Voyager // The Meaning of I
Rating: 5.0/5.0 —In space, no one can hear my fanboyism.
Label: Sensory Records
Websites: voyager-australia.com | myspace.com/voyageraustralia
Release Dates: October 11th, 2011 [Worldwide!]
Now here’s something quite a bit different! Australia’s Voyager has been tinkering with their odd blend of progressive space metal for a while now. However, here on album number four The Meaning of I, they’ve really hit on the perfect blend of influences and styles. Taking elements of traditional, power, progressive and even death metal, Voyager fuses it all together and the result is an odd, hyper-melodic and unique album that’s as intelligent as it is catchy (and its VERY catchy). As a big fan of their 2009 release I Am the Revolution, I expected great things and even I was surprised by how good this ended up. With traces of Nevermore, Star One, Tyr, Pagan’s Mind, Scar Symmetry, Vanden Plas and Anubis Gate swirling about in a creative maelstrom, you should certainly expect the unexpected. Despite the plethora of influences, The Meaning of I ends up a cohesive and compelling release with one killer song after another and brains til Tuesday. In case that doesn’t have you interested yet, they may be the only metal band currently using a melodica both in the studio and live. Call them spacey-prog or astral-metal but whatever tag you throw on them, they rock muchly. Can you tell Steel Druhm is impressed? He is.
Any album worth it’s salt has to have a great lead off and Voyager gives us “Momentary Relapse of Pain” and its a fitting introduction to their oddball sound and approach. Featuring heavy, crunching riffs akin to Nevermore, the highly effective vocals of Daniel Estrin and enough spacey keyboard effects to knock Arjen Lucassen right out of his Official Star Trek Captain’s Chair, this is one catchy somnabitch (check out that righteous melodica at 2:43). Estrin’s chants of “I feel so empty” have a cold, somber feel and the whole thing really works well. Followup “Stare Into the Night” is even better, with a chorus that simply can’t be unheard or forgotten. Estrin has a strange syncopated way of singing and it results in extremely interesting, memorable moments like this winning chorus. I actually struggled to stop replaying it and get to the rest of the album. Thankfully, there’s tons more quality here like “Seize the Day” with its huge chorus, surprise death vocals and wild keyboard/guitar work (especially from 2:55 on). Tracks like “Broken” (great pre/chorus and chorus) and “The Pensive Disarray” (great vocal patterns and excellently emotive guitar work) will enthrall and captivate if given the slightest chance to do so.
Every song here has a special mood and magic and perhaps none more so than “Iron Dreams” which is a touching tribute to the late Peter Steele (Carnivore, Type O Negative). Featuring a stylistic departure from their core sound, this one blends in a lot of the classic Type O sound, including a dead ringer for Mr. Steele joining in on vocals (I’m not sure who performs those vox). It’s quite a bittersweet number for those who loved Mr. Steele’s music. Honorable mention goes to the great “Fire of the Times” which juxtaposes heavy riffing with a jaunty, bouncing NWOBHM riff and super hooky vocals reminiscient of Tyr.
Across the length of The Meaning of I, there’s a very high level of technical skill and a lot of interesting guitar, key and yes, melodica work. Guitarists Scott Kay and Simone Dow impress on every track and there’s some wild interplay with the keys. Holding all the craziness together are Estrin’s rock-solid vocals. The man has such an interesting approach and delivery and his syncopated vocal patterns are intriguing and always memorable. Besides that, the guy can flat-out sing and has a great tone and range. Sometimes sounding like Geoff Tate, other times more like Jacob Hansen (ex-Anubis Gate). He’s the secret weapon that makes Voyager go.
The Meaning of I is one of those rare albums that impresses at first listen and keeps getting better with each successive spin. There’s so many little nuances and details littered about, you can listen for days and still hear new things. A triumph of progressive, yet accessible writing and stellar musicianship, this album blows me away and earns the first perfect score of 2011. This is the ideal album to blast as you secretly build your space/time disruption device or interocitor and all lovers of melodic, proggy metal must give this a try (as well as their last album). This is the meaning of kick ass!