Volumes

No Sleep

Written by: CEM on 02/09/2014 21:55:29

Three years since their previous release and hard liquor, gambling, strippers and dead homies are what's on the agenda. Let me say that no one takes these things more seriously than the L.A. based tech/groovecore band Volumes. Born and bred in Tupac's sunshine state there was not much they could do to avoid witnessing any of these things first hand. Their honesty and self-projection towards these subjects have captured the attention of many and they don't intend on relenting any time soon. The release of their newest work comes after a long awaited online hype up that included trailers, teasers and what you would normally expect from bands of their stature. Their sophomore LP entitled “No Sleep” hit the streets on the 22nd of July scoring their highest Billboard debut as #40 on the Top 200.

The first illustrative example of intrepid sincerity is the introductory track “The Mixture” in which they openly discuss the ethical decline of the metal music industry. By not naming specifics it manages to create an overarching description of what other similar bands are going through. If I were to paint a picture of their sound I would have to start by stating that the guitars resemble a contained explosion of nitroglycerin repeatedly played back in alternate tunings. While the drums are mechanical in some ways, they closely replicate a stampede of sub-Saharan wild life thundering through an field of glass houses. Their prior release “Via” was a success in terms of commendably conjoining celestially atmospheric interludes and rhythmically obscure breakdown compositions with straight-to-the-point lyricism. Hence the reserved opinions circulating the comparison of the two albums, which to an extent is slightly redundant. The idea that their sound has been produced in order to give their fans what they want is entirely true in my opinion. They present the same chug to riff ratio, same playful melodies and the same dual vocalist dynamics. The only key difference I noticed was that they seem to be approaching more closely knit personal issues and somehow crafting an identity that wasn’t necessarily present throughout their first album.

A splendid example of this is represented in the subject matter of their first release single off of this record called “Vahle”. The name of the track stems from the last name of a dear friend that passed away in a car accident while they were on tour. In a way I was sucked into what they were feeling and for some reason the track musically imbued the words with even more emotional value. The constant struggle of chaos and tranquility seems purposeful and less frequent whereas the tone co-produced by Periphery's Misha Mansoor is substantially fatter than that on “Via”. “Up All Night”, a graceful conclusion to an ultimately superb album displays their ability to unify hard-hitting material with soulful ambience. Coalescing in the background a West Coast hi-hat sample ticks on as John Mayer-like pop vocal lines are thickly spread across a super nova of deep chords.

The album's downfall primarily derives from overly trivial lyrics, a product of their straightforwardness. “91367” and “Pistol Play” are fair examples of this and could ultimately have benefited from a more imaginative approach to their diction. Less intrinsic to the overall value would be their lack of diversification. Meaning that the breakdown centered tracks sound too similar in style and structure as well as the tracks where clean vocals are employed sound similar in melody. Lead vocalists Michael Barr and Gus Farias’ conversations function creatively and bring this lacking to a purely instrumental level. Having brought in former Periphery member Casey Sabol to do the cleans on “Up All Night” and “Across The Bed” represents their craving for something contrastive but I'm not entirely sure if it satisfies those awaiting change.

Sifting through the flood of core influenced “Djent” acts you rarely end up finding bands that really strike you as trailblazing or trendsetting. To put it bluntly a fair share lack refined imagery, as all that spiritual cosmos album art gets old real quick in my opinion. Others have yet to find a sound that doesn't remind you of Meshuggah *cough “91367” *cough. Volumes are for the most part the latter. Perhaps it was their environment that helped them reach a reliable target audience or the fact that they have consistently self-engineered their albums or even the fact that they incorporate hip-hop aesthetics into their music and fashion but the L.A. quintet have definitely leapt from a relatively unknown entity to a household expression. If you happened to catch them at this years Warped Tour, you might have witnessed the reality of my previous statement. All in all the album is a must-listen to those who enjoyed “Via” and will unquestionably suite their discography in the future. No flat out bad songs, a couple of fan favorites and an overall professionalism that leaves you begging for more. Something that doesn't surprise me as the whole thing only lasts 34 minutes in total.

Download: Vahle, The Mixture, 91367, Neon Eyes
For The Fans Of: Bermuda, Issues, Meshuggah, Northlane, Emmure
Listen: facebook.com/volumesband

Release date 22.06.2014
Mediaskare Records

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