Voyager – The Meaning Of I
Voyager falls into a doubtlessly fair-sized pool of albums from 2011 that I wasn’t able to hear during the year. After receiving a broadside of synthy progressive metal from them, I ordered The Meaning Of I on an impulse, and it has rapidly risen into the upper echelon of a year already full of fine progressive metal releases.
Voyager has been around for a while, but I’d never heard of them before. Excusable perhaps, given that my obsession with discovery typically runs to power metal, but still somewhat remarkable for a band releasing their fourth studio album. Quickly, I discovered that Voyager defies easy comparison to any of the typical cornerstones of the genre, but bundle a great deal of influences together into a wicked progressive curveball filled with many of our favorite features of the genre.
Being Australian, Daniel Estrin’s lead vocals are quite clearly shaped by his country’s somewhat unique pronunciation tendencies of the English language. This is just one of the many things that help create Voyager’s rather singular sound. Though some of the vocal melodies remind me of Vanden Plas, the squirming background synths of Star One, and the somewhat simplistic yet progressive arrangements of Keldian, little else about Voyager parallels these other acts. In fact, with the guest appearance of D.C. Cooper, the chorus of power metal tune “Fire Of The Times”, and the serene melody of “She Takes Me”, I briefly wonder if I’m hearing Royal Hunt, Merging Flare, and British neo-proggers I.Q. respectively.
Indeed, if ever there was a melodic prog album worthy of the descriptor “amorphous”, it is The Meaning Of I. Through it all, however, Voyager manages to maintain very slick songwriting and never overuses any element of their music. Guitars are present and heavy enough to maintain a metal edge, but never carry on by themselves for very long. Synths are omnipresent and lend the album a spacey feel on most songs, but are never forced or pointless feeling. There are even a few harsh vocals here and there, used purely as an accent, and really quite tasteful. My personal favorite song, “Iron Dreams”, an homage to former Type O Negative frontman Peter Steele, adds a stunning chorus, superb keyboards, and a round of touching Latin vocals to keep the listener’s rapt attention for the duration.
Instantly a frontrunner in Australian metal, this album is one that any serious fan of melodic progressive metal needs to hear. It’s one of the few prog recordings from last year that will remain in regular rotation in my own playlist, and should move the band decidedly into the spotlight of their niche of progressive metal, standing next to household names like Vanden Plas, Shadow Gallery, and Anubis Gate.
Dan’s Rating: 4.25 out of 5