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Vola – Witness Award winner

Vola
Witness
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 29 May 2021, 9:11 AM

Formed in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2006, VOLA explore a mix of 70's style Progressive Rock, Electronica, Industrial and Metal, topped off with clear, beautiful vocal lines. I was quite taken with their 2015 release “Inmazes,” but the follow up, “Applause of a Different Crowd” was even better. So, this highly anticipated release “Witness” never made it to Metal Temple for some reason, but I am reviewing it regardless.

“Straight Lines” leads off the album. It opens with a super heavy, chugging, Djenty rhythm, with Asger’s signature clean vocals. In the second verse, harmonies are added. Coming to the chorus, melodies push through hard, with a big, rich sound. The electronic touches after the second chorus are nice, as well as that keyboard solo. “Head Mounted Sideways” is just a bit longer in length. It begins with more of those heavy, Djenty guitar rhythms. They are augmented by electronic vocals in the first verses, and in come the smooth melodies at the chorus. It turns to a dreamy sound and then transitions seamlessly to a scream followed by a very weighted passage, ending with piano.

“24 Light-Years” was the first single I heard off the album, and it grabbed me right away. Beginning with a very pretty opening sequence of keys and drums, with some background ambiance, it enters quietly. In the second verse, the bass guitar gets chugging, and the true sound of the album hits you square following the second chorus. The melodies are so very well developed in this song. A brief reprieve before the final chorus and then it ends. “These Black Claws” is an odd but pleasing song, beginning with some very heavy guitar strikes. The verses are eerie yet playful, and that chorus is chocked full of bliss. Some rapping follows, an unexpected sound.

“Freak” goes the other way completely, featuring smooth melodies out of the gate. The vocals are harmonized and the open, carefree concept of the song makes it very accessible. This could easily be a song that you stumble across on the radio. Just when you think that things could not get more sublime, “Napalm” is up next. Combining lush keyboards with oppressive guitars, it gradually grows more splendid along the way. Here, some of the more Progressive elements come out as well.  “Future Bird” reminds you of the might and power that the band possesses. Cushy piano elements combine with hefty guitars along with audible, thick bass notes. The vocals are as tranquil as the cool side of a pillow on a hot summer night. There is a very pretty fade-out that takes the song to completion.

“Stone Leader Falling Down” is back to the heavy, Djenty rhythms that pepper the album. How they band can be so heavy yet so lucent at the same time is what makes VOLA’s very essence. Asger’s vocals really cut the pulverizing guitars here and keep the track grounded. “In Your Fur” closes the album. It opens with substantial guitar presence, and a meaty bass line that moves forward with purpose. The keys are subtle in the background, providing wonderful moments of melody. The ending sequence culminates with some vocal “ahhs” that are thick with a chorus or flanger effect that go up and down and from left to right as you listen to them.

Balance. Temperance. Beauty. Beastly. These are but a few words that come to mind after listening to “Witness.” This album did not disappoint. If anything, and it’s hard to say this, it exceeded my expectations. The nine songs are quite different but with a common theme of that perfect harmony between portly, weighted guitars and whimsical, calming vocals and keys that just make me want more. But, I am reminded that nine songs are that magical sweet spot where the band doesn’t try a few more tracks that come off as just a bit too much. It’s only May, but I will be hard pressed to come across a better album this year from a and who is hitting their stride on all cylinders.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Straight Lines
2. Head Mounted Sideways
3. 24 Light-Years
4. These Black Claws
5. Freak
6. Napalm
7. Future Bird
8. Stone Leader Falling Down
9. In Your Fur
Lineup:
Asger Mygind – Guitar & Vocals
Martin Werner – Keys & Programming
Nicolai Mogensen – Bass
Adam Janzi – Drums
Record Label: Mascot Label Group
     


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Edited 16 June 2021
 

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