For the better part of a decade, progressive metal has enjoyed a major surge in popularity, spearheaded by bands such as Periphery, TesseracT and Animals As Leaders, with razor-sharp production and impeccable musicianship being among its most distinguishing features. However, as this renaissance begins to peter out in favour of more raw, organic sounds, you would be forgiven that thinking that this strain of heavy music was a spent force. Enter ‘Inmazes’, the debut album from Danish four-piece Vola.
Opening with the grinding, mechanical riffs of ‘The Same War’, Vola are quick to establish their expansive sonic palette. Many of the hallmarks of the genre are here, winding song structures, complex Meshuggah-esque rhythms and monolithic soundscapes, but it is the execution of these well-worn elements that make them feel fresh and exciting.
Take fourth track ‘Owls’ – initially dominated by Nicolai Mogensen’s throaty bass tone and the menacing croon of guitarist/vocalist Asper Mygind, the chaos present in the song’s first act melts effortlessly into an incredibly melodic and affecting motif that expands and evolves throughout the remainder of the track.
Despite the clinical precision that underpins this record, there is plenty of warmth here too, and this immediately separates Vola from many of their contemporaries. Sure, there are moments here that’ll be familiar to the average techhead – the Devin Townsend influence on ‘Gutter Moon’ is undeniable, but equally, the likes of ‘Feed The Creatures’ and ‘Emily’ incorporate electronica in a way that is more than just the typical lip service paid by many bands of this ilk.
What is most astounding is how fully realised this record feels – futurist cinematic flare and churning heaviness are entwined with incredible songwriting – it’s easy to forget that this is a debut. Progressive metal may not be as en vogue as it was five years ago, but for those who have stuck with it, ‘Inmazes’ is a must-have release.
‘Inmazes’ by Vola is on Mascot Records.
Words by Josh Graham (@jollyboyjosh_)