Votum – Metafiction Review

Votum // Metafiction
Rating: 2.0/5.0 —Some good things, but largely forgettable
Label: Mystic (PL)
Websites: votumband.pl | myspace.com/votumband
Release Dates: PL: 19.11.2009 | Rest of the World: 03.21.2010

Poland’s progressive rock and metal scene has definitely been strong of late. In the last year I’ve discovered some really great bands, particularly Indukti and Riverside which have just blown me away from the Polish scene. Turns out Poland doesn’t have just black metal and death metal in their veins, but instead there are a good number of proggy dudes who really dig the new wave of prog that has been pushing its way into metal in the last decade. Votum’s second album is another one of these Polish prog rock records that’s definitely influenced by neo-prog bands like Porcupine Tree, Opeth and Anathema. In 2008, Votum released their first album Time Must Have a Stop, which impressed some but left me cold. Metafiction is the next step in the band’s development, but still doesn’t impress.

Metafiction is an LP friendly 45 minutes of progressive rock that is really meant to appeal to fans of the aforementioned bands. And while it is an admirable attempt at creating the same kind of intelligent, interesting music as those other bands it doesn’t have the same kind of depth, originality and clean approach that the other bands do well. While Porcupine Tree, Opeth and Riverside all are able to walk the fine line between prog and pop music, which keeps the listener interested in their songs despite them being long sometimes, Votum has trouble with their songs feeling drawn out, simplistic and repetitive at times. On top of that, this record is remarkably weak vocally and especially lyrically. Vocalist Maciej Kosinski is remarkably talented, but his voice feels like it doesn’t fit the music at all. He sounds like he would be way more comfortable in a progressive metal band along the lines of Dream Theater than this post-rock kind of progressive rock. While this isn’t the end of the world, it’s sort of like rubbing cloth in the wrong direction. It just feels weird after a while.

I truly enjoyed several parts of several songs, but there wasn’t an entire song on the entire album that I found to be truly gripping. Instead, the tracks slip through one ear and out the other back into obscurity. The things that actually stand out for me are not the good, but instead the bad. The lyrics are not very good, seeming oddly trite and unpoetic at times, reaching their peak of bad with the final track “December 20th,” which is a poorly executed attempt at writing about synchronicity. The stuff that really stands out in a good way is when these guys show off their metal influences, like at the beginning of “Glassy Essence” or in “Stranger than Fiction” which is easily the best song on the record. But unfortunately these things are too few and far between to keep things fresh.

This could be a case of sophomore slump, as this is the band’s second album. Or, I could entirely be missing the point as I’m really not a fan of Porcupine Tree, either, who Votum has quite a lot of similarities to. But really Metafiction is not the impressive display of musical and pop sensibilities that we have witnessed from other Polish prog bands over the last few years. Hopefully they’ll hit their stride with their third album, but this is probably one you can pass on and not be missing a whole heck of a lot.

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