VOLA
Applause of a Distant Crowd


5.0
classic

Review

by SitarHero USER (48 Reviews)
October 12th, 2018 | 277 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Vola spread their wings and soar.

When Vola released their debut full length album Inmazes in 2015 they accomplished something rather extraordinary. By fusing post-Meshuggah heaviness with the kind of '70s progressive rock melodicism that Opeth has fallen in love with over the past decade, Vola crafted what might well be the last truly original album of the "djent" era. Inmazes eschewed the mindless battering of chugging guitars and self-important technicality that plagues modern "prog" in favour of a more thoughtful approach to riffing, an unshakeable grasp of melody, and dynamic synthesizer layering, which set Vola apart from the rest of the pack and established them as promising rising stars within the genre.

Applause of a Distant Crowd finds the band fulfilling that promise by building on Inmazes' considerable strengths and fixing its glaring weaknesses. Gone is the wall-to-wall guitar/bass sound that dominated proceedings and threatened to bury all the pretty vocal and keyboard melodies. Also gone is the lack of subtlety and variation that lent Inmazes an air of same-ness that made listening to the entire album a bit of a chore despite the individual brilliance of each of its songs. Vola's growth, maturity and self-awareness is apparent from the get-go on Applause. While the band has always understood that their real trump card is guitarist/vocalist Asger Mygind's sonorous yet surprisingly vulnerable voice, which evokes Mikael Åkerfeldt's singing voice in all the right ways, they've now figured out how to best emphasize and focus on Mygind's voice while staying true to their instrumental vision.

There are riffs on Applause as heavy as anything Vola have written thus far in their career. "Smartfriend" and "Whaler"' have a pronounced Meshuggah-ness in their hypnotic, dissonant repetitiveness while "Alien Shivers" and the title-track feature the kind of jumpy grooves that make Vola's instrumental attack so addictive in the first place. However, even at their heaviest and most commanding, the riffs take a backseat to the vocal and keyboard melodies. The riffs exist here to provide dynamics—crescendoing and lifting songs whenever necessary—and never get in the way of either Mygind's voice or Martin Werner's keyboard hooks and synth layers. There is a kind of pervading spaciousness in the songwriting and production that allows every instrument to not just co-exist but thrive at all times, and to really shine when called upon to carry a song.

However, the unlikely gems of Vola's set prove to be the distortion-free "Ruby Pool", "Vertigo" and "Green Screen Mother". These tracks are exactly the kind of respite from overbearing guitars that Inmazes sorely needed but lacked. Their presence on Applause illustrates Vola's newfound mastery of subtlety in composition as well as the confidence that the band has in its songwriting, while also improving the pacing of the album immensely. "Ruby Pool" in particular is a gorgeous tune featuring gentle piano, plucked guitar, and an emotional guitar solo (another first) from Mygind. Not only is the song itself gorgeous, but its presence enhances the impact of the tracks that bookend it.

This, more than anything else, announces Vola's arrival as a true force to reckon with and the capitalisation on their obvious talent. Vola always knew how to write great melodies and riffs, but now they've also figured out when they should lean on one or the other. This manifests on both the micro-scale with songwriting—the way that the title track, "Smartfriend" and "Whaler" evolve and unfold is quite marvellous—as well as on the macro-scale with the way the album itself flows. Applause of a Distant Crowd proves to be a quantum leap for Vola, both in terms of composition as well as presentation, which is enough to make this one of the most enjoyable listening experiences of 2018.



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user ratings (181)
Chart.
3.9
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
SitarHero
October 12th 2018


7198 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

So I pretty much listened to just this all day and fell in love with it. My AOTY right now.

SitarHero
October 12th 2018


7198 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Here's the youtube stream:



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdOyeruu8IQ

SowingSeason
Moderator
October 12th 2018


28403 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

This is gorgeous

Digging: John Nolan - Abendigo

thedoom
October 12th 2018


36 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review. This will probably continue to grow on me, but as of now I much prefer Inmazes over this.

SitarHero
October 12th 2018


7198 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The first two singles didn't grab me when they came out, but daaaaamn do they work well in the context of the album. There was nothing I could fault about the album and the title-track might just be my SOTY. Ergo, 5.

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
October 12th 2018


9113 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Goddamn

GhostB1rd
October 12th 2018


1785 Comments


Singles for this were bad bad very bad.

SitarHero
October 13th 2018


7198 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I remember not really liking Ghosts and Smartfriend when they first came out, but I absolutely love them on here. Alien Shivers was always a banger though.

cloakanddagger
October 13th 2018


308 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Ghosts is catchy af, I wanted to hate it when I heard it but as soon as the chorus hit I couldn't get that out of my head.

Album is awesome. Great review too.

alamo
October 13th 2018


574 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

as someone who thought their debut was quite messy, this is pretty fucking phenomenal

kmagnum1x
October 13th 2018


345 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This came out of nowhere for me

Piripichotes
October 13th 2018


483 Comments


I'm still having trouble gettin' into this... I wasn't into inmazes either...

Piripichotes
October 13th 2018


483 Comments


I'd rather pick this one over the other though....

SitarHero
October 13th 2018


7198 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I recommend listening to the title track by itself. If that song doesn't grab you then this album probably isn't going to do much for you.

LunaticSoul
October 13th 2018


1064 Comments


5 IS TOO MUCH

3.5/4, IMHO a step up in terms of song quality from Inmazes

Dizchu
October 13th 2018


268 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Amazing album. Sounds like the balance between metal and pop is shifted more towards pop on this one, but I think that works in their favour.

HarryBoBerry
October 13th 2018


601 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Fantastic review, echoes my thoughts on this album. I listened to it on repeat yesterday, I haven't been this captivated by an album all year.

teamster
October 13th 2018


3338 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The similar bands listed on the profile page is quite the array of music. I may check this just because of that. Excellent review and thanks.

Digging: Trautonist - Ember

MarsKid
October 13th 2018


7309 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Boy I am full of hype, will jam today

Digging: Napoleon - Epiphany

stronghold
October 13th 2018


12 Comments


Alien shivers is one of the best tracks in 2018, that intro riff is some alien technology. Vertigo is perfect track too.



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