In May of 2016, metal band, Levels, independently released their first EP entitled “Exist”. The five-piece band, based out of Conway, Arkansas, consists of vocalist Jake Sanders, guitarists Rob Mathews and Jager Felice, bassist Jacob Hubbard, and drummer Dalton Kennerly. 

Late Sunday evening, I was given the opportunity to sit and listen to Exist. As I began listening to the band’s EP, I was immediately taken back to the days of my youth playing screamo/punk rock in Memphis, Tennessee with my friends. Exist is fast, loud, and driven by a passionate message of following your dreams. 

When I spoke with Jake Sanders, Heber Springs native and Levels vocalist, he talked about what inspired the band lyrically. 

“It’s about things someone wants to do with their life and putting them into action,” said Sanders. 

Musically, the EP fired on all cylinders. Most of the tracks start with a dark and ominous tone, but then immediately blasts the listeners with a fast and distorted rage of millennial punk rock angst fueled by the thought of not settling. As the EP progressed, I could hear elements of melodic progress rock infused throughout the metal influence music. 

As I continued through the EP, I began listening to a song that I recognized. It was as if I’ve heard before, then it dawned on me that I had indeed hear the song before. The band had recorded a heavy version of Demi Lovato’s hit pop song, “Cool for the Summer”. 

“We just felt like doing a cover one night and that song seemed to be a pretty popular song at the time” said Sanders. 

My two favorite songs on Exist were “Lender” and “American Dream”. Being a former vocalist in the underground music scene, these two songs really struck a chord. They felt nostalgic and reminded me of some of the former bands I use to listen to. 

By the time I reached the track “Exist”, I could tell there was something different about the song. 

“Exist was the track where everyone had input in putting it together” continued Sanders. 

A majority of the EP was written by guitarist Rob Mathews and Dalton Kennerly in 2014 before the band was fully formed. 

“Exist is the stepping-stone in the direction we’re going” said Sanders. 

Levels EP “Exist” is the embodiment of millennial’s angst translated through the genre of metal. I give Exist a solid 5 out of 5 stars.