The progressive Danish-Sweden quartet known as Vola has deservedly made a name for itself within the progressive scene with the help of its first two albums. In the meantime, they have also gained recognition among its peers and music enthusiasts around the world, so when the news of a third record came out, expectations peaked.
For many bands, the third album is a vital one. It might be the record that elevates them to another level, both creatively and in terms of notoriety, so Vola had a significant challenge ahead of them, especially if they wanted to overcome the great impressions produced by the stunning “Applause of a Distant Crowd”. After listening to “Witness”, I found that the quartet surpassed any expectations and delivered a new record full of memorable moments that should give them anything that a brilliant third album can provide.
Despite constantly defying any categorization with the blending of eclectic elements that convey with their constant unexpected musical directions, Vola has maintained in its discography a distinctive combination of power provided by intricate polyrhythms with melodic and subtle passages, resulting in a collection of dynamic and intriguing tracks.
Sonically, the gear of Vola’s machinery proves to be perfectly oiled after the stability gained in the musician’s line-up. Each member gets its chance to shine, and their contribution turns vital into its evolving and appealing sound. The music is full of nuances and details that are hard to believe that Vola is a quartet.
Thematically, Vola presents a fascinating concept in which the band positions the listener as a witness of different tragic experiences that affect humans, showing gray tones regarding our human condition and the world’s current reality. The fact that such events can happen to any of us makes the concept harsher and thoughtful.
With “Witness”, Vola once again presents their unique combination, proving how well they have mastered their approach full of contrasts, dynamism, and intrigue. For instance, the opening track “Straight Lines” unfolds between such elements by presenting a demanding display of their technical abilities where the syncopate lines dictate the initial part of the song while suddenly their melodic aspect enters, gaining strength as the catchy and euphonic chorus strikes. A soft bridge calms the intensity, keeping the track fresh and exciting, as a brief yet brilliant synth solo by Martin Werner guides the transition to the chorus and the heavy closing parts.
The fact that the listener knows the characteristic blending that Vola portrays through its music does not mean that it is predictable. On the contrary, there are several curveballs throughout the album. Each song has a hidden surprise that the listener did not see coming, as is the case in “Head Mounted Sideways”, where robotic vocals by Asger Mygind infuse the track with a steampunk atmosphere that gains in density and heaviness thanks to crushing guitar riffs. Once the chorus meets the listener, the vocals return to their typical delivery, and the driven melodic elements appear.
Speaking of unexpected turns, “The Black Claws” encloses the album’s biggest surprise by introducing the highly eclectic mix of electronic, hip-hop, rap, and heavy polyrhythm derived from Vola’s collaboration with featuring duo Shahmen. For odd as it seems, the result is a provocative track that delves into addiction and its severe afflictions. The meeting of such diverse approaches creates an overwhelming and ominous atmosphere that adequately portrays the track’s theme.
The dynamic blending of heavy, complex, and technical musicianship with the narrow and mellow elements remains balanced for most songs, providing tracks with contrasting structures, intensity, and sensations. However, there are songs in which the scale is closer to the soft and tuneful, just as in the case of “Freak”, which is not a coincidence that it is positioned as the middle track. After a ride full of sudden turns, constant changes of pace, ferocity, and heaviness, it serves as a splendid relief that delves into melodic and ethereal territory that allows the listener to catch his breath before returning to the technical display of heavy and intricate artillery with the harmonious contrasts.
Overall, Vola portrays with “Witness” a terrific album that, with its cinematic essence, represents a compelling concept through which the listener becomes a witness of the shocking narrative that introduces visceral situations that can affect us all. It also presents a solid band that has mastered the craft of blending intensity, heaviness, and intricate musicianship with melodic passages, catchy choruses, and heartfelt emotions. The band has overcome with authority the challenge of delivering a memorable third album that should enshrine them within the modern progressive metal scene.
Released by: Mascot Records
Released Date: May 21st, 2021
Genre: Progressive Metal
- Asger Mygind / vocals, guitar
- Martin Werner / keys
- Nicolai Mogensen / bass
- Adam Janzi / drums
- Straight Lines
- 24 Light-Years
- These Black Claws (feat. SHAHMEN)
- Future Bird
- Stone Leader Falling Down
- Inside Your Fur
- Head Mounted Sideways
With “Witness”, Vola demonstrates how well they have mastered their distinctive blending of aggressiveness, technicality, and heaviness with a contrasting melodic and subtle component, leaving room for many surprises and unexpected twists throughout the album, keeping it fresh and intriguing.