Concept albums can be a very slippery slope for me. Too many are bloated and corny. Darker concept records seem to appeal to me though. The last album by UK’s Voices was one of those albums. “London” was an album centered around the city and the paranoia of the central character. The downside to it was the usual for me: dialogue.
Despite the narrative approach, there was plenty to like. And now, Voices has returned with “Frightened,” an aptly titled album that looks at day to day life in London today. Let’s face it, the climate in the world today is very frightening to say the least. It’s hard to be bleaker than their last album but I think maybe Voices has achieved that with “Frightened.”
The band were born from the extreme metal band Akercocke, who I did try to get into. Unlike Voices, Akercocke are focused on Satanism and other rather corny topics. Voices realize that Satan has NOTHING on reality. Musically, Voices have an extreme metal background but they also remind me a bit of bands like The Chant and Katatonia. It’s dark and moody, yet quite challenging at the same time.
This is not an easy listen. I don’t mean that in terms of complexity, though the playing is certainly great. But rather the topics, lyrics and overall vibe are not “sunshine and daises.” The album starts off with the rather unsettling riff on “Unknown.” The song has a lot of tension and yet plenty of melody. But add in some rather desperate screams and you know things are bleak. And that’s why I find Voices so interesting. There are specific, purposeful notes that cause your head to tilt size ways and THAT’S because it’s some unsettling shit.
“Rabbit’s Curse” sounds like if The Chant were having an incredibly shitty day. Vocally, it gets quite dramatic and reminds me a lot of Bjørnar Nilsen of Vulture Industries (another favorite of mine). The main difference between Voices and their “sister” band Akercocke is that Voices use dynamics a lot more. Through out “Frightened,” Voices make sure that you feel the environment that they exist in. You are a part of it.
“Evaporated” is a song that Killing Joke probably should have tried while “IWSYA” is a string laden ballad that freaks out on you toward the end. You should NEVER get comfortable…remember the title of the album is “Frightened.” The song actually reminds me of the intro tune from the TV show “Westworld.” Voices are a rock band too, lest ye forget and songs like “Dead Feelings” and “Manipulator” are great examples of good riffs and hooks that they can come up with.
One of my favorite riffs on the album is the one in “Funeral Day.” It’s punchy and is off set by the atmospheric second riff. Dynamics! “Home Movies” is another very interesting song that features some very cool bass work along. By the time I’ve gotten to the symphonic power of the closer “Footsteps,” I always feel like I’ve been a part of the album. Voices bring you in, and it’s very compelling stuff to be sure.
“Frightened” is a more focused album than “London” and is all the better for it. Rather than wandering the streets of London, Voices have a definite path they want you to join them on. It’s obviously not an easy one but with each listen, it becomes clearer. Their music is definitely fascinating and grows on you. The question is if you are willing to join them on this dark, foreboding journey.
2. Rabbits Curse
5. Dead Feelings
7. Funeral Day
9. Home Movies
Release Date: 27 April 2018