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Album Reviews : Voyager – Ghost Mile

By on May 2, 2017

Perth’s Voyager were a band that very much forged their own distinctive musical path for the first decade plus of their career, and they put out marvellous, sumptuous progressive and power-tinged melodic metal. Something happened on their last record, 2014’s fantabulous V, though. It became apparent that they had actually started having a very sneaky listen to what was going on around them in the heavy music world, and then fusing that, subtly and skilfully, into their own sound. And the results were beyond spectacular. V is, in this humble writer’s opinion at least, their finest moment. And that’s saying something.

That said, they are continuing down that same path on their newie Ghost Mile, and this opus may actually be giving V a run for its money. It’s that damn good.

It must be stated that that aforementioned sumptuousness is still very much present on these two most recent releases. In fact, their sound is arguably even more opulent now. The change is in the guitar riffs and tones, the attitude and the general approach, and it has tastefully modernised their sound to its absolute benefit, whilst still sounding absolutely, 150% Voyager.

This type of stylistic shift is often hard to achieve, and other bands attempting it have come up short, but these guys (and one gal) have absolutely nailed it to the wall. And then some.

The album could not possibly have opened in a stronger fashion, with second single, the very aptly titled Ascension. It truly does reach for the very heavens, and makes it with veritable ease. Not without giving us a taste of sweet melodic atmospherics during the verse as well as arguably their first ever dredgy, grinding groove through the middle-eight section. It takes you by surprise, but you are soon headbanging furiously and thrusting your fist to the sky in aggressive exultation.

First single, the enigmatically named Misery is Only Company, is up next, and it’s just as compelling as the opener. The grooves are fat as hell and the chorus is typically soaring, and these two tunes open proceedings in splendiferous style.

From here, the album takes you on an idiosyncratic but triumphant voyage across sometimes experimental but always fascinating and ultra-catchy progressive soundscapes, with nary a weak moment to be heard anywhere over its 45 minute length, until the six and a half minute As the City Takes the Night, arrives to seal the deal. What an utterly intriguing piece of music. Even before the vocals kick in one minute and fifteen seconds into the track, we have been treated to a classy, minor-keyed and slightly melancholy piano opening, which leads into some ambient female vocals, some soaring lead guitar and then a funky slap bass and drum jam-up, before Danny Estrin’s sweet but powerful vocal lines come to the fore. Overall, this highly emotive track is like nothing they’ve ever attempted before, but it works an absolute treat, and finishes the album in exceptional style.

This is yet another candidate for album of the year, and we’re nowhere near half way through 2017. It’s a cracker of a year already and Voyager have produced a gem amongst gems.

Band: Voyager
Album: Ghost Mile
Year: 2017
Genre: Progressive rock/metal
Label: IAV Music
Origin: Australia

About

Rod Whitfield is a Melbourne-based writer and retired musician who has been writing about music since 1995. He has worked for Team Rock, Beat Magazine, themusic.com.au, Heavy Mag, Mixdown, The Metal Forge, Metal Obsession and many others. He has written and published his memoirs of his life and times in the music biz, and also writes books, screenplays, short stories, blogs and more.

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