Shane & Ryan Flynn
Rewind Review: Volumes - Via
Volumes has been quite a controversial band throughout their now almost 10 year history. From a plethora of member changes to a claim over their vocals taking money for features and not following through, to a recent and very sad death of a band member, in just a span of three career records Volumes has seen it all. But the point of this article is to go back and take a look at what is still considered their "Classic", 2011's Via. It's worth noting that even before releasing Via the band had grown a fairly substantial fanbase with much attention coming from MySpace resulting in large tours in the scene right from square one. I have to be completely honest this has never been a band I've been able to get into. The reputation and the way the group was represented was always a major turn off for me. Now however I go into this review with a more open-minded and level-headed mindset and would like to see if the hype was deserved or not.
I have to say off the bat from the first listen, to no fault of their own, I've often seen Volumes grouped with very progressive and technical bands like Tesseract and I do not find them to be in the same ballpark personally, and that's not necessarily a bad thing, it's just an observation based on how the band has been positioned by others.. While certainly Volumes do have progressive leanings, the record focuses on chugging far more than I had always been lead to believe, which I am relatively perfectly fine with as some of my favorite stuff in the scene is chug based. That's not to say there isn't some excellent more flashy and progressive parts here however, like the title track for instance. The thing that can qualify this as a technical or progressive metal album is solely the polyrhythms, which are much in the vein of Meshuggah, which at this time hadn't been done to death yet and was actually fairly new..
Via gives moments to the musicians in Volumes to showcase that they are nearly on par with some very skilled bands but it does steer more towards breakdowns and chugs at times, which when done tastefully can actually deliver better than a great technical part. Volumes has always shown the potential to truly make something spectacular and the closest they've come to that so far is certainly this effort. Reversion and Serenity are standouts if you're looking for sweet soundscapes with beautiful solo work leaning more towards the bands progressive side. Tracks like songs like Intake and Edge of the Earth are very intriguing to me, showing a sense of melody that I feel would surprise many listeners. There's some songs on here that are truly five star certified masterpieces I can't deny that. On the negative side however, several parts of certain tracks can easily be mistaken for Veil of Maya or Born of Osiris songs and I can't say I'm a huge fan of that sound even when it's performed well. The problem with djent, especially when seeing it played live, is that songs and sometimes even multiple bands can seemingly run together into one big blob of noise.
In closing, this record was very solid in my opinion. Is it a classic as I've seen some say on the internet in recent weeks? Well no not in my opinion but it is something I'd go back and re-listen to in the future without any qualms. Volumes began to establish a bit more of their own signature style here before making some questionable decisions that lead to a bit of an overall regression for the band. I do love the groups new single and my gut feeling tells me we've yet to hear the bands best material. Despite some minor complaints, I think Via was a very fun and diverse record, it gets a 3.5 out 5 from us.