Voyager – V
Voyager – V (2014)
Reviewed by Daniel Millard
Summer is looking to be a bright spot for the progressive metal scene, and leading the charge is Perth’s most charming outfit, Voyager. Having jumped on the band’s train just after the release of The Meaning Of I, I’ve been keeping tabs on its progress (and Kickstarter campaign) with eager ears. Opener and single “Hyperventilating” has been an encouraging source of sustenance for the last couple of months, and at last the predictably titled V has arrived upon our auditory doorsteps.
I recall predicting, after familiarizing myself with The Meaning Of I, that Voyager was likely to continue that album’s vibe in upcoming days. I was hopeful for another infusion of the power metal that made “Fire Of The Times” such a bang-up hit in my book, but was destined to be a bit disappointed. I’ve had a bit of trouble putting my finger on the differences in V, but one thing I keep coming back to is a lack of variety in the songs, and a sense that the band’s formula, though slick, quirky, and fun, is maybe getting stretched a bit far. The Meaning Of I had some pretty similar songs, but had extremely strong anchors in the latter part of the album with “Iron Dream” and “Fire Of The Times”. V features no such late-game hook, and even “The Morning Light”, a re-recording of the same song from the band’s debut – and in keeping with references to other songs (“Iron Will” and obviously “She Takes Me”), is the only late track that doesn’t seem forgettable in comparison to earlier entries on the album.
Yes, I’d judge V as being about as top-heavy as albums come. While my feelings on “Hyperventilating” are only moderately warm, “Breaking Down” is the kind of track I’d have expected from I Am The ReVolution – with a greater emphasis on syncopation and the kind of repetitious, burrowing chorus that I associate with that album’s songs. “You The Shallow” is a corker, and “Embrace The Limitless” throws out another of the band’s silky-smooth favorites, but after this point, the memorability of V takes a bit of a nose dive, with only a song or two outstanding. I appreciate Voyager’s rather unique take on the genre, but when numerous songs are crafted in the same fashion, no matter how endearing or eclectic it may be, there is inevitably space for redundancy and self-derivation. While that happened only a little on The Meaning Of I, it begins to bite the band a bit harder here.
As a bit of a side note, my colleague Dagg is often to be heard talking about how djent is taking an increasingly hefty hand in shaping modern progressive metal, and Voyager’s music is experiencing a creep in this direction as well – check the staggered riffing in songs like “The Domination Game” and “Peacekeeper”. Normally I enjoy this influence, but at this point in the album, I can’t help but wonder if it’s a means of reaching for something inventive because the core compositions are lacking in creative initiative.
Broadly, I’m mildly disappointed in V, but only mildly. There’s still a substantial amount of great material on the album (especially packed into the first five or six songs), and I would anticipate that most or all previous fans of the band are going to enjoy this. It’s not the worst place for entry for those who aren’t familiar either, as Danny’s smooth vocals, the unconventional melodies, and the varied dual riffing that are all the band’s trademarks are quite prominent. I’ll be picking this up, with the caveat that it’s something of a victory lap for a band that’s capable of better.
3.75 // 5