened vocals have always given cause for fans of Decoded Feedback and Imperative Reaction to flock towards Level 2.0, as much as fans of VNV Nation and Colony 5.

It's quite obvious that this album is a memoir to music - a survivors handbook to personal disturbances, and hardships - with titles such as "Victim", "The Sound of Goodbye" and "Abandon", Mike shows us that it's not unorthdox to make darker music of this calibre - whereas VNV's Ronan and Mark before us have introduced us to anthems of hope, shaping the world, and the occasional ballad, Mike and Matt have adapted their lyrics and ideas to portray a bleaker picture of the world in 2011, but like all albums should, there's always that glimmer of hope :

"We're gonna survive, We're gonna Win" is taken from the title track, and I find myself wondering if this isn't as much a tale of Matt's experiences in Iraq, as other tracks are a reconstruction of recent months in Mike's life.

The previously mentioned "Sound of Goodbye" is a slightly slower piece, and we all know that every album in the Futurepop style needs at least 2 of these - fortunately it meets the usual standards.

There's something bittersweet about living through other people's pain, and although it would be stupid, ignorant, and wrong of me to compare this album to Joy Divison's "Closer", it's the only way I can think of of measuring the inspiration behind this album.

Throughout the 13 tracks here, there's a consistency and passion that cannot be questioned, but my criticism is that the album just doesn't quite sound right. This could be a problem with my £20 speakers, but the vocals aren't amazingly clear - however, I can make out the lyrics for the most part, and they're as touching and sorrowful as they are uplifting and positive in other areas. Mind you, if you've heard Level 2.0 at all, you won't be expecting vocals like Colony 5 in the first place.

To sum up this release, I'm personally delighted that the ideas and time taken to make this have paid off.

Lyrically, we're onto something deeply soulseeking, and there will be moments here that pull at the Heartstrings of you all. Musically, there's a darkness that re-inforces the concept, and when you're writing Synth from a base in the Middle East, you can't really put out something perky and bouncy.

Finally, this album has some excellent artwork. Congratulations, guys.
May 06 2011

Nick Quarm

info@brutalresonance.com
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance

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Started in spring 2009, Brutal Resonance quickly grew from a Swedish based netzine into an established International zine of the highest standard.

We cover genres like Synthpop, EBM, Industrial, Dark Ambient, Neofolk, Darkwave, Noise and all their sub- and similar genres.

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