Released: 2009, Dockyard 1
Once again, the fantastically multi-talented band from Perth, Australia stuns us with their well-crafted and surprisingly heart-warming album I AM THE REVOLUTION. If you’ve never heard of Voyager before, now is the time to rectify that.
With two genre-defying albums under their belt already, 2003’s ELEMENT V and 2007’s UNIVERS, it might be harsh on the band to characterise 2009 as their breakthrough year, and I AM THE REVOLUTION as their breakthrough album. After all, the band enjoys a strong cult following both in their native Australia and in Europe, and they have opened for some major bands including Steve Vai and Queensryche, and were to have played at Progpower UK 2008 before it was cancelled. But what I mean to say is that their 2009 offering is slightly more metal-oriented than its predecessors, and this could be the album that makes metalheads sit up and take notice. Prog fans will no longer hog this gem of a band all to themselves.
ELEMENT V had a space-rock vibe and 80s Europop feel that made it special and carved out Voyager’s niche in their listeners’ consciousnesses. It was light yet melancholy, having an air of whimsy about it. Imagine A-HA going all Dream Theater but recruiting Depeche Mode as creative contributors. UNIVERS was slightly more ponderous, slightly heavier, less playful – Symphony X, Amorphis and In Flames have joined the party and Depeche Mode has just upped the ante, telling A-HA to stuff the keyboards and get down to serious stuff.
I AM THE REVOLUTION (the album is available for download for about AUD $12/US$10/€7 on the Voyager website) throws the Voyager fan a curveball right on the first track, sounding like a typical Euro-power metal band on ‘Land of the Lies’, especially with hints of Rhapsody, Firewind and more than its fair share of Blind Guardian and Hansi Kursch. Thankfully, the second track takes on the typical Voyager flair, but there’s already a noticeable change in the band’s sound. It’s not just the increase in metal elements, although that’s quite a significant progression – taking on board a lot more Symphony X and other progressive power metal bands. But it’s the whimsical elements, the electronica, the keyboards and synth are a lot more pronounced as well. It’s less subtle than previous offerings, more up front, and markedly ‘darker’ as well.
Overall it is a solid album bordering on the very good. Once more, Daniel Estrin (bass, vocals) shows that he has not lost the ear for a good melody or progression, and his soulful, melancholy voice is as haunting and evocative as ever. One thing I do miss is the lack of death growls that used to pepper the previous albums quite liberally, but seem to have gone missing on this album. The rest of the band give him Daniel the unshakeable base on which he can indulge the voices in his head. Simone Dow and new guitarist Chris Hanssen leave the flashiness to other guitarists. Alex Canion’s bass can be heard through the mix, showing us some nice chops, and Mark Boeijen keeps things ticking over nicely with understated but powerful drumming.
Voyager fans will not be disappointed, this much I promise – and I do hope that the metal world starts to take notice of this unique band. Fans of Symphony X and are open-minded enough to accept Europop and synth in their music will thoroughly enjoy this album.