Voyager_VAustralia’s Voyager has stealthily grown into one of my favorite bands over the past five years. While I was suitably impressed by 2009s I Am the Revolution, I was utterly blown away by 2011s The Meaning of I, to which I gave an extremely rare perfect score. They have a very distinctive sound and approach to power-prog and their ear for melody and hooks is second only to Anubis Gate. Naturally, as the release of V grew near I became giddy like a school girl at a Justin Bieber kissing booth. Now I’ve spent some serious time with and it actually comes close to my high expectations…at first. This is really a tale of two albums: the first half is one slick, smooth, memorable song after another, but the second half drops way off, becoming far more pedestrian and unremarkable. V also sacrifices heaviness for more poppish melodies and their musical palette seems less diverse than before, but when it works, it works very well. Unfortunately, that’s only about 60% of the time here.

The first six songs are all very good to great examples of power-prog as seen through Voyager‘s unique musical prism, but all are lighter and more restrained than their recent material. Opener “Hyperventilating” picks up right where The Meaning of I left off and has that same progtastic mix of smooth-as-silk vocals, offbeat riffing and melodious keyboards. It’s a strange song, but the kind Voyager does so well and it sticks in your head like a tick. Better still is “Breaking Down,” which has everything I love about this band in spades: heavy, twitchy riffing, twinkling keyboards and a big, emotional vocal performance.

Follow ups like ” A Beautiful Mistake,” “You the Shallow” and “Embrace the Limitless” are all high quality winners that will have power-prog fans in a tizzy. Then things go from nicey to dicey and while tracks like “The Domination Game” and “It’s a Wonder” are good and grow on you, it feels like something essential is missing. Others like “Peacekeeper,” “The Morning Light” and “Summer Always Comes Again” do almost nothing for me, and while they aren’t bad songs per se, they aren’t anywhere near Voyager‘s peak output and they border on filler.

Voyager_2014The album is 54 minutes in length, but has about 36 minutes of prime, A-list material, and after the early run of great songs, the back-end really suffers by comparison. The inclusion of so many “B-Team” cuts really drags V down and instead of a short and awesome platter, we get a merely good one with chaff.

The individual performances are great and the band sounds as insanely tight as ever, though Daniel Estrin’s vocals once again steal the show. Yes, he sounds a lot like Simon Le Bon (Duran Duran), but he has a huge range and a true ear for vocal phrasing and hooks. He can give even the lesser songs a jolt of interest and he’s one of the best singers in this genre. The axe-work of Simone Dow and Scott Kay also impresses with loads of interesting riffs and emotive solos. The overall heaviness is less than it was and the nervous Voivod elements are mostly gone, but they still do fine job.

The production is once again mega-polished and clean enough to lick ice cream off of. As on The Meaning of I, it borders on sterile and mechanical, but it suits the music and hey, you don’t see many Dynamic Range scores of 9.

I certainly wish Voyager had cut some of the dead weight from V, but at least they deliver 3/4ths of a great album with some instant classics to add to their resume. Despite the middling score, I still highly recommend hearing this since the first half is so damn good and nobody can touch these cats when they’re in the groove. Oh well, it was the best of times, it was the BLURST of times??

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 9  |  Format: 256 kbps AAC
Label: Nightmare Records
Release Dates: Out Worldwide (digitally) on 06.02.2014

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  • brutal_sushi

    I didn’t think that this could live up to the The Meaning of I… That album snuck up on me and blew mind, and is constantly played over and over again… That being said, I still cant wait to sink my teeth into new Voyager material… Australia just keeps pumping out stellar bands!

  • Dominic Markert

    The song is called “Breaking Down”…no vampires here ;)

    other than that, great review! Can’t wait for this one.

    • Vampires would totally listen to this.

      • Dominic Markert

        even the sparkly ones?

  • BaboonKing

    From your review, it sounds like this one will suffer the same problem as the latest Anubis Gate: a pretty good album on its own, but a step down from the band’s recent work. Ah, the bane of inflated expectations… I had sky high hopes for these two, but instead, the best prog/power I’ve heard this year came out of the blue for me: it’s Esotheric Symbolism by Teramaze (another killer Aussie band, check it out!).

    Any way, good review (and you get extra points for the Simpsons link!).

    • This one suffers more than the recent Anubis Gate, but yeah, the horror of high expectations strikes again.

    • Darren

      Oh man, thank you so much for making me aware of Teramaze and Esoteric Symbolism. Just listened to it on Spotify and loved every second of it. Gonna order a copy this Friday. Once again, thank you!

