In this modern age of online music procurement, fans certainly have much greater access to the music of the bands they love. One of the many unfortunate side effects of this accessibility, besides the loss of well-deserved revenue by these artists, is the tendency for people to acquire single songs as opposed to entire albums. In many cases a music lover will miss out on many great tunes as well as the continuity of a well written and arranged complete album.
The modern prog-metal masterpiece, Inmazes by VOLA, definitely commands multiple listens from beginning to end. Inmazes is a 2016 re-release of a previous digital version from 2015, now under the flag of the Mascot Label Group. This amazing four-piece consists of mastermind Asger Mygind on guitar and vocals; Martin Werner playing keyboards; Nicolai Mogensen on bass; and Felix Ewert drumming.
Every one of the ten tracks on this album is a gem. The opening track, titled The Same War baits the listener’s attention with a lone, low fi version of the main guitar riff. As one is doing the “math” of the riff, the song kicks in full tilt and the listener is ambushed by the penetrating midrange assault of Mygind’s guitar tone. The strange futuristic off-time riff is expertly painted on Felix Ewert’s bounce-inducing, (seemingly) straight-time beats. This technique creates expanded depth to an already rich soundscape, and is found throughout the album.
Stray The Skies contains at least two of the elements that I believe are absolutely crucial to a top-notch song, a strong chorus, and an undeniable melody. Keyboardist Martin Werner leads the way with the intro and chorus melody on this tune. Tension is created during the choppy, hammering verses, then released in the soaring choruses. Using a similar “ambush” move as in the opening track, Starburn draws you in with a soothing touch harmonic intro, then plunges you into an intense heavy rock soundscape. Werner’s keys, Mygind’s guitar tones, and unsung hero Nicolai Mogensen’s bass tones all blend perfectly together, all picking up sonically where the other leaves off.
The next two tracks take us deeper into colorful VOLA territory. Owls has Asger singing the intro in a slightly lower register along with the ever-lurking fuzzy bass lines, again creating and releasing tensions as the song opens up. These releases are colored by warm synth sounds and Mygind’s spot-on falsetto flourishes. Your Mind is a Helpless Dreamer brings a slightly psychotic opening riff catapulting the listener into yet another gigantic reverb laden chorus. The lovely, tender Emily offers a brief warm respite from the mind stimulating mathematics and sheer energy of the rest of the album, only to soar away in a melancholy, synth-illustrated flight.
The balance of this ten track cd stays quite strong to the end, offering even more great song writing, structure, and lyrical themes. Gutter Moon features a wonderful old school portamento style synth melody. The drum tracks are fairly economical and set a little back in the mix, but are more than adequate in defining the complex topography of the VOLA soundscapes. Stare Without Eyes, my personal favorite (at this particular moment), fuels the fire with very juicy riffs, upbeat tempo, and a heroic chorus. Speaking yet again of the power of the chorus, Feed the Creatures unleashes yet another adrenaline inducing chorus after a long, slow build. The VOLA crew bring us in for a landing with the thoughtful title track. Inmazes is the perfect epilogue to a nearly perfect album in this reviewers humble opinion. The song contains intricate song structures, ebbs and flows, emotional dynamics, and even a smooth, almost Gilmouresque guitar solo in the early part of the song.
VOLA, like all great acts, have taken the tools and components of their greatest influences and created something beautiful and original. Asger Mygind and his team of technicians have engineered a complete album that is both complex and easy to absorb. I am looking forward to future works by this relatively young band! To hear and/or read an in depth interview with VOLA’s Asger Mygind by roving reporter Iris Hidding, go click on this link: https://grendelhq.wordpress.com/2016/09/07/iris-interviews-asger-mygind-of-vola/
A review by Clint Smith (DJ Mowsee)
You can watch the video clip of Starburn here: