October 11, 2019

… ostensibly a gentle, tuneful track backed with twinkly keyboards, but try tapping your foot to it – there is an extra beat every second bar, putting the song into an overall 9/8 or some such.

Aussie prog metal outfit Voyager return with this, their 7th album, and they bring everything to the party for this one. Difficult to pigeonhole, they are prog metal at the core, but main man Danny Estrin brings a swagger of 1980s synth-pop to the table with his Human League hairdo, monochrome wardrobe choices and Simon le Bon vocal quality – like Duran Duran meets Nightwish if you will. The glam pop angle is no accident either, as Estrin wields the keyboards with some skill and deliberately chooses classic Casio and Yazoo synth tones to embellish many an intro and mid-section.

The layering on this set is carried out to perfection, with the reverb laid on thick and heavy, but without ever turning the sound to mush or obscuring the instrumentation, which is superb. A rock-hard drum and bass combo underpins the twin-guitar attack from Simone Dow and Scott Kay, and every track features a carefully-constructed, often staccato, rhythm. The melodies therefore tend not to be particularly hummable, which makes the odd catchy hook stand out even more, notably on the A-ha and Muse-influenced Brightstar and the ‘Let it go’ section towards the end of Reconnected.

Norwegian front man Einar Solberg from Voyager’s recent tour-mates Leprous performs a guest spot, sharing vocal duties with Estrin on Entropy, but the highlight of the album for me is the epic Saccharine Dream, which ranges from a sweetly clear-toned intro, through a Van Halen-constructed rock section, to another clear guitar part that rises to a surprisingly tasteful solo with some groovy bass work. Another welcome pause for breath occurs with track 7, the superbly constructed Now Or Never, which demonstrates the band’s counterpoint between pop and prog perfectly – ostensibly a gentle, tuneful track backed with twinkly keyboards, but try tapping your foot to it – there is an extra beat every second bar, putting the song into an overall 9/8 or some such.

These melodic respites are welcome, as the band throws everything at pretty much every track, making it a tiring workout – make no mistake though, every note is meticulously and impressively executed by a pin-sharp band.

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