Voyager // The Meaning of I
Rating: 5.0/5.0 —In space, no one can hear my fanboyism.
Label: Sensory Records
Websites: |
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.Voyager - The Meaning of the I 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!

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  • Dominic Markert

    discovered Voyager with their “I Am The Revolution”-release and was totally blown away. They delivered great melodies and ideas song after song after song, without a single boring one.

    after first listening to the new album, i found the melodies not as strong as on revolution, but they developed their songwriting a great deal. with every spin, the album starts growing on me.

    Anyway, very good review, and good job of spreading the word of this, in may opinion, heavily underrated band.

    • Thats funny, I found this more immediate than their last album. I agree that these guys are underrated but I think this album will change that.

      • Dominic Markert

        maybe i get this feeling because most of the melodies are not as catchy as on revolution (with some exceptions…stare into the night and seize the day stand out of course…but i find nothing on the new album that i could compare to for example Total Existance Failure)

        but i think thats a good thing. Revolution was catchy, with enough progressive parts to keep those busy who like to listen closer. The new album takes this approach to the next level, giving prog-people more parts to crunch through

  • A lot of progressive goodies lately, huh ?  Leprous, Anubis Gate, Arch/Matheos and now this. Me is very happy :D

  • Al Tatts

    Not a fan of this kind of music, but you’ve so adroitly (two uses in one week on the AMG page!) steered me onto some pretty cool stuff of late Mr Druhm, so I’ll give it a try.

    You will still review the new Entrails at some stage though won’t you?

    • If you like Anubis Gate, odds are you’ll dig this. As for Entrails, I think it posts this week, maybe tomorrow.

  • Nathan Binns

    As a Perth resident I have had the privilege of seeing these guys live several times. It is very sad that despite their plainly evident awesomeness (and believe me they are an AWESOME live act) they’ve never had any mainstream recognition here whatsoever, and very little recognition of any sort anywhere else.  The biggest complement you can give a band from Western Australia is “you guys would be HUGE if you weren’t from Perth!” and Voyager I think are a living testament to that. 

    • Well, I obviously agree they should get some serious recognition. This and their last album were great!

  • Anonymous

    Since I now find myself living in Perth as well, I guess I really should jump on this bandwagon. The review and high praise really are too much to ignore.
    Happily, I did pick up the Anubis Gate disc from last week’s review and had Leprous lined up next – but maybe that’s been bumped down the list. Gotta support the local talent!

  • Absoultly love the song stare into the night. I just love when that happens, when fantastic music comes out of nowhere and bites you in the ass! 

  • I’m enjoying this album. Refreshing is the best way I would describe it. This album is great. Though not sure if its worth a rating of 5 but its easily a 4.5. Great review, you nailed it. The “special mood and magic” each song has is what makes this album so amazing. 

    All in all this album makes my day beautiful. 

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  • Sam Marx

    I picked this up on your recommendation, and seriously have not been able to stop listening to it for two weeks now. Dangerously catchy, deceptively complex.

  • Josh Fahey

    Took me a few listens to really get into this album, but I suppose the vast majority of prog music is like that, the sort that you need to evaluate a few times to fully appreciate or dismiss it. All in all I’d say it’s a pretty solid record, for me it still doesn’t come close to uniVers, which in my eyes is their all time greatest album. But I do like this one more than I Am The Revolution. 

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  • Zadion

    Awesome stuff! I can’t believe how catchy EVERY song is, despite the intelligent songwriting. Me gusta.

    • Glad you liked it! This is one addicting album!

  • manuel cufre

    Great review for this great album, lot’s of nice prog lately! 

  • AstralAether

    This is a good review which truly describes Voyager’s sound on The Meaning Of I.

  • I can hear Your fanboyism in Space. This is a good review which truly describes the sound of The Meaning Of I by Voyager. There is not one thing in it which I disagree with. I love Danny Estrin’s vocals – personally, it is the greatest element on this album (and even on the Progressive House remix of Lost by Mathematrixx – the reason why I like the song is His vocals without which the song would not sound so good). The guitars and the drumming are also wonderful and awesome. The album has this spacey sound, rightly. The keyboards contribute greatly. The Meaning Of I is an interesting and intelligent album to listen to, musically as well as lyrically. The melodies are strong and catchy. The Meaning Of I is purely perfect.