Review Summary: The voices of Akercocke's past have returned, and this time they sound even more demented than ever before.
For those who have been wondering just what has happened to Akercocke in the last few years, the answer has now been revealed. A band called Voices, consisting of no less than THREE ex-members from Akercocke (drummer David Gray, guitarist and vocalist Peter Benjamin and keyboardist and guitarist Sam Loynes) as well as new member Dan Abela on bass. It shouldn’t be at all surprising then, that every song on the band’s debut album, which is ambitiously titled “From the human forest create a fugue of imaginary rain”, is nothing but pure Blackened Death Metal, with neat although not entirely necessary progressive twists here and there. The point is, if you never liked Akercocke, then you probably won’t like Voices either.
For the most part Voices’ debut is actually pretty damn consistent and solid, even if there are times when the band’s seemingly endless barrage of blastbeats and inhuman vocals don’t quite work as well as they should. Opener ‘Dnepropetrovsk’ sets a chaotic tone for the rest of the album to follow, Gray’s machine gun style drum work battering along to the deepest depths of Hell, joining the insane musical whirlwind of Benjamin’s torturous vocals and Loynes’ grinding guitar effects. Other songs such as the demonic ‘Fragmented illustrations of anger’ and the melancholic but twisted ‘This too shall pass’ don’t offer anything new to the band’s sound and instead aim for a similar structure to ‘Dnepropetrovsk’, but with repeated listens they should be easily embraced by any Death or Black Metal fan.
Strangely enough, the experimental side of the album isn’t quite as clear as on the latter Akercocke albums, and if you really want to see what Voices are doing to distinguish themselves from any other band playing a similar style, this album deserves to be listened to without any distractions. The vocal effects are perhaps the most obvious forms of musical experimentation. On songs such as the quite brilliant ‘Eyes become black’ and equally as haunting ‘Sexual isolation’, female vocals harmonize with melodic instrumentation and the music, naturally, becomes graceful to listen to. As well as these, the clean vocals courtesy of both Peter Benjamin and Sam Loynes mostly add to the harmony of ‘This too shall pass’ and suitable closer ‘Endless’, and the keyboard interlude performed in ‘Eyes become black’ proves to be quite an astounding effect on an otherwise brutal sound.
Despite the undoubtedly precise performances by each member of the band however, it cannot be ignored that some of the songs just become exhausted too quickly. Take ‘Sexual isolation’ for example, a song which, although quite powerful in its first half, eventually becomes too weary for the listener to keep up with the band’s half-hearted instrumentation, and possibly due to the fact that it is just too long for its own good (Cutting the time down from ten minutes to around six or seven could have helped the band greatly to keep a consistent sound), you may find yourself wanting to skip to the next song. ‘Unawareness of human emotion’ and ‘Everything you believe in is wrong’ both suffer under monotonous guitar and bass work, like in the second half of ‘Sexual isolation’, whilst the sometimes ridiculous screams that are quite obviously provided by Peter Benjamin don’t do anything but mar an otherwise solid sound.
Voices don’t sound as if they want to surpass the quality found on any of Akercocke’s five albums, but with a generally solid performance that suffers slightly from a couple of filler tracks, “From a human forest…” proves to be exactly what you expect, if you’re a fan of somewhat complex Blackened Death Metal. Voices is probably the closest thing to an Akercocke comeback, so prepare to be disappointed if any of you thought otherwise. All in all, a strong debut from a band who show no sign of stopping just yet.