These days, progressive rock/metal comes in so many flavors, with a colossal amount of bands dwelling on it and delivering technically pristine and extremely elaborate records. The thing with the progressive sub-genre is that it encompasses such a broad variety of music styles that no single individual could claim to like all of them. By inheritance and definition, progressive music is extremely subjective and in my opinion the most difficult to comment on and recommend.
One can use the BIG bands as guidelines, such as Rush or Dream Theater, but just by looking at those two alone and how different they are from each other, you’re able to see what I’m trying to say with the word broad. This is why, in most cases when you read a review for a band within this category, you will almost always get a line: “If you’re a fan of band of X, Y and Z you’ll like what’s delivered here.”
But I digress, because we’re here talk about Voyager’s latest album V. As I stated earlier this month in my concert review of Evergrey, Voyager and Borealis, I was intent on revisiting this record that somehow slipped trough the cracks on my new releases pile when it first came out. Hailing from Australia, Voyager falls in the melodic heavy metal side of the progressive hoard, and their most unique trait by far is vocalist Daniel Estrin. He has an instantly recognizable voice and singing style, unlike any other in the genre, which will probably be the determining like-or-unlike factor for most.
After saying that, I encourage anyone new to them to not judge Voyager by listening to a single song once, this is a band that releases the sort of records that need to be listened as a whole and that require a few spins to completely sink in and be appreciated. Much like on their previous release, The Meaning of I, all the band members put their hearts and souls on every tune included on V.
The whole experience is full of melodic yet complex arrangements, some highlights are the excellent “Hyperventilating” that kicks things off mixing slow passages with more heavy groovy parts, in which we also get a taste of the excellent guitar work that is to come from Simone Dow and Scott Kay. Immediately after comes the catchy and captivating “Breaking Down” where Estrin provides some of his signature vocals.
The female vocals on “A Beautiful Mistake” bring a welcome surprise not that it’s the only one because they amaze at every turn. “Embrace the Limitless” is by far the most avant-garde track on the album, with a lot of synth-pop elements (yes, you read that right!) on it. “It’s A Wonder” is the very definition of progressive as it changes speed and style with magnificent ease. “The Morning Light” has a beautiful melodic chorus and some great keys on it, and the closing track “Seasons of Age” that finishes thing in in a more traditional way.
It’s great to see a band having fun with the genre and coming off as authentic, seems to me that many are just out to show off their technical skills. The width of musical elements used by the band is staggering and will appeal to fans of many different styles, a fact easily demonstrated by watching/listening to the videos included here. These are the first and last tracks on the album and they are quite different from each other, this alone can help you decide if you are interested enough to get V and walk the entire road that Voyager builds between them.
V will not appeal to everyone’s taste but it’s a definite winner in the innovation department, and the most interesting and fearless album on the genre I’ve heard in some time. And finally since I’m not one to break traditions, the only way for me to close this review is by saying that if you’re a fan of Fates Warning, Symphony X and Pain of Salvation; you’ll like what Voyager delivers on their album V.
02. Breaking Down
03. A Beautiful Mistake
04. Fortune Favours The Blind
05. You, The Shallow
06. Embrace The Limitless
08. Domination Game
10. It’s A Wonder
11. The Morning Light
12. The Summer Always Comes Again
13. Seasons of Age
Alex Canion – bass and vocals
Simone Dow – guitars
Daniel Estrin – vocals and keys
Ashley Doodkorte – drums
Scott Kay – guitars
Produced by Matthew Templeman and Voyager
Mixed by Matthew Templeman
Review by Eduardo for Sleaze Roxx, September 2015