Voices - Frightened
Candlelight Records
Progressive/Gothic Metal
11 songs (48:04)
Release year: 2018
Official Bandcamp, Candlelight Records
Reviewed by Goat

After two albums that took the blackened death metal of Akercocke and twisted it into unique directions, particularly on well-received concept album London, Voices have again changed the formula and created something new. Adding a hefty dose of 80s gothic rock and 90s gothic metal to the cauldron has made for a third album completely different to what I (and presumably you) were expecting! It's not necessarily a good move for the band; when your reputation is built on intense self-loathing blackened dirges such as The Fucktrance, suddenly switching your sound to something altogether more restrained and less extreme can be something of a jolt. The aim, presumably, is to replace the outright trauma of before with a softer, less in focus feel, and aside from a couple of examples I'll get to, Voices generally succeed in this; it's as if instead of living through the trauma and despair, the band are reminiscing upon it, in a similar way to the last Akercocke album's grown-up, self-improving feel.

Opener Unknown is a good bridge between old and new styles, retaining a certain amount of dissonance and keeping the aggressive metal spirit but upping the progressive rock factor, introducing extra layers of structure and using the clean singing of Pete Benjamin to excellent effect. He is as emotive as before, still retaining those shades of Jason Mendonca but often singing at a higher pitch and in fairness his voice has developed well, more confident and natural-sounding than before. There's much more clean singing, the unearthly screeches relegated to punctuation mark-status to increase their impact, and it works. Sure, the occasional over-theatricality in his spoken vocals can be distracting, as on Rabbits Curse and the weird closing section of Home Movies, yet elsewhere as on the almost djenty Evaporated it is very effective.

Songwriting overall will be divisive, I suspect; particularly the nearly nu-metal grooving that opens Dead Feelings before switching to a more atmospheric sort of groove metal, growing more blackened as it goes. IWSYA is about as far from metal as it's possible to get, closer to recent Anathema initally, all vocals and strummed guitar with backing piano and only using metal elements towards the end, with some of the best use of screams on the album. Manipulator is downright Katatonia-esque at first before adding piano, Fascinator is a brief acoustic ballad. None of these songs are anything approaching bad, but it all feels rather experimental, as if the band wanted to try as much as possible to see what works - the implication being that it'll take another album for it all to coalesce into something more cohesive, I guess?

Voices remain a hugely interesting band if not one always capable of making their music match their ambitions, yet a couple of songs here are outstanding enough to suggest they're very close. Funeral Day, like a clean-vocalled atmospheric Gojira, is the sort of song that I wouldn't mind hearing more of, while finale Footsteps uses its epic orchestral backing to superb effect, moving closer to atmospheric post-metal in style while using the suicidal lyrical theme for heavy emotional impact. I still prefer the band at their heaviest, but appreciate that they're constantly changing and Frightened will last as long in my playlist as the previous albums did.

Killing Songs :
Unknown, IWSYA, Manipulator, Funeral Day, Footsteps
Goat quoted 75 / 100
Other albums by Voices that we have reviewed:
Voices - An Audience of Mannequins (EP) reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Voices - London reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Voices - From the Human Forest Create a Fugue of Imaginary Rain reviewed by Goat and quoted 78 / 100
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