Review Summary: There is method to their madness.
I always liked Akercocke’s style of eclectic blackened death metal, but I never cared for the vocals. Truth be told, I’ve never been a fan of the guttural death metal vocals that sound more like a slur of growls than actual syllables and words – that’s where Voices comes in. Voices was born from the (temporary) dissolution of Akercocke after the release of their acclaimed album Antichrist
. Voices expanded on the experimental nature of Akercocke, but they did away with the guttural vocals and a lot of the death metal influences in favor of a black metal-driven approach. Additionally, they dropped the satanic imagery of their former band and moved towards something much more literary. These changes brought with them additional progressive, goth, and post punk influences that helped flesh out the band’s more ambitious ideas.
It was on their third album, Frightened
, where Voices dropped quite a bit of the extreme elements and moved towards something more akin to an eccentric and energetic version of Katatonia’s Tonight’s Music
. It was still a good album, but it lost a lot of the extremes that made the first two albums so good. Apparently, the band felt the same way because Breaking the Trauma Bond
returns the violent black metal elements that were so lacking on Frightened
while also introducing some of the death metal elements they hadn’t really used since Akercocke. The result is an album that seems to effortlessly swing from Tonight’s Music
style Katatonia to blackened death metal akin to modern Behemoth, while also utilizing a smattering of progressive, goth, electronics, and post punk influences – even drifting straight into Pink Floyd territory in a few instances (especially “Running Away” which is 100% Pink Floyd).
Anyone that listened to Voices’ early 2021 EP release, An Audience of Mannequins
, was already aware the band were making a return to extreme metal in a big way. An Audience of Mannequins
hits immediately with ferocious (but intelligible) death metal vocals, break-neck percussion, black metal shrieks, and crushing riffs – oh… and harmonized vocals, subtle piano, and abstract atonal ambience. Sometimes these elements are blended, and sometimes they’re part of a jarring change that seemingly comes from nowhere. It would be tough, though, to paint the entire album with the entire brush. For every crushing blackened death track such as “Breaking the Trauma Bond” or “An Audience of Mannequins” there’s a counterpoint such as the Pink Floyd worship of “Running Away”, the electronics dominated “My Sick Mind”, or the ambient prog of “She Speaks to Him in a Dream”. There’s also a prominent goth/post punk sound on quite a few of these songs. “Lilacs In-Between” is one of those songs. “Lilacs In-Between”, operates out of a Katatonia-goes-post-punk foundation complete with melodic electronic nuances, prominent piano melodies, and harmonized vocals while also breaking into blackened death metal that recedes as quickly as it emerged. One thing is for sure, Breaking the Trauma Bond
isn’t a one-trick pony stuck on one particular recurring formula.
It feels like Breaking the Trauma Bond
is the album Voices has been trying to achieve since their inception. It features the raw extremes of their debut, the artsy progressive tendencies of London
, and the gothy post punk of Frightened
, but every element is delivered with so much more conviction and aptitude than at any time previously. They’ve also become much more adept at songwriting. Despite the chaos and constant jarring stylistic contrasts, every song sounds like its own entity and features at least one element that will stick with you long after you’re done listening. The tendency for every track to break in unexpected ways also helps to maintain the excitement and anticipation despite the sixty-nine-minute runtime. With the release of Breaking the Trauma Bond
, Voices have released an album that features the best of their previous releases while still expanding and evolving in new and exciting ways.