Voices – London (2014)
Review by Jude Felton
Last year saw Voices debut album, the obnoxiously titled but musically superior, From the Human Forest Create a Fugue of Imaginary Rain, lay waste to my eardrums. The band, having risen from the ashes of UK band Akercocke, were not about to rest on any laurels and release a sub-par album. It was, and still is, an outstanding debut. Now, with a European release date in 2014, and 2015 in the US (due to a distribution change with Candlelight), they spew forth their follow-up, the abruptly named London, and what a perfect title it is.
Foregoing the lengthy title of their debut, Voices have instead simplified the album name and instead focused on shifting the music forward in leaps and bounds. Human Forest was definitely an album that sunk its hooks in quickly, being a more instantly accessible slice of extreme metal. London, however, is an altogether different beast.
London, itself, is a concept album that takes us on a dark and disturbing journey through a blackened underbelly of England’s capital. Passages of spoken dialogue are interspersed between the songs, painting a bleak picture of a city so often brought to life via glossy magazines and a hyper enthusiastic tourist board. Yes, it is a wonderful city, but London doesn’t want to send you another carbon copy postcard. Instead, it’ll show you a side you don’t often see.
Musically speaking, London is an album that confronts and challenges the listener, right from the start. Suicide Note gets things going, on a suitably morose note; the acoustics and clean, tortured vocals set the tone for the entire album. Not musically, as this is a wonderfully varied album, but in terms of the winding journey you are about to embark on.
After this mellow(ish) introduction to the album, it’s not too long before we are bombarded with blast-beats, screamed vocals and complete sonic devastation. However, it is due to this complete diversity that runs throughout London that I’ll only refer to it as extreme metal. There are plenty of elements of sub-genres within the extreme metal umbrella, yet Voices don’t really seem all that concerned about where they fall. This is just Voices and it pays off superbly; having listened to it about a dozen times now I can honestly say that I feel like I am just scratching the surface of this truly incredible album.
Where the diversity is perfectly summed up is the pairing of The Antidote, a 7 ½ minute descent into hell, followed by absolutely manic The Fuck Trance. Within those 12 minutes or so, you get a real sense of just how hard to pin down London is, over the course of the hour or so running time. If you were listening to this on vinyl, you could put the needle down in a dozen different places and get a dozen different reactions, in terms of the music you hear.
London is a complex album; I knew that right from the first listen. Yet, the rewards it delivers are so very worth your time, patience and energy. In a year that has already seen outstanding albums from fellow Brits, Fen and label-mates Winterfylleth, Voices close out the year with an absolute stunner. London has never been darker and this album will drag you through every dreary, rain-soaked corner of it.
A truly remarkable album.
1. Suicide Note
2. Music for the Recently Bereaved
3. The Actress
4. Vicarious Lover
6. Imaginary Sketches of a Poisoned Man
7. The Antidote
8. The Fuck Trance
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
London is available now in Europe via Candlelight Records and is released on January 27th in the US from Candlelight Records USA.