It seems rarer and rarer to see a well executed concept album, one that demands listening to the whole thing, instead of having a collection of tracks. UK-based band Voices has released a sophomore album that harkens back to the heyday of immersive, demanding, and wonderfully executed concept albums. The story is set in the band’s home of London, with the dirt of the city serving as an apt setting. Voices features members of the recently disbanded Akercocke, so you know you’re dealing with something where off-kilter is the norm. Thankfully, the band is here to offer one of the most delightfully maddening listens you’ll have all year.
London tells the story of a man going insane, and the music is happy to play along. Sure, the foundation here is blackened progressive death metal, but that’s such a narrow view of what’s going on here. This is progressive metal first and insane extreme metal second, where blast beats and horrifying vocals swirl in and out. There are clean vocals throughout, but, if anything, they are even more eerie than any harsh vocals. It’s what would happen if Blut Aus Nord, Anaal Nathrakh, Opeth, Scenes from a Memory-era Dream Theater, and, of course, Akercocke were melded into one. This is a dizzying listen, but it’s difficult not to be left astonished at the results, even if it’s perfectly normal to feel a tad nauseous.
As previously stated, London is an album first and a collection of songs second. There are a few songs that can be picked out (the back half is full of choice cuts, including “Hourglass”); however, that was clearly not the aim here. Voices has certainly crafted a challenging and harsh listen, but that doesn’t diminish how impressive the full result is, given you have the time and energy to take a harrowing journey with these Englishmen.