Review Summary: "I just hope they walk away with an understanding that it’s a different era for us as a band" - Michael Barr
Volumes liked to keep us waiting, didn’t they? After such a well-received debut album the bar was only set higher. So here we are, in 2014, with “No Sleep”. The production is crisp, hard-hitting, and complements the music in all the right places.
Sticking to what they know, Volumes has created a groovy, djenty LP that is worthy of your time. Personally, my favorite song off “VIA” was Edge of The Earth; it provided a great atmospheric feel and featured clean vocals that fans and critics alike wanted more of. Building off that, they gave us what we wanted. Featured best in Erased, Up All Night, and Across the Bed (although that song features a different singer), the band accurately used cleans to give us that atmosphere and highlights the rest of the instruments. Harsh vocals are used in the exact same way in VIA. Switching between Gus Farias and Michael Barr, Volumes gives us a relief from a monotonous performance.
Guitars are tuned lower and more haphazard than in Via. The difference in songwriting between the two albums is evident. Volumes puts more of an emphasis on songwriting. The guitar takes a slightly less important role as everything else gel together. The band sounds less like your typical guitar-driven band and more as a coherent unit with the result being nothing short of impressive. Groove riffs and breakdowns are still as prominent as ever; however they are used more effectively. For the most part, they do not feel as forced as they have in the past.
Drums are tame. Nothing spectacular or worth nothing; Nick Ursich simply does his job. Bass guitar takes a backseat as well. They’re used well, but they get lost in the big picture that is “No Sleep”. Drums and bass sacrificed being flashy and standing out in order to produce something that is lucid to the listener.
The lyrical content is also worth noting. With the addition of more euphoric atmosphere the lyrics of a late friend, James Vahle(hence the name of the song), feel so much more legitimate: I don't often think about regret, And what it means to me, I will always have all respect, About what you mean to me. You can feel the emotion that this Los Angeles outfit has poured into this album and it's evident the songwriting was written around to highlight the lyrics to invoke a more mature response from the album.
Ultimately, this album proved to be a more mature sounding record. To be able to effectively use clean and harsh vocals so beautifully is nothing short of impressive and deserves to be given a listen to because so many bands try and fail. This is a different album for Volumes. While for the most part everyone loved “Via”, but I doubt everyone wanted a Via 2.0. Coming from someone who writes music, writing the same album twice is not nearly as rewarding as trying out something fresh and new and having it turning out as well as “No Sleep” did.