I’ve been looking forward to Voice of the Soul’s new EP (the band’s third release) since hearing one of the songs from it that was included on a compilation released in July (discussed here). The new EP is now available. It’s called Into Oblivion, and VOTS is offering it for download at a “name your price” option on the handy Bandcamp platform at this location.
I was impressed with the band’s last EP, 2010’s Eyes of Deceit, and I said so. But honestly, Into Oblivion represents a large leap forward, or more like a stretching of wings. What was once a fledgling predator is now a rapidly maturing raptor, with big claws that can do some damage, and an even more impressive ability to take flight on the wings of some very memorable melodies. That’s what solid melodic death metal should do, and it’s what VOTS achieves on Into Oblivion — a combining of sharp-edged aggression and streams of melody that swirl in your head.
The first two songs on the EP, “Immolation” (with its beautiful piano-and-strings intro) and “Guardians of Genocide”, establish the fundamental elements of the band’s sound. Up-tempo, thumping rhythms and rolling, distorted riffs provide the foundation, but what makes the songs memorable are the reverberating guitar solos.
I was explaining in one of yesterday’s posts that after years of listening to metal, even whiz-bang bursts of shred, standing alone, aren’t enough to carry the day for me any more. For a guitar solo to impress, it needs to be an organic part of the song as a whole and it needs a lot of soul behind it; that’s more important than rampant speed and even technical brilliance. The soloing in these songs (as on all the rest) meets those tests. The solos aren’t usually pyrotechnical, but they’re beautifully done, with a warm, clean tone and a strong emotional core. (more after the jump . . .)
The third song, “Pandemonium”, pulls the cloak of menace more completely around the music, as compared to the first two songs. Where Kareem Chehayeb’s vocals on the first two songs were a balance between harsh growls and strangled rasping, the latter are more dominant on this song, and the blackening of the music is enhanced by layers of tremolo guitar and fast distorted leads. Yet it, too, is balanced by another one of those swirling guitar solos.
I won’t say much about “Cast Away in Betrayal” because I’ve already discussed it. It’s probably my favorite song on the album, maybe in part because I’ve been listening to it off and on since it debuted on that Louciferian Gathering comp. It really is a hell of a song, with a fantastic chorus. But though it may be the best song on the EP, it’s not the most ambitious.
That honor goes to “Wither”, the track that follows it. At almost 11 minutes, it’s the EP’s longest song, and the most varied. The pacing is slower, even stately. Acoustic guitar instrumentals bring moments of peace, but the song is still plenty heavy. It’s a showcase for multiple guitar solos that give the song, overall, an aura of somber beauty.
The EP’s final track is a cover of “Under A Serpent Sun” by At the Gates. It’s a fitting tribute, given the level of AtG influence in the music of VOTS, but it was also a risky choice. The song is well-known and well-loved by serious fans of melodic death metal, and covering the song will inevitably lead to comparisons. But VOTS does a very nice job with the cover. They stay close to the original, and guitarists Kareem Chehayeb and Monish Shringi, in particular, once again prove they’ve got the chops to pull this off convincingly. If you’re an AtG fan, this fitting close to the EP will bring a smile to your face.
Age-wise, VOTS are still a very young band, but with each release they’ve been making big strides forward in the maturity of their song-writing and the sharpness of their performances. Keep your eyes on them, and fix your ears on this:
P.S. In the “small world” category, Steve de Pina, the keyboardist and folk instrumentalist of South Africa’s Riddare Av Koden, who we featured in a recent post, makes a guest appearance on the EP, providing keyboards on “Wither”.
P.P.S. I really like the art created for the EP. Here’s the front and the back, folded out: