Voices – Frightened album review

Akercocke-aligned renegades Voices take a thrilling left turn

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Frightened

1. Unknown
2. Rabbits Curse
3. Evaporated
4. IWSYA
5. Dead Feelings
6. Manipulator
7. Funeral Day
8. Fascinator
9. Home Movies
10. Sequences
11. Footsteps

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Now three records deep, Voices are cultivating a discography to rival and arguably transcend that of their founding members, drummer David Gray and guitarist Sam Loynes’ original outfit, Akercocke – the band whose sexualised Satanism delivered with a svelte hammerblow saw their 2011 break-up and recent reformation receive dismay and joy in equal amounts. Not that their fluctuating status deterred David and Sam, who in moving forward with Voices retained their knack for exultant extremity while widening their subject matter, ditching Satan for a wider exploration of human suffering, inspired by cinema and delivered with silver-screen scope. 

Frightened expands further still, moving away from the punishing urbanity of 2016 concept album London into more mellifluous, yet at times no less intimidating pastures. A more pensive affair from the off, Unknown acts as a herald for forthcoming sonic departures, exploring melancholically progressive territories, Peter Benjamin’s chilling melodic vocal offset by anguished howls as the track teeters on the brink of chaos, eventually taking full advantage of David’s extreme percussive abilities. Evaporated exemplifies their knack for punishment fearlessly combined with hooks and melodies that wouldn’t sound odd on a Police record. Influences from prog aeons past continue, tumble-down fills straight out of the Neil Peart playbook punctuating the black metal-meets-Bauhaus of Dead Feelings and the sorrowful yet brazen stomp of Funeral Day. Sequences further explores post-punk leanings, a caustic rifforama leading into the heart-rending strings of Footsteps

For those who found London to be an exemplary modern progression upon their blackened death metal template, Frightened may be a step too far, but it’s a bold and accomplished broadening of Voices’ horizons that retains much of their intricate extremity within an expanded emotional and sonic framework. Another modern progressive masterpiece to add to their repertoire.