Voices- London (Candlelight Records)

Voices takes us on a harrowing journey though London.

There are some albums out there that make the life of a reviewer living hell. Not because they are particularly bad, but because they represent something of a personal Everest for the reviewer. “How on earth am I supposed to condense that down to a few paragraphs?” Out of all the albums I’ve reviewed at my stint here at MaF, London by Voices has easily been the hardest to break down.

It is probably apt to start at the beginning, so that’s where I will. Voices is an experimental black/grind/death band that rose out of the ashes of Akercoke. London is their second album, a concept album in fact. What that concept is about though is not entirely clear. There is narration, and spoken word interludes weaved throughout the album to greater flesh out the story. But we’re never really sure if what is happening is real or all an imagining of the protagonist’s tortured mind. 

In that respect, London is an album much more about experience than it is about story. The titular city is brought to life on this album. The music is claustrophobic, disorientating and impossible to take in all at once; perfectly evoking themes of urban disenchantment and isolation. The mood travels from suicidal thoughts to sex, whereby obsession, jealousy and hatred follow. All of this is stunningly realised, the album flows perfectly, capturing the emotional arc of the story. As the narration says at one point, they are professionals. And they deliver a professional performance.

The production on this album is compressed as all hell, but that only helps to further the septic atmosphere at play here. It’s safe to say that Voices is committed to delivering the concept, even at the expense of making the music listenable at times. Sections are drawn out a little here or there, but more than that is the fact that the album seems to actively try and alienate the listener. This is definitely intentional, but it serves to limit the potential audience.

London is not an easy album to enjoy. It makes you work hard to appreciate it. But once you put in the hard yards, it makes the overall experience all the more rewarding.

London is out now.