So, there I am, listening to the newest album from Australian "progressive" metal band Voyager, "V", and my first thought is, "Did Duran Duran come back as an Australian progressive metal band?". Honestly, that was my first impression. I wasn't sure what was I getting in to? As I listened on, however, I realized what I was hearing was not your average heavy metal album. And it was not Duran Duran.
Seriously, the vocals of Daniel Estrin sound a lot like Simon LeBon from Duran Duran so I was not surprised when Voyager's own promotional material made the same comparison.
By the way, "V" is the fifth full-length album from the band, hence "V". Get it? Roman numerals. Clever.
In addition to Estrin on vocals the lineup includes drummer Ashley Doodkorte, Alex Canion on bass and guitarists Scott Kay and Simone Dow. In keeping with the 80's vibe, Daniel Estrin also plays a keytar! Awesome. I hoped it was a keytar.
Now, Voyager is not going to please everyone, especially metal traditionalists. There is just so much happening on this album. Remember, it "progressive" which means there's a lot of experimentation going on, a lot of unusual time signatures and a crazy combination of sounds.
That's exactly what I love about this album from Voyager; they've used everything to make their music including, I believe, the kitchen sink. At times it's poppy, then it's metal. The vocals are clean and fantastically melodic. There are elements of 80's pop, guitar virtuosity, a touch of death-metal style vocals, occasional moments that sound like the soundtrack to a Nintendo video game and everything in between. To say that Voyager pushes the envelope gives too much credit to the envelope. It's like they threw it all into a blender and "V" came out.
The album kicks off with the monster "Hyperventilating" which clues you in to how the rest of "V" is going to go. The keytar soars, the vocals are powerful and the guitars are heavy with some scorching leads. And the song is catchy as hell.
A few of the songs stand out as favorites of mine beginning with "You The Shallow" with it's groovy guitar riffing and driving beat. Not to keep going back to the 80's thing but the vocals on this track are like something Tears For Fears did back in the day. Add two very talented guitar players and the aforementioned keytar and you've got yourself a pretty snappy little ditty here.
For a demonstration of Daniel Estrin's vocal range, check out "Peacekeeper". For a more sentimental track, look no further than the piano based "Summer Always Comes Again". And for a great example of how to sum up an album, give "Seasons of Age" a listen. It starts off light and melodic but ends with a heavy guitar/drum breakdown that devolves into a minimalistic, head-bobbing, metal journey.
Suffice it to say, I really liked "V". Not every track is a show stopper but every song is enjoyable and fans of talented musicians playing together will not be disappointed. If you've got an open mind when it comes to metal and also have an affinity for mid-80's pop, then I encourage you to give this record a listen. As it turns out, it's not actually Duran Duran. What it is an unusual combination of influences that come together and create a pretty cool album. Enjoy the voyage.