Review Summary: A mirror into our soul, London is a perfect representation of the human condition.
Perfect. - Having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.
is the bastard child of four men, Dan Abela, Sam Loynes, Peter Benjamin, and David Gray; two of which were originally members of the now reinstated Akercocke
. Formed in lieu of the ‘Cocke’s breakup, their debut From the Human Forest Create a Fugue of Imaginary Rain
was released in 2011 to mixed success. While it showed plenty of promise, it had trouble establishing an identity for Voices
, feeling more like a lost Akercocke
album than a separate project. It wasn’t until London
that they established their identity, distinguishing themselves from their father with an album rife with unbridled rage and horror.
is a concept album, while its story is complex and layered (read the excellent analysis by TheNemeton91
here: https://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/77070/Voices-UK-London/ ), it ultimately embraces one central theme. Humanity’s greatest fault, our selfish nature. This theme is ordered through the story of a man who embraces the evil within and acts on every cruel desire he feels fit to enact, ultimately culminating in a violent murder. While we tell ourselves that we would never do that which our character does, his thought patterns mirror many of ours. He views himself as an actor, the main draw on the stage of life. He deludes himself, believing that he is not only the lead in his own life, but in others as well. Think upon it, how often have you thought this same way, justifying despicable actions because you are the actor in your own great tragedy？ London
is not a terrifying album because its lyrical themes are dark, it’s terrifying because it’s personal. Jealousy, rage, selfishness, you relate to the actor. It’s this relation, this common human element, which digs itself into you and leaves a lasting impression.
The experience is only heightened by the music presented. The compositions still maintain many of Akercocke
’s stylings, hard riffs, vicious drumming, a warbling howl over melancholic chords, however the presentation is vastly different. The riffs take on a shape of their own, oozing filth and rot. Songs like "Megan" would normally falter under such repetition, but as the song progresses it decays, captivating you with its repeating riff until it’s lodged in your brain. A feeling of paranoia washes over you, and by the time “Megan” is whispered for the last time you feel cold and alone, connected only to London
. David Gray’s drumming takes on a new life as well, pummeling you into submission with a ferocity unmatched by even the early days of Akercocke
, instilling you with rage and hate. However, the real distinguishing motif of London
is Peter Benjamin’s vocals. While his cleans could be compared to Jason Mendonça, Benjamin’s warble contains a fragility that intensifies the vile scene presented. The flipside presents his growl, attributing similarities to Mikael Akerfeldt (Opeth
) with its clear enunciation and powerful roar. With these two stylings he creates a dichotomy, London
’s bipolar nature allows it to manipulate your emotions. Because of its continually contorting emotional base it never lets you relax, switching your passions on a dime. From rage you feel fear, to hate, to grief, to rage again, creating paranoia within you. With every switch in your emotional state the suspicious delusions rise, a foreboding sense of evil, building until the final static of "Cold Harbour Lane" leaves you in the silence, hatred and fear radiating from your core.
Now it should be warned that London
is not for the faint of heart. It’s undesirable by most counts, the production is loud and compressed, nearly guaranteeing you a headache by its end. The compositions tend to drag at times, repeating elements ad nauseam. Even the most praiseworthy aspect of the music, Peter Benjamin’s voice, is flawed. His voice is difficult, pertaining many frustrating and grating qualities, as much a turn-off to Voices’ sound as a turn-on. But each flaw is the justification for a perfect score. “To err is human” is the philosophy of London
, what proper representation of the bleak nature of our souls can be flawless？ Flawlessness is a pipe dream in the explanation of the human condition, there can be no glistening descriptor of our species. London
’s perfection isn’t attained through flawlessness, but its resonation through the horrors of humanity. So embrace Voices
, all their rot, decay, and filth. Let them embrace you, for they understand you. London
knows you, look into it and you’ll find a mirror to your soul, flawed, dirty, disgusting. Perfect.