Within the vast musical sonisphere, there are essentially two types of band – the first sticks to the rules, the other smashes the boundaries down.
Perth’s Voyager follow the latter way of thinking by delivering a unique brand of progressive metal with twists like electronica, industrial and Gothic metal that has gained them a dedicated fanbase augmented by touring the US and Europe, ProgPower festivals and supporting bands such as Alestorm and Children Of Bodom in Australia. Not too bad for a band from the world’s most isolated capital city. Now they have just unleashed their newest musical offering, The Meaning of I, onto the world’s ears.
If past forays into Voyager’s back catalogue are something to go off, the opening track sets a precedent for the rest the album and “Momentary Relapse of Pain” does just that with a hard, choppy syncopating riff that segues into a pulsating rhythmic groove combining their heaviness with trademark Voyager keyboard passages and electronica with a guitar/keyboard trade-off thrown in for good measure. Scene set? You bet.
Voyager work well with all the elements available in the metal genre, but what makes them stand apart is the idiosyncrasies they throw in, such as bountiful amounts of melodic hooks, upbeat lyrics and electronic elements, creating an array of memorable compositions. “Seize the Day” takes on an anthemic feel with u positive lyrics from vocalist Daniel Estrin and a vibrant guitar solo from Simone Dow, the title track is reminiscent of today’s modern metal with a chugging, almost djent-like riff tuned down to B yet with a Soilwork feel overall, and “Stare Into the Night” and “Broken” both flow melodically with a dancey beat augmented by Estrin’s swirling keyboards floating around in the air and Alex Canion’s thumping bass. “The Pensive Disarray” shifts momentum throughout, one moment hard hitting, yet without notice moves to being sweetly melodic (especially the solo from new recruit Scott Kay), building to a climactic peak with former TesseracT vocalist Daniel Tompkins adding another dimension vocally and contrasting well against Estrin’s voice. “Fire of the Times” utilizes their heavier side but ultimately change into 80’s melodic metal/AOR territory, with Royal Hunt vocalist DC Cooper providing his legendary stylings to the song’s chorus and “Are You Shaded?” closes the album by throwing everything Voyager into the pot with a catchy chorus, growls, pounding yet eclectic drum work from Mark Boeijen, and blistering dual solos from Dow and Kay.
In “Iron Dream (In Memoriam: Peter Steele)”, the band pays tribute to one of their fallen heroes. I expected it to be dark and gloomy in Type O fashion, but to my surprise, it’s upbeat and triumphant, quite a tribute to the man. Musically, they take on little bits of Type O’s style – the guitar sound, the keys, and Canion nails Steele’s biting bass tone. Continuing in the Gothic side of things, there are brief dark passages in “He Will Remain” that showcase Estrin’s distinctive vocal approach and in “Feuer Meiner Zeit” he sings in his native German. The only song that didn’t really grab me was “She Takes Me (Into the Morning Light)”, a sequel to “Into the Morning Light” (from 2003’s Element V). Although catchy and upbeat, it didn’t really recreate or capture the vibe or the spark of the original and just didn’t really click overall.
Production wise, anything less than what they have already achieved would have been a major letdown, with Swedish producer extraordinaire Jens Bogren (Opeth, Katatonia, Soilwork) mixing with stellar results.
For years, Voyager felt like my little secret, but they have rapidly gained a growing fanbase due to consistent releases and extensive worldwide touring and The Meaning of I shows the fruits of their hard work. They knocked at the door with Element V, turned the knob with uniVers, cracked it ajar with I am the ReVolution and kicked it open with The Meaning of I. Hello world, meet Voyager. They are ready to captivate your ears , eyes and all other senses. Are you ready? You better be.
1. Momentary Relapse of Pain
2. Stare Into the Night
3. Seize the Day
5. The Pensive Disarray
6. He Will Remain
7. The Meaning of I
8. Iron Dream (In Memoriam: Peter Steele)
9. Feuer Meiner Zeit
10. Fire of the Times
11. She Takes Me (Into the Morning Light)
12. It’s Time to Know
13. Are You Shaded?