19 May 2021 - Sebastian
Progressive-Metal | Mascot Label Group | Release date: 21 May 2021
Progressive Metal, Djent, Electronic elements and an ethereal voice. All of this combined make up the music of VOLA from Denmark.
VOLA’s new and third album (after Inmazes and Applause of Distant Crowd) called Witness is a perfect combination of both prior albums and proves that bands can evolve and still remain true to their roots. Witness still shows some new sides to the Danes’ music.
The album opens with ”Straight Lines” which has a very classic VOLA sound and immediately draws the listener in with its heavy drums and djenty guitars. In the background you can often make out the synth which is an important part of their music. When the first chorus hits, the sound opens up with big, multi-layered vocals, but then immediately switches back to a heavy verse part.
After this open-arms welcome, that really emphasizes their strengths, we jump right into “Head Mounted Sideways”. This incredibly groovy song was first released in 2020, but has not lost any of its drive and heaviness. The vocals in the first verse are very futuristic and really drive the song. The chorus once again, as it is typical VOLA fashion, is very wide and open. They know about the strength of Asger Mygind’s voice and incorporate it very well into each song. The synths lay down a thick pad overtop the dark and djenty bass.
Now that we had two really heavy and dark songs, we get a very uplifting song with ”24 Light-Years”. While the guitars and synth provide a very wide and calm stage, the drums really are the driving force in this song. They play a complex rhythm from the very beginning. This shows that though it seems as if VOLA calmed down, they still got to flex their progressive muscles and do so really well. The vocals, synth and guitar serve as a good contrast to the intricate drumming. If it was not for the drums, the whole song could be seen as a boring poppy rock song.
The latest single ”The Black Claws” might have confused fans at the start, as it features a very long Hip-Hop part by the American-Dutch duo SHAHMEN. This feature is not as cheesy as it might sound at first. The first verse is sung over a simple beat, sandwiched between two heavy parts. The second verse is then told by Bless. The rapper fits the song perfectly as he tells us about a dystopian future. When he ends his part with ”But front row seats to the apocalypse are priceless. Life is hanging here in these black claws. Staring at a white sky full of black stars.” there is a perfectly timed flam on the snare drum, that will signal everyone at a concert “now it’s time to go crazy”.
”These Black Claws” also marks the end of side A of Witness and once we turn the record, we are greeted by the calm ”Freak” which gives the listener the chance to take a breath. It shows the versatility of VOLA once again, with its calm vocals and acoustic guitar and telling a story of (inner) conflict. It is a welcome change in pace and let’s you prepare for the rest of the album. It is quite reminiscent of ”Ruby Pool” from their last album.
Now that we have all calmed down, the next song ”Napalm” lures us in with a beautiful synth part, only to throw it under the bus once the drums set it. We’re back to heavy, which is not a bad thing at all, as they surely know how to craft heavy songs that still make their way into your brain and stay there for a long time, the chorus especially. Once again, even though the drums play a very intense beat, the guitar and synth help to alleviate the heaviness and combined with the vocals create this feel good sound, that is a VOLA-trademark.
”Future Bird” is one of those songs that might need a few listens to really appreciate, but once it clicked, it is a beautiful, melancholic song. It is not as heavy as many other songs, but it is also not a real ballad, it falls in some kind of middle ground and that is perfectly fine, even if that means that at first it might seem a bit out of place.
After all this melancholy and slower sound, we get the most djenty song of the whole album called ”Stone Leader Falling Down”. This song also is a commentary on all these people, that only surround themselves with “a crowd of chanters”, but only care for their own good.
The album closes with ”Inside Your Fur” and you can tell that VOLA placed this song at the end on purpose. It rounds off the album very well and leaves the listener with a sense of completion, as it fades out slowly.
With Witness VOLA prove that they are a modern Progressive-Metal powerhouse. Their combination of heaviness, beautiful vocals and great sounding synths makes them stand out from the crowd. The album offers something for every taste, with the first half being very heavy and the second half showing more of their calm side.