A pulse disrupts a steady electrical current like a glitch in energy’s natural order. Levels exert the same impact on heavy music. The Central Arkansas quintet—Kolby Carignan [vocals], Jager Felice [guitar], Jacob Hubbard [bass], and Dalton Kennerly [drums]—reconfigure and realign the DNA of metal with elements of pop, electronic, and drum and bass. After generating millions of streams independently, the group expand this vision yet again on their 2023 EP, Pulse [Sharptone Records].

Pulse ties into the whole vibe of finding a partner, dancing, and bringing the club environment into our world,” notes Jager. “It’s us. It’s life. It’s what we all share in common as human beings. That is the Pulse.

Since emerging in 2016, Levels have consistently challenged themselves and the culture of heavy music. Following the 2018 release of the self-titled Levels LP,their signature style evolved across fan favorite singles such as “Encapsulate,” “Eon,” and “Chauvinist,” which amassed over 649K Spotify streams and counting. Along the way, the guys performed alongside everyone from VRSTY and Glass Hands to Beartooth, The Devil Wears Prada, Oceano, and more. The band also powered this rise in D.I.Y. fashion, recording, mixing, and producing the songs and shooting and even editing the videos. During 2023, they entered KonKrete Studios with producer Jonathan Dolese to record what would become the EP. The musicians channeled inspirations as diverse as Billie Eilish, The Weeknd, The Prodigy, Poppy, and Static-X in addition to jungle, trance, and house.

“This is the first time we’ve been able to confidently blend all of these styles in a seamless way,” notes Dalton. “Jonathan helped us merge everything from the drum and bass to the pop vocals. At points, we’re contrasting pretty falsetto with low-tuned instruments. It’s organic and true to who we are.”

“Our mission statement was to create something different from what you typically hear,” Jager goes on. “We asked, ‘How can we make unique music that’s true to us and provides a new direction for metal?’ We’re drawing from diverse inspirations to present a sound of our own.”

At the same time, they built the perfect foundation to launch this era.

Jacob notes, “We’ve very much been a DIY band leading up to this release. From recording and producing our songs, filming our music videos, booking our tours and so much more; everyone has had to wear multiple hats in service to the band. For Pulse, we feel like we have the team we need around us to do our best work and get the song in as many ears as possible.”

Fittingly, Levels introduce this chapter with the single “Pulse.” On the track, they Levels joined forces with The Plot In You frontman Landon Tewers as co-producer. A thick groove underlines another hypnotic hook between bludgeoning screams awash in glitchy fuzz.

“The instrumental was very electric,” Kolby says. “It gave me the feeling of dancing with a girl and having an amazing time. It’s just you two in the room and nobody else. You’re not being judged, and you can do whatever you want.”

 On “Breed,” electronics swirl around groove-laden guitar as Kolby’s breathy verses give way to a chantable chorus, “Under my thumb, ‘cause I’ve been dying to breed.

“It’s a little more R-rated,” smiles Kolby. “It’s about having a sexy one-night stand with a girl. The song is hot, sweaty, and all about sex.”

“It’s the first track that made us go, ‘This is what we want to sound like’,” adds Dalton.

Another collaboration with Landon, “Siren Hymn” hinges on heavenly keys and another head-nodding riff. Kolby’s vocals flutter over this soundscape towards a soaring refrain punctuated by his high register.

“It’s about being in euphoria with your significant other,” Kolby goes on. “You’re experiencing the highest of highs. Maybe it’s your fantasy or it’s someone you’ve always dreamt of and you’re finally with. You’re addicted to this person in the best way possible, and it makes you feel like the best version of yourself.”

In the end, Levels possess the power to set the pulse and the tempo for heavy music’s future.

“We cater to what we like and offer a fresh perspective,” Jager leaves off. “I hope the EP can be a completely new experience for you when you listen to it.”

“We want Pulse to show all of our dynamics,” concludes Kolby. “Whether you love R&B, techno, pop, or metal, it’s a one-stop shop.”

Dalton says, “I want to go after fans of completely different genres and see if we can get them interested in something they’ve never heard before.”

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