      • BaboonKing

        You are welcome! Glad you liked it, I’ve been listening to it like there’s no tomorrow.

    • Zadion

      I just listened to that for the first time myself… mother of ass, you weren’t kidding! It is, indeed, incredible. I must thank you as well!

    • brutal_sushi

      Hell yes to that Teramaze album! Glad to see other fans!

      • BaboonKing

        A pity it won’t get the AMG treatment. But perhaps we’ll get a “Things you may have missed” for it. Fingers crossed!

  • Zadion

    Oh no! It’s just what I was afraid of. I love all the samples so far, though… The Morning Light is a remake of my #1 favorite Voyager song, so there’s no way I could hate that.

    The Meaning of I was rather overrated here, though. I Am the reVolution is their true magnum opus.

  • JeremyZero

    You keep calling them power-prog, but I really hear a lot more djenty-prog in these guys, not really power. . . .

    • They incorporate some djent but they are very clearly a power-prog band.

      • Daniel Millard

        Voyager isn’t djent at all, and they’ve made about two songs that can be called power metal. Though there are a few nods in that direction, “power-prog” is very vague – I’d classify them comfortably as “melodic prog”, with the understanding that that means compact, melody-focused, and chorus-centric prog that still maintains its experimentation and complexity.

        • JeremyZero

          I’ve only heard a few songs by these guys, but to me they sound more like a better version of Periphery than a Symphony X.

          • Daniel Millard

            Yeah, that’s not a bad way to put it. They’re without a lot of the power metal influence and neoclassicism that Symph X packs in.

          • JeremyZero

            I am listening to the song “The Meaning Of I” and I totally dig it more than the two songs I’ve heard from this current album, and I suppose I can hear a little more ‘power’ in it, but I’d still be way more comfortable putting it in with the modern prog-metal acts. But in the end, it doesn’t really matter what genre it is as long as the music is good.

          • Daniel Millard

            Absolutely. Categorization is just useful for good comparisons (and, as you pointed out, putting this in the same ballpark as Symph X is not that).

            If you want a power-y song off the last album, check “Fire Of The Times”. Classic, and it has DC Cooper to boot.

          • brutal_sushi

            Meaning of I is a killer album start to finish.

        • Splitting hairs a bit aren’t you?

          • Daniel Millard

            Oh almost definitely, but it’s intellectually necessarily, I feel.

            This whole “oh, how useful is placing things in genres anyway?” followed by “oh, but it doesn’t sound like x band, it sounds more like this” sequence comes up all the time. Hence my fighting the dirty and irritating musicologist’s fight of categorization. :D

            I’m all about splitting hairs!

  • Greg Hasbrouck

    It’s funny you mention Simon LeBon. When I had a chance to interview Daniel I told him I often described Voyager as a prog metal Duran Duran, and he said he was perfectly cool with that description.

    Great review. Looking forward to the album.

  • RyanM1985

    I loved the last album amd it was here that I found out about it, thanks AMG. Remember the awesome Peter Steele tribute. I almost wore that disc out. Anyway, I’ll pick this new one up at some point. Also fuck off with that Djent shit! It’s not real and it’s pompous pricks that keep banging on about it. Goodnight.

    • JeremyZero

      Djent is pretty real man. . . . It’s not mean as a pejorative really either, at least not when I use it. It’s just a sound.

  • Zadion

    So I feel the need to comment again, as the band released the album early for Kickstarter supporters. I’m definitely impressed, thankfully, and “Peacekeeper,” “Summer Always Comes Again,” and *especially* “Seasons of Age” are some of the best Voyager tunes I’ve ever heard! However, if there was any filler in the album, “Embrace the Limitless,” “A Beautiful Mistake,” and “It’s a Wonder” are the only ones that border that line for me. Funny how subjective music is, eh?

    “Seasons of Age” is gonna be one of the best songs of the year for sure, though. Seriously.

    • I couldn’t disagree more. Though “Seasons of Age” is solid, “Peacekeeper” and “Summer Always Comes Again” felt flat and dull no matter how many times I listened.

  • Steve

    As a fan of anything that sounds Power/Prog…. i’m not feeling the Voyager love in on AMG. Sorry :(

    The hooks really aren’t there for me. It’s a more subjective thing but i’m sitting there listening, waiting for the songs to take off and it’s just not happening. I’ll probably give them another try in the future but i’d sooner recommend Seventh Wonder over these guys any day of the week.

  • Stuart Lambert

    It’s a decent album, but nowhere what I was hoping for. There’s not a track to touch something like “Staring into the night” or “Iron Dream” :(