Full disclosure; I am in the perfect position emotionally to have sappy, vacuous lyrics seem meaningful and powerful. I’m trying to stay impartial with this review, but I fully expect to look back on this piece in a few months and cringe as hard as I do when I see the high school photos of me wearing black lipstick and a bowler hat.
With that in mind; Christ I enjoy this album.
I never found myself on the Volumes bandwagon, missing their rise to the forefront of the Indistinguishable Meshuggah-Worship With Singing By Kids genre. Whenever people showed me a track it just sounded like djent soup, no better or worse than any of the others and seemingly no more deserving of success or attention because of it. But then they released “On Her Mind”…
That song, released four months ago and which features on the second half of Different Animals, is dumb as fuck and twice as enjoyable. Joining in on the “We’ve got the same tempo and beats as hip-hop” renaissance that I’m not complaining about, this ostensibly showed Volumes going a new, and some would say horrifying, direction. It had rapping over a bassline, rap-screaming over weird djent riffs, an out of place and overly-emotional chorus, and the line “when I get home let the dingaling swing.” Someone said that in a recording booth, and the band, engineer, producer, and whoever else liked it enough to publish it. And it was glorious. I liked it, and still do, because of how fun it was; just because you tune your guitars down to the threshold of human hearing doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself.
The rest of this album, maybe forgivable, is closer to a “normal” metal release, which does the raise question of why they released a track that was not at all indicative of the final product. Are they experimenting with trolling? Did they want to attract some Pouya fans? Are they drunk? I’m not sure and I don’t really care because the rest of the album is fucking great.
It starts super heavy, and spends the better part of an hour swaying between angry and pissed off, mournful and pubescent, and “risky.” There are two tracks, “Hope” and “On Her Mind”, which are essentially rap songs, there are the gut-punching (for me) choruses of “Finite” and “Pullin’ Shades” – there’s even a redundant interlude, called “Interlude”, cause why not?
I wouldn’t say this is a themed album, so much as it’s really well-balanced. Every song compliments the others without being filler, and they don’t jam all the heavy or all the tearful together. My only gripe would be that they end the album one song late – “Pullin’ Shades” is an incredible album finisher, but then we get another, perfectly acceptable “metal” track to round out the album.
The other thing I appreciated in my fragile and ultimately transient state was the underlying happiness of the album. The anger isn’t negative or facile, it’s energetic and hopeful. The sadness is reflective and nostalgic, not depressing or condescending.
Everything else is as you’d expect; flawless vocal takes, world-class tones, a mix and master you’d crowd kill your grandparents for. They’ve thankfully pulled the bass right back since “On Her Mind” was first released because Christ was that an egregious mix. This is as good as it should be, though not exactly exceptional.
While I might not find it as heart-rending in a few months when I lighten up again, I can’t imagine I won’t still be listening to this from front to back periodically. As someone who didn’t give a flying fuck about this band before this album, I’m really into Volumes now. I’ll be keen to see both what they do next, and how loudly and childishly their original fans will complain about it.
We chatted to VOLUMES in this months Digi-Mag! But, you’ll get have to get yourself a HEAVY Digi-Magazine subscription to read all about it! It will be in the next issue!
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