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Voices - "London" (CD)

Voices - "London" CD cover image

"London" track listing:

1. Suicide Note
2. Music for the Recently Bereaved
3. The Actress
4. Vicarious Lover
5. Megan
6. Imaginary Sketches of a Poisoned Man
7. The Antidote
8. The FuckTrance
9. Hourglass
10. The House of Black Light
11. The Final Portrait of the Artist
12. Last Train Victoria Line
13. The Ultimate Narcissist
14. Cold Harbour Lane

Reviewed by on December 22, 2014

"Each song contains something — a guitar part, varied vocals, or a certain mood that just stands out and keeps the album from becoming boring."

Voices is an apt name for a band that produces such a variety of vocals. “London,” the sophomore album by the London-based band, features blackened shrieks, beastly growls, gothic-tinged lamentations, and storyline-clarifying narrations. The band’s progressive nature, which also comes out in its music, isn’t as surprising when its members are revealed. Three of the band’s four members formerly played in Akercocke. While Voices is similar in style to that past group, progressive black/death, the mood and subject matter is much different. Akercocke pens songs of sex and Satan, while “London” is a much moodier album that appears to be a long poem to the city.

The narrations on “London” are supported by sound effects that help realize the mood. Album opener “Suicide Note” sounds like the title suggests. Lush acoustic guitar chords and gothic clean vocals reveal a sorrowful track. “Music For the Recently Bereaved” is a much darker and faster track, at least in the beginning. Choruses of shrieks and growls set to churning guitars make way for bells and whispers near the midway point of the song. The heavy parts come back into the mix, but here is a good example of how the band shakes it up.

“Vicarious Lover” moves like a black metal song with its throaty howls and blast beats, but the band strips this all away in lieu of city sounds and male-female narration near the end of the track. An alarm-like noise overtakes “Megan” while David Gray plays a superb drum solo. “The Final Portrait of the Artist” is a short track consisting entirely of narration.

“London” reveals more strange change ups than can be noted in this review. For those looking for something less on the ambient side and more straight forward, there is plenty of that on the album, too. Even though “Imaginary Sketches of a Poisoned Man” ends on a spacey note, the bulk of the track hinges on scathing guitar sounds, up-tempo drumming, and roaring vocals.

“The House of Black Light” moves through buzzing guitars, a wild solo, and blackened yelling mixed with a diabolical, clean vociferation. The amalgamation of voices, in particular the clean sort, gives “Last Train Victoria Line” a disturbing quality. The clean vocals are absolutely unhinged. The guitar and drum beats on “The Ultimate Narcissist” have a math metal quality to them, and this track would fit well on a Dillinger Escape Plan album (with different vocals, of course).

14 songs clocking in at over an hour makes “London” a sprawling piece of work. Due to the album’s progressive nature, though, it’s hard to lose focus. Each song contains something — a guitar part, varied vocals, or a certain mood that just stands out and keeps the album from becoming boring. “London” is the album for not just fans of complex music, but for listeners tired of hearing the same black and death metal chords.

Highs: The progressive nature of the album keeps each song from stagnating.

Lows: Sometimes the band overdoes the amount of layers and ambient weirdness.

Bottom line: A solid effort of progressive black/death metal.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)