Dalton Kennerly of LEVELS: “Encapsulate” Drum Playthrough

Arkansas-based progressive metalcore quintet LEVELS recently released their newest single “Encapsulate” on January 17th, 2020. 

The single is the band’s latest follow-up to 2019’s Fade.

LEVELS draws heavily from acts like Veil of Maya, Architects, and Volumes, with a bit of classic hardcore.

Encapsulate is an amalgam of djent and progressive metal that is sure to impress their most dedicated music fans and even casual listeners.

Drummer Dalton Kennerly shared an exclusive drum playthrough of Encapsulate with us, along with a brief biography on his start with music and drums.

“When I first started playing music, I initially thought I would play guitar. My mom got me a first act guitar for Christmas in 2007. That same year, my little brother got a First Act drum set. 

He never even opened the box, and I didn’t like the guitar, so I opened those first act drums one day and went from there. I started frequently playing towards the end of 2008. I would get home from school every day and go straight to the garage to play songs like Wage Slaves by All Shall Perish and Unanswered by Suicide Silence. 

I was really into Slipknot at the time as well. I ended up getting the Joey Jordison signature drum set at the end of 2008. That is the same kit I play today! But, it has since then been modified and refinished with white rhino liner (done by myself and our guitarist, Rob Mathews). 

Throughout the years, I’ve been heavily influenced by drummers like Matt from August Burns Red, Josh from Issues, and as of lately, my buddy Nathan Bulla (of Intervals/Auras) has made me strive to be better as a drummer.

I have always played a wide variety of music, from Audio Slave to old Suicide Silence to Issues. I have never had any formal drum lessons or theory. 

Being 100% self-taught has shaped my playing style into a blend of all the artists I’ve played to over the last 11 and a half years. 

Dalton Kennerley Drummer
Dalton Kennerly

I don’t cover songs as I used to when I first started playing. As I learned different techniques and started writing music for Levels, I developed my style. 

Instead of basing my playing off what some of my favorite drummers did/do, I started basing it off what I enjoyed doing. My drumming style is not overly complex, and I try and compliment the song rather than stick out from it.

When I recorded live drums for the first time, I had this instant passion for learning about recording myself. It costs a lot of money to go into a studio and record, so I thought, “I can do this myself.” 

Joey Sturgis and Cameron Mizell were both huge influences on me as a producer. I know that Joey started in a garage and produced some insane records during that time. He motivated me to be the best I could be with the resources I had.” 


Dalton mentioned Joey Sturgis, who also is a significant influence on me as a producer, as well.

I think the new release sounds incredible. I have a bit of a newer ear to the style of djent, but I have heard some artists. I love progressive music, but I’m much more familiar with earlier prog-rock. 

That said, the way LEVELS presents this style is fantastic. Some progressive/djent music is on the level of being unlistenable due to how insanely complicated it is. 

That type of music, while respectable from a virtuosic viewpoint, it’s not always enjoyable. But, if you can combine the two, you have music that both players and non-players will enjoy. 

The music these guys play features technical prowess and intricate rhythms. From a songwriter’s perspective, there’s an incredible presence of tension and relief in Encapsulate.

The refrain sections are a complete mood change from the tension in the verse sections. The music is crafted incredibly well, and I’m happy to have had a chance to hear and feature the newest release from LEVELS.

Levels Tour Dates 2020

The band hits the road with on their North American 2020 tour beginning in March along with sci-fi inspired progressive metalcore kings Living Machines.

Follow Dalton and LEVELS:

Nick Cesarz

Nick is a drummer, percussionist, and blogger from Milwaukee, WI. He toured extensively with Vinyl Theatre, opening up for acts like twenty one pilots, Panic! at the Disco, and more. Now no longer touring, his passion lies in gear and playing the kit as much as time allows.

